Eat the problem

Featured in

  • Published 20130305
  • ISBN: 9781922079961
  • Extent: 264 pp
  • Paperback (234 x 153mm), eBook

THIS YEAR AT MONA (Museum of Old and New Art Market) we are solving all problems by eating them. We have decided that, being human, and therefore the biggest problem, we should make up for our evil existence by out-parasiting the parasites. We won’t eat tapeworms, but we’ll feast on a plethora of ecological disasters, each a delicacy.
We are also eliminating the problem of boring, MILF-y markets. We’re introducing a little Cambodia to the community market instead. MILF-y markets smell like French cheese and French perfume. Ours smells like seaweed, dried sea urchins, freeze-dried starfish, French cheese and French Perfume. Our MILFs are interesting.

The market revolves around a central art installation, a collaborative, boundary-blurring work whose ethos extends into every stall.


Rabbit Killers
Brigita Ozolins
Maria Fernanda Cardoso
Sea Urchin Man Dave Allen
Kirsha Kaechele
Peter Felicetti
The Pyramid Gang

Rohan Anderson
Natalie Holtsbaum
Daphane Park
Bec Fitzgibbon + Ella Knight
Star Fish Man Steve Devereaux
Zsolt Faludi + Nanna Bayer
Kris Schaffer
Paulette Whitney
Cloud on Bull Kelp
Samara McIlroy on Goat Cheese
Emma Bug
Jelly Fish Guys
Sonia Heap
Black Haired Milking Maiden, Margie Prieve
Stu Addison + Rose Flynn on Rooster Sign + Rooster cooking
Chloe Proud
Laura McClusker on Vinegar + Steelwool



Anonymous Lady Friend: Years ago, I volunteered at TMAG (Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery) because I wanted to get into the costume thing. And I ended up weighing the gonads of starfish. And I don’t mind because if that was useful, that’s good.

KK: Oh you are so Victorian.

ALF: I didn’t mind. But they are basically just gonads. Their arms are full of eggs. And they are foul.

KK: See, I like eggs.

ALF: When I was cutting these things open I was like, we have no chance. We have no chance at all. These things are just reproduction machines. There were these people who were real nutters. They wanted to start an industry around starfish…

KK: Then I’m a real nutter! Imagine them on a stick. Deep fried, like the Chinese eat them?

ALF: Having had intimate relations with these things it makes me feel sick.

KK: No, the whole market project is great. It will involve rabbits, sea urchins…

ALF: And cats?

KK: Oooooo. That would really challenge David.

ALF: You know you can skin them.

KK: I would love to freak David out. Cats. That’s brilliant. And they are an invasive species. And they…

ALF: They go feral. Don’t you think you’re a bit utopian?

KK: Absolutely. I’m very utopian.

Later: Conversation on cats with David, in which he was not shocked.



Our market teepees began with American prisoner popsicle-stick art. Well, they found their form that way. They probably were born because I am from California and nostalgic, and my mother lived in one. In a certain decade, everyone and their mother lived in one. It was retardedly cliché. I also love ’60s Californian architecture – John Lautner and the many nameless wooden tree house builders. It’s a spirit in architecture that speaks to me. I love Big Sur and Topanga and the California coast; all its houses of wood and stained glass.

Image: Michelle Crawford

Our teepees are a processing unit – a primitive factory for processing invasive species. It’s called Eat the Problem. I’m not sure but I may have stolen that line from my artist friend Peter Nadin, who will have no choice but to fully approve. I invited him to New Orleans to use Nutria as art. Nutria are swamp rats with giant, orange teeth and a population that expanded from eight lonely specimens to twenty million in a heartbeat. As a big lover of turning shit into gold, I really liked the idea of turning Nutria into food, art and fur. As a big lover of fur, I really liked the idea of guilt-free, PETA-proof fur, fur that solves an ecological problem while providing all the glamour and avoiding the red paint. My agent in New York liked the idea as well. I asked her to pitch it to Fendi, but it came to nothing. Then one night she turned up to one of my feasts in New York wearing a beautiful fur vest. It looked like Nutria. ‘That’s amazing! Who made it?’ I exclaimed. ‘Fendi!’ she replied brightly. Her face fell. So did mine.

It’s good she ripped me off because I definitely ripped Peter off. In fact, in writing this I’ve just come to the realisation that the project Peter did in New Orleans was an inverted teepee. I know because I hosted it in my art space ( I may have stolen his idea but, reflecting on it, his execution was more sophisticated.

