Last weekend we held a performative lecture demonstration at the Incheon Art Platform. Over approximately 45 minutes, we gave abrief overview of ourselves