I want to get married! Useful tips for unmarried women
I want to get married!

Useful tips for unmarried women

An art project that very precisely imitates the language use and communication system of the media (namely TV cooking shows), in order to teach girls what they should do in order to be taken to wife.

The set is the basic set of cooking shows, with one main difference. Behind the kitchen counter in the foreground, we don’t see a traditional kitchen, but instead a kind of mix between a kitchen and a room, with pictures and a mirror on the wall, and a faceless male puppet in the corner.

The host: Luca Gőbölyös

‘I want to get married’ is a show with five parts, as follows:

1. Finding true love

2. Charming and chaining the chosen man to ourselves

3. Getting married

4. Getting the man back if he leaves us

5. Getting rid of our completely spellbound partner in case we don’t need him anymore

In the show, girls and women can learn to prepare the recipes of marriage and love-related superstitions from around the world.

Beside the TV show, the project also includes pictures and professional advertisements. Like the pages of a cookbook, these photos present the bloody coffee or the hairy biscuit, along with the ingredients and the mode of preparation which constitute the recipe.

Luca Göbölyös

2009, Budapest

Let’s Stir Those Panties One More Time!
Let’s Stir Those Panties One More Time!  

Feminism, Post-feminism, Home-baked Popular Culture 

It is not the first time that Luca Gőbölyös engaged in an ethnographic research. The subject of the ethnographer’s investigation (even if she is an artist) is the other – in a cultural sense. The other here is the woman, who supposedly possesses and mediates mystical knowledge, a knowledge possessed by women and feared by men. This knowledge is said to put power in the hands of women over men.  Superstitions, the alternative knowledge related to women, can be connected to witchcraft in the battle of the sexes. Luca Gőbölyös’s subversive activity is that she considers the corruptive magical knowledge ascribed to women natural. She assures that this knowledge practiced by women remains accessible by giving updated tips and by simplifying it for our world today. At this point her work becomes amusingly light and humorous.

The body fluids used for these magical practices are repugnant and disgusting to our civilized society, and they recall the concept of the abject – but not the gloominess of the notion.  For the so called Western or European civilization bodily transformations are considered abject; repugnant and disgusting. These physical transformations are generally manifested in connection to women, to menstruation, to death or to body fluids. These things threaten us with the intercourse of the outer and the inner and they diminish the borders between the outside and the individual – or in a broader sense, they are threatening the existing social order. There are taboos connected to abject elements, which Luca Gőbölyös transgresses with ease.  By feeding a piece of the woman’s body – her nail, blood, or hair – to the man, she symbolically reverses the roles of sexes in an intercourse with the utilization of magic; the woman penetrates the body of the man. She turns the order of the world upside down within the boundaries of a cooking show. In contrast with the serious masculine sciences, in the hands of Luca Gőbölyös, the elements of the abject become the ingredients of playful and absurd female alchemy.

Luca Gőbölyös gives back the food its right of ritual, and she does this by the intimate knowledge, and rational, calculated use of the mechanisms of media. Luca Gőbölyös connects the ancient “knowledge” with current expertise, which by the way is still attributed to men.  She works with breezy self-confidence together with an expert crew. Her “cooking show” is professional. The man in the show is only present as an objectified mannequin. However, Luca Gőbölyös still acts, as if she would be completely aware that a woman is always the object of the gaze of men.

Media is a defining ground for sexual behavior, it sets the rules, and therefore cooking shows also guard over traditional gender roles.  It appears as if Luca Gőbölyös would remain in the “spot” traditionally set for women, in the kitchen.  Cooking shows don’t only guard over gender roles, but also over the values of the middle-class.

Women appearing in such shows as Ally McBeal, Sex and the City and Lipstick Jungle are young, beautiful, and successful role models. In these films feminism appears as the shadow of the past. Feminism is a Moor, and as it has done what it was supposed to, the Moor can leave now.  They live in the era of post-modernism. They never risk being ridiculed or endanger their femininity by declaring themselves feminists. However, new anxieties appear in their lives, the biological clock is running, and they want to get married.

The work of Luca Gőbölyös steps into the discourse about the social status of women twenty years after the democratic transformation.  What can a “modern” woman do in a
neo-conservative society? She uses a conservative procedure. She tries to pull the strings from the background, and she tries to maintain control over her life. Her subversive strategy is that she seemingly doesn’t want anything else but to maintain the traditions, to follow the female role model, to get married, to be beautiful.  Due to her humor and jauntiness, her radical message is digested by his audience just as easily as a hair that goes down the chosen man’s throat, or as the media sends out its messages to its target audience. Because after all, the message is about how pointless it is to sustain the rigid borders of gender roles fixed throughout decades, and what a hard task it is to break through them. Especially in a country, where feminism has not fought its battles neither in academic circles nor in the everyday world, where still too many think of it as an unnecessary import. All this meets a new neo-conservative ideal. However, the media no longer only victimizes the women who fall – either willingly or unwillingly – for these images, but these women are also the subjects of the media, and therefore they also shape and critique the media as the source of all knowledge.

Hedvig Turai

Published: in: Gőbölyös Luca: Férjhez akarok menni! – I want to get married! [katalógus] Budapest: Knoll Galéria, 2010, 4–11.

It’s Always the Girls Who Want it...
It’s Always the Girls Who Want it…

The artist herself appears on the cover of the catalogue (which can be interpreted as a quasi exhibition object), with an enchanting gaze, dressed in black, offering red apples to the observer, with different mens’ names written on them. The picture (which is a reinterpretation of the front cover of an internationally recognized gastronomic media figure’s, Nigella Lawson’s, bestseller cookbook) is reminiscent of the Biblical Eve’s gesture, visualizing a seductive, but at the same time threatening femme fatale capable of destroying men, who could be interpreted as the opposite of the culturally constructed and still existing, strongly polarized role of the “domesticated” woman.

Mimicking the mechanism of preparing and consuming food (from the selection and gathering of ingredients, through preparing and eating the food, all the way to excretion), the recipes are models of choosing a partner, marriage, and breaking up. The metaphor of eating becomes not only a metaphor of media consumption, but also of „husband consumption”.

Kata Oltai

Revised, shortened version

Published: Műértő, 2010/5.

Cited Superstitions
Cited Superstitions 

Friday is considered the most suitable day for doing love-related magic, as the word Friday comes from the German Freitag named after the Germanic goddess of love called Freia.  (Odett Eberhard, German friend)

In order to catch a husband for herself, a woman should not be too thin, because if she s not too thin it means that she is healthy, she can work and she can have children. But what should she do if she is too thin?

Take a bath in a small lake with clear water during the night, or – also during the night-  in the summer roll around naked on the ground at the property of the chosen man.  (Paula Havast, Finnish ethnographer)

Drip a bit of blood on an apple, and then feed it to the chosen one. It will turn the head of the chosen man to the extent that it will be impossible to get rid of him. (Babonák lexikona)

Take three sage leaves and write “Adam Eve” on the first one, “Jesus Maria” on the second, and your own and your chosen one’s names on the third one. The leaves should be burned, and the ashes should be mixed in with his food and he will fall in love with us! (Babonák lexikona)

The easiest way to win a man’s love is to spit in his beer!(Odett Eberhard, German friend)

Take leaves from nine different aspens, poke it with an unused needle and put it under the doorstep of the man where he passed through before.  The heart of the lad was shacking like an aspen in the wind after this procedure. (József Kiss: Szerelmi babonák)

Powdered catnip (valeriana) added to wine creates a strong sense of attraction in men. (József Kiss: Szerelmi babonák)

Hold a freshly washed apple tightly between your legs for at least a half an hour  when it is a full moon, then feed the apple to the man, but keep the seeds form the apple, and the man will admire you. (Paula Havaste, ethnographer)

Tansy is mixed with sunflower seeds, flour, honey and butter, a ring is formed with the pastry and dried on the sun – as it should not be taken inside the house. The hardened ring is used to peep through and spy upon the chosen one while we say the following:

“I won’t look at you, you will look at me, you will look into my heart, deep inside my heart, blow the top, and bite the dust, if you don’t see me, don’t come to me, the snow-white, rose-faced, tall and slender girl.”

Then the girl shall keep the ring in a cotton pouch under her armpit until the magic is not fulfilled. (Babonák lexikona)

Cook 13 dumplings with 13 man’s names on Luca’s day, eat one every day, and the last one remaining will be our husband!(my mother)

Peel an apple on New Year’s Eve such that the entire peel remains in one piece, then throw it over the left shoulder to make it tell us the first letter of our future husband’s name.(József Kiss: Szerelmi babonák)

Several apples should be put under the pillow for the night, with the names of the possible chosen ones on each of the apples. Then in the middle of the night an apple is pulled out randomly, and the name on that apple will be the name of the person’s future husband.  (József Kiss: Szerelmi babonák)

Three holes should be made on a sage leaf with an unused sewing needle, and stitched with the chosen boy’s hair. After this, the leaf should be rolled up and covered with wax, then the following should be said; “go to the house where he lives. Get under the door-step where he goes in and out.”  After this, the boy will fall in love with the person. (Babonák lexikona)

A drop of menstruation blood should be dripped on a cube sugar, and then fed to the chosen man, and he will be intoxicated with love.  (Ellen Seropian, Armenian friend)

On midsummer night, one should look back through a borrowed wedding ring over her left shoulder into a mirror, and she will see her future husband.  (Paula Havaste, ethnographer)

On midsummer night, sever different flowers should be picked in solitude while not speaking to anyone. Then the flowers should be placed under a pillow and one will see the real One in her dream.  (Paula Havaste, ethnographer)

On. St. Catherine’s Day (25 November) a pair of pants should be hidden under the pillow, and one will see who her future One is in her dream. (internet)

Menstruation blood should be mixed with the ashes of burnt apple seeds, then hidden in the chosen man’s food, and fed to him. It will surely make him fall in love. (Babonák lexikona)

The name of the man should be written on some wrapping paper, then put in the deep freezer. It will conserve his faithfulness forever.  (Maria Castilla, Cuban friend)

Blood or some hair should be put in some wine or pálinka (a strong spirit). After the man drinks it he will fall in love forever.  (József Kiss: Szerelmi babonák)

In order to get rid of the unwanted lover, a dress should be worn completely inside out. The front should be in the back and the inside on the outside.  (Paula Havaste, ethnographer)

Feed the chosen man biscuits cooked with our cut fingernails, and he will stay ours forever! (my mother)

A piece of string from a man’s pants should be placed under the doorstep to keep him faithful. (Ágnes Folly friend)

Have the man drink coffee containing our pubic hair, and we’ll never get rid of him!(Suzanne Nagy Parisian friend)

Our own hair should be twisted around the man’s shirt’s button, and he will remain faithful forever. (József Kiss: Szerelmi babonák)

Write your own name and your loved one’s on a piece of paper, hide it under the boy’s pillow, and he will be deeply in love with you. (Babonák lexikona)

Step over a man three times when he is asleep, and he will fall in love with you forever. (Paula Havaste, ethnographer)

Bake a small, round bread and keep it tucked under our armpit or in between our legs for a night, then feed it to the chosen man to make him fall madly in love with us! (Paula Havaste, ethnographer)

In a wedding, a pretty curly-haired child should be thrown on the wedding bed, so that the couple will have a child within a year. (internet)

Take a rosemary branch and put it in the boy’s shoes, or sew it into his tie or the inside of his hat to make him stay loyal forever.(József Kiss: Szerelmi babonák)

A lucky shamrock should be stitched into his underwear, and he will remain faithful forever. (József Kiss: Szerelmi babonák)

When a woman gets her wedding ring, she should never take it off after that, unless she is cheating on her husband.  (my mother)

The footprint of the man who has left us should be picked up and turned around as if he was coming home, and then he will return to us.  (Paula Havaste, ethnographer)

The man’s hair should be placed under the doorstep, and then he will come back if he left us. (my mother)

Pee through the left sleeve of your unwanted lovers’ shirt in order to get rid of him. (Paula Havaste, ethnographer)

One should pay attention at the wedding, because the first one to step on the carpet in the church will be the one who wears the breeches/pants. (József Kiss: Szerelmi babonák)

Some honey should be tasted at the wedding so that the couple’s life will be sweet. (József Kiss: Szerelmi babonák)

One should not get, grow or pick myrtle, because: “Plant some myrtle, plan no wedding.” (József Kiss: Szerelmi babonák)

The best day of the week for a wedding is Tuesday, because; “I will marry you now outright, then I will dance on my wedding Tuesday night.” (internet)

In hope of a happy marriage, some money should be placed in the woman’s shoe.  (internet)

One should cover her body with honey then roll around in the grain of wheat.  Some pastry or a doughnut should be baked from the wheat, then it should be fed to the man, and he will fall out of love. (Paula Havaste, ethnographer)

Cook one of our used panties in boiling water and have the chosen man drink the juice to make him fall for us instantly!  (Aida Deel Solar peruvian friend)

The hair of the unwanted lover should be dug at a crossroad, and he will surely stop visiting… (Ágnes Folly friend)