His was a subtle teepee, a suggestion of something not quite present (that is, assuming poking holes in the roof of a two-hundred-year-old historic structure with giant sticks is subtle). I think my boyfriend would like my teepees better if they were more suggestion and less present, but we will get to that later. That, and our terrible triangle.

Also, it is fine that I copied Peter’s teepee because my teepees are not actually teepees – as the builders and every passing observer like to point out. They are pyramids that look like beehives – and they are very occult. They are not about the native reclamation of western space like Peter’s teepee; they are ominous, Californian witches hats.


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There were to be five of them. That would have been very cool but, true to form, I chose more expensive materials and construction methods, leaving me with just three, and still over budget.

They are made from Cupressus macrocarpa, a designated weed in Tasmania. As you can imagine I was delighted to realise that it is also the signature tree of Big Sur and the California coast, where it is protected and extraordinarily beautiful. Henry Miller composed beneath their boughs. It stains grey over time or, as in our case, immediately, when sprayed with vinegar and iron filings.

They have stained glass tops of cobalt blue and amber. The smokehouse has a ceramic top, golden from layers of bronze glaze – a piece by Zsolt Faludi and Nanna Bayer.

They are constructed according to the well-established methods of popsicle-stick art, perfected by prisoners whom, as you will learn later, will solve the 10thpolyhedron.



Brigita Ozolins is transforming the hexagonal pyramid into a chapel for native species. I have intentionally learned little about her plan as I am a fan of her work and prefer saving it as a surprise. I know she’s creating a moss-covered altar with native plants and portraits of creatures based on historic Tasmanian nature illustrations. There is the soundtrack of Tasmania itself – not Hobart, but the pristine natural areas, crickets in the whispering eucalypts, wombats and quolls of the bush.
You can get married in the chapel or choose from a menu of healing rituals performed by Kris Shaffer. She and Paulette Whitney are our native plant experts and are lending flora and botanical meaning to the installation. Their plant/art associations are very deep, a conceptual goldmine of the bizarre and wild. But you need to talk to Paulette or Kris to land on them.



The seven-sided pyramid is a sign of joy and happiness, and can be used to alleviate depression. [It] acts as a ‘telephone’ to send messages to, and to receive messages from another Earth being.


 After many years of research and field trials the 7-sided pyramid will neutralize negative energies from Geopathic Stress and Electromagnetic Stress and will draw in negative energies produced by GPS and EMS and radiate out pure healthy life energy or Orgone.


 Sadly, the Heptagon met the axe in the budget cuts. I am kind of glad, because the teepees get uglier in equal proportion to their number of sides. I also do not like the name HEPTAGON. It is too reminiscent of the liver, which disturbs me. I will get the results of my Hepatitis C test the week of the opening of the market.



The pentagonal pyramid is our smokehouse and, unlike the others, will stay on the lawn permanently. Being American, I can’t help having a thing for the pentagon – which is why I chose it for the permanent structure. Being kind of a hippie, and therefore innately anti-patriotic, I like the fact that it will always appear to be on fire. According to, there are secret codes embedded into the Pentagonal Pyramid on Mars, a pyramid known as D&M:

The D&M pyramid has the 19.5 number encoded in [its] geometry. Remember that 19.5 is the latitude where Pathfinder, the speculated occult NASA message, landed on Mars. Many crop circles have the resonating 19.5 number embedded in their make-up. Again we ask ourselves, is it intentional human-type agencies [acting] through conspiracy or are we seeing the notes that make up the universe’s beautiful symphony?

I was very disturbed to learn this. We failed to encode the appropriate 19.5 number (and therefore the universe’s beautiful symphony) into our pentagon and instead chose the very un-meaningful 18.7 as our layering setback – a completely arbitrary decision and sad missed opportunity. Such a difference would have meant nothing to our finished pentagon and everything to the Universe. We’ve built a discordant smokehouse.

As Goro Adachi says, the partially collapsed ‘D&M Pyramid’ echoes eerily the collapse on 9/11 of one of the sides of the Pentagon (Blazing Star) during the ritual. Could this sync be an intentional message sent by our secret society networks to our alien forefathers?




OK, the triangle has been a big problem. I basically hate my boyfriend over it. It took us to the brink of divorce. I actually love him but I hate him when it comes to the triangle.

Our triangle is actually an elongated tetrahedron and a Johnson Solid. I know that thanks to Wikipedia. Popsicle Sticks are the classic American craft and simply present themselves. They require not research, but instinct. They are human and they are an artist’s introduction to complex mathematics; where real people and geometry meet.

The implication here is that artists are real people and mathematicians are not. Suffice to say my boyfriend was yelling at me about my triangle and he is a mathematician. He was very angry that I had not figured it out before beginning to build it. I’m not a complete retard so I hadn’t realised I hadn’t figured it out, but he called my triangle dumb. What happened to process-based art being more interesting? And is it my fault that you have no Mexicans here, thereby forcing me to pay labourers forty-five dollars an hour to experiment when it should be eight? He stated that the way to build the triangle was completely obvious (obvious to an Asperger socially retarded mathematician). Obviously it should spiral (something I had played with using my Popsicle sticks and abandoned as impossible).

The next day, to my delight, after a midnight of crying over my failed triangle, he texted me: ‘My design won’t work. You should build it the other way.’ The relief was so sweet. I really do care what he thinks. It wasn’t innate stupidity after all that kept me from the perfect triangle – it was mathematical complexity. And a pretentious political system.

A couple of days later, Peter Felicetti, lead teepee collaborator and MONA engineer, solved the spiral triangle problem in his garage. Still, my triangle is a simple structure, solid on one side with alternating boards on the other. It is elegant and it makes sense. The two permeable sides are laced with bull kelp, giant ribbons layered upon one another, curling as they dry into beautiful black lace. David hates it and I hate him back.
The prisoners made complex, spiralling structures of endless geometries. When it comes to pyramids they are a league above the rest. They are the real designers. Artists and mathematicians: hopeless.



We will organise a prize for prisoners to solve the 10thpolyhedron, a mathematical mystery that beguiles mathematicians worldwide. The ancient Greeks solved a few, Lord Kelvin solved one or two, Buckminster Fuller another, and the last, a weird old sculptor in rural Louisiana.

David: As an act of attrition for my triangle faux pas (or, perhaps, to revive my flagging reputation as a nerd) I point out here that Kirsha must mean regular polyhedra, and there can’t be ten. That there can only be five (tetrahedron, cube, octahedron, dodecahedron, icosahedron) has been known for thousands of years, but is, possibly, irrelevant here, because it can’t be what she is referring to.



There is no square, which seems appropriate. It got voted out in the budget cuts. It got voted out (surprise!) because it was too boring. It actually is when you compare it to a triangle (that alluring unsolvable disaster), or the pentagon (just cool), or the hexagon (sexy, naughty name). So that’s it, no square.

My boyfriend, who I am starting to like again, asked for a T-shirt that says SQUARE. All the pyramid-builders look like cult members, with T-shirts brandishing a symbol and a single word: TRIANGLE, PENTAGON or HEXAGON. I convinced them to wear the uniforms by telling them they’d look like evil cult leader yoga teachers. But I think David’s SQUARE is cute so I’m making him one today.



We talked about sea urchin and starfish but I didn’t mention that Maria Fernanda Cardoso is turning them into a giant tapestry, or that we are making Christmas ornaments out of the freeze-dried specimens that Steve, MONA’s big boss of everything built, is diving for. They will hang from MONA’s radiata pine Christmas tree – an (yes, you guessed it) invasive weed. Steve went to a remote diving site on Bruny Island and found not a single starfish. The supposedly infinite invaders had devastated the sea floor and disappeared. Back at the town jetty he had a thought, jumped in and found five-hundred in five minutes. They are probably full of mercury, which I guess is solving an ecological problem*.

In any event I would like to mention the roosters that the Mercury – the official paper of Hobart, and my all-time favourite publication – exposed as a dire social problem. The article was written by Hannah Martin, my all-time favourite writer (see Apparently everyone dumps their roosters on the side of the road near Glen Huon. Especially disturbing was the Mercury‘s revelation that the more responsible backyard chicken-raisers take their roosters to the vet to be put down. I think it is wonderfully pathetic. It makes me feel very righteous. But it is perfectly misaligned with our theme, so I thought we should eat them.

Michelle Crawford taught me the term ‘tree changer’: people who move to the country with romantic notions but can’t eat their roosters. They buy chicken at Coles while their roosters wait by the highway to die of thirst. This vigilant tone does not suit my glamorous and free approach to life and sustainability, so I will finish here:

A sign created by Rose, MONA’s cocktail artist, creator of the upcoming Christmas eggnog on ice, and font artist extraordinaire:




Rooster drop off: 10am every Saturday, 15 December – 30 March, MoNA Market
655 Main Rd, Berriedale.

* Dispose of all Christmas ornaments responsibly.

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About the author

Kirsha Kaechele

Kirsha Kaechele was born in California and grew up in Guam and Japan. She lives in Tasmania, with her boyfriend in his museum, MONA....

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