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Norway artist cooked and ate own hip on 'a whim'

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Alexander Selvik Wengshoels. Photo: Lasse Jangås
14:29 CEST+02:00
A Norwegian conceptual artist boiled his own hip bone on "a whim" and then ate the flesh with some potato gratin and a glass of wine. According to the artist, the meat tasted like "wild sheep".
Alexander Selvik Wengshoel, 25,  made his startling claim to Nordlys newspaper at the opening of his graduation show from the Tromsø Academy of Contemporary Art.
 
The hip bone was displayed as part of the exhibition, as was a film of the operation to remove it. 
 
Wengshoel told The Local that he spent a year convincing his doctors to let him film his hip replacement operation and then keep the bone. At the time he was a 21-year-old art student doing a foundation course in Oslo. 
 
"I just wanted to use it in my art. I didn't know at that time that I would boil it and eat it," he said.  "But it just came really naturally." 
 
"I had to boil off the meat to get to the bone, and when I started scraping off the meat, I took off a little piece and I thought, 'why not do it. It's not every day I will have a piece of human flesh which is mine and which it is possible to eat', so I had a little taste, and then I thought, 'that's really nice'."
 
He said that although the decision to eat the meat had at first come as a "whim", once he had decided to do it,  he wanted to make an occasion out of it. 
 
"I made myself dinner while my girlfriend was at work, and I just resolved to have this really nice moment, with me and my hipbone," he explained. 
 
Wengshoel was born with a deformed hip and endured years in a wheelchair or on crutches. He went through a series of failed operations until he was finally given his metal hip replacement when he was 21.
 
"When, from the age of three months, you experience them cutting into you and stretching your foot, and then end up stuck in a hospital bed where you are forced to endure pain and medication, then it does something to you in the long term," he explained to Nordlys. 
 
After all this pain, eating the hip brought a kind of catharsis. 
 
"The hipbone had been such a problem for me for over 20 years, and it was just a way of making it better again," he explained. "It had been so hard to have it in my body, and when I took it out, it turned into something else, something romantic. It was a natural process I felt I had to do to move on." 
 
He conceded that there hadn't been enough meat left on the bone after the operation to constitute an actual meal. 
 
"A handful, it wasn't that much, it was not enough to get full, it was just an appetiser," he said.  "It had this flavour of wild sheep, if you take a sheep that goes in the mountains and eats mushrooms. It was goaty."
 
He admitted that his art project had elicited "different reactions" at his college. 
 
"Some like it, some understand, some hate it, some get really pissed off and start yelling at me ' this is not art'. It's the whole spectrum of feelings and reactions," he said. "It's nice to get people thinking about their own bodies, and their own view on their bodies, and what it's possible to do with the body. i just work with my own body. That is my canvas." 
 
Since enrolling at Tromsø, Wengshoel has devoted himself to developing the possibilities of his own body. 
 
"Previously I wasn't given any choice by the doctors. I could neither say 'yes' or 'no'," he told Nordlys. "Now I can take control myself and decide what I want to do with it." 
 

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When The Local asked whether the whole story was a hoax, he answered "It's true," but refused to  justify himself any more forcefully than that. 
 
"You can either believe it or not, that's purely up to you," he said. "I am not here to convince anyone and say 'yes, yes, I really did this'. The story is the story. Either you believe it and we can start a discussion and talk about it, or you do not believe. It's not up to me to make people believe it. I'm just saying it." 
 
Wengshoel is one of six undergraduate students showing off their work at the graduation exhibition in Tromsø titled 'No Guts, No Galaxy'. 
 
In the picture below,  Wengshoel poses in front of the hip bone from which he claims to have removed the meat: 
 
 

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