Sometimes art triggers our questions, exposes the contradictions of our world, and connects the dots we wouldn’t see otherwise. And occasionally, an artist arrives and breaks the borders of visibility, becoming slowly viral in social networks. It’s happening in 2023 to Anna Uddenberg, a Swedish sculptor and visual artist who has been active for years. The exhibition she presented at the Meredith Rosen Gallery in New York is called “Continental Breakfast” and exposes a chair with a peculiar meaning. After the show took off on TikTok and other social networks, people have wondered what the point of her concept is: let’s have it explained in this article.
You can find the official presentation of Anna Uddenberg’s Continental Breakfast on Meredith Rosen Gallery’s official website.
Anna Uddenberg’s Continental Breakfast chair: the meaning explained
Continental Breakfast is the exhibition presented in 2023 at the Meredith Rosen Gallery in New York. It premiered with a live performance on March 18 and remained on view until April 29, 2023.
In the exhibition, people have the chance to watch two examples of this futuristic-looking chair: its design is inspired by plane seats and hospital accessories, and the idea is that the chair represents a modern object conceived as the perfect seat for a controversial human meal. The shocking meaning behind Continental Breakfast is that the meal is a sexual act, and the “food” is the woman, suddenly transformed into an object.
Anna Uddenberg is not new to this kind of controversial message: her sculptures and installations frequently explore themes of gender and sexuality, power dynamics, and the body. Anna interprets modernity from a pessimistic perspective, bringing the objectification of humanity to its extremes. The chair she designed for Continental Breakfast is the way she explained to us the meaning of our contemporary life: as humans, we are ready to submit ourselves to the logic of need that the market imposes. And those needs are often not strictly related to human needs: they belong more to lust, and they often assume the form of control over others.
The Continental Breakfast chair stages an act of submission, where the woman becomes the symbol of passive submission, and the eater is the individual in charge, using all tools he can buy/obtain to satisfy their needs.
The title of the exhibition reveals a specific meaning to us: it’s a breakfast, a meal humans have to answer the primary need of hunger, which allows us to survive. But the act implied in this specific form of breakfast has nothing to do with primary needs, as it’s a form of sexual interaction oriented to give pleasure to one side only. From this point of view, the “continental” definition here changes the perspective, turning it into a form of breakfast for the capitalistic market.
You can find additional meaning while developing your personal interpretation of the Continental Breakfast chair designed by Anna Uddenberg, and you can develop more insights by watching the way this video has explained it. Anna didn’t release interviews about this work, but the contents behind her ideas are precise and relate to objectification, power, luxury, authority, control, greed, respect, and domination.