On a video screen installed on a series of iron bars strewn with yellow sheets, a strange narrative begins to emerge involving sea creatures, animated figures, disco music, and, above all else, oysters. This is Puck Verkade’s BAIT (2018), which she made specifically for the fair; the work had a line of VIPs clamoring to put on the headphones and dive in. Again and again, large fleshy oysters are pried opened and shucked, and sometimes sprout mouths, as the classic Donna Summer/Barbra Streisand duet “No More Tears (Enough is Enough)” fades in and out.
The fantastical vision is actually a obscure comment on the #MeToo movement. Verkade excitedly explained to me that the work touches upon the topic in a serious way, without taking itself too seriously. “The oyster has many connotations, from art history to sexuality to gender,” she said. And so she decided to give the oysters mouths. “The oyster is the perfect representative of something or someone being oppressed,” Verkade explained—but her shellfish are able to “speak up about harassment.” You have to see this to believe it.