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Ru, Masha

Ru, Masha


Research Question

What is the theoretical background of the phenomenon of geophagy, the act of eating soil and soil-like substance, such as clay and chalk? Is engagement with the earth through eating an important cultural tradition that should not be forgotten? What is the definition of health and what is the basis to define something as edible?

Project Description

Geophagy is an act of eating soil and soil-like substance, such as clay and chalk. It is an ancient spiritual and healing practice, which is getting forgotten in a contemporary world. Geophagy is still a part of the culture in a number of countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America. For example, in Indonesia, Suriname, Ghana and Nigeria clay is sold as an edible product on the market. At the same time in Western world, geophagy is regarded as a psychological disorder and is included into DSM-IV. Eating soil is discouraged by food authorities in different countries, since it can damage health due to toxicity.
Geophagy is present in my artistic practice since 2011. In my performances and installations, I invite the audience to taste various types of soils and ceramics, as well as to use them as an ingredient for cooking. I used to work with chemical analysis of clays and classification of soil tastes. Within the residency programme at NIAS I would like to focus on study of the theoretical background of this phenomenon.

The part of Masha’s artistic research at NIAS is a continuation and enhancement of her project Pimba. Closing the gap, which is subsidised byAmsterdam the Fund for the Arts (AFK).

Selected Publications

  • ‘Een hapje zand eten op de campus’, Resource, by Roelof Kleis, 02-10-2017, The Netherlands (Dutch)
  • ‘Kunstenaar doet onderzoek naar eetbare klei’, DWTonline, by Audry Wajwakana, 10-09-2017, Suriname (Dutch)
  • ‘The Result Wasn’t Important. An interview with Masha Ru, by Katia Krupennikova’, within On Boycott, Censorship and Educational Practices by Renata Cervetto, p. 127-130, published by de Appel arts centre, 2015, The Netherlands (English)


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