The Signification of Ketchup in David Stafford’s “Six Fries with Ketchup”

David - fries - 1

“Six Fries with Ketchup” by David Stafford (Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA)

We are deeply moved to have received the original “Six Fries with Ketchup” from David Stafford; it is a work that is very special to us. Knowing this, David included a handsome commemorative statement on the reverse side of the work recognizing the correspondence piece by DVS that has become more widely known as “The Signification of Ketchup in David Stafford’s ‘Six Fries with Ketchup.”

David - fries - 2

DVS simply could not have written the piece without David’s willingness to share his insights about this work from his somewhat confused post-realist stage.  In the end, we believe DVS has made a substantial contribution to Staffordshire studies and include the ArtForum version for you here:

The Signification of Ketchup

According to Lacan, when the woman in David Stafford’s ‘Six Fries with Ketchup’ stumbles upon French fries (see Mirror), she is suddenly bombarded with an image of herself as fast food – whereas she previously experienced existence as a fragmented entity with libidinal needs. ‘Six Fries with Ketchup’ itself in the mirror is described by Lacan as the ‘Ideal-Lunch. (Lacan, Mirror, 2). This ego ideal presented by David Stafford, for Lacan, provides an image of lunch which constitutes the absent burger and shake. The flavour of the shake is indeterminate. As in Freud, this is formed through an external force; in this case, the sudden eruption of the ketchup that counteracts the woman’s primordial sense of her fragmented body.

This jubilant assumption of his specular image by the woman at the infans stage, still sunk in his motor incapacity and nursling dependent, would seem to exhibit in an exemplary situation the symbolic matrix in which the lunch is precipitated in a primordial form (ketchup), before it is objectified in the dialectic of identification with the other, and before David Stafford restores to it, in the universal its function as lunch and concern with weight loss that might compel the woman to ask: ‘How do I look in these socks?” The play on ‘ketchup’ and ‘catch up’ is a floating signifier (Lacan, Mirror, 2).

This image in “Six Fries with Ketchup” is the image of coherence – of what makes the world and our place as complete subjects in it make sense. It becomes a process of identification of internal self with that external image. The mirror stage thus represents the woman’s first encounter with ketchup, with semolina, with an external sense of coherence, and with a sense of “I” and “You.” It also plays a key function in the interpellation of subjectivity within theories of Althusserian ideology – through the various Ideological State Apparatuses (ISA’s) which provide culturally specific images of coherence.

“Six Fries with Ketchup” came in a spectacular envelope:


And the reverse side:


Deepest thanks to David Stafford for the FAB mail-art!


4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. suffolkrebecca
    Jun 05, 2013 @ 19:55:49

    Wow that was a lot to take in. I can’t help wondering if you are checking to see if we are actually reading the blog?


  2. suffolkrebecca
    Jun 05, 2013 @ 19:58:05

    And I meant to say, great piece! I think I just about got the bit about …are my feet too big, or how do I look in those socks?… I am laughing.


  3. minkrancher
    Jun 05, 2013 @ 22:29:50

    Are you checking in to see if I am checking in to see? I am.

    For the moment, M-L is a bit of a parking garage for things that are being posted elsewhere, but M-L continues!


  4. Ludlow Bushmadam
    Dec 30, 2013 @ 02:57:10

    Reminds one of the great Ludlow Bushmadam evoking his “3 legged dog descending a staircase” and “Kats strictly forbidden from varing hakra in the garden”


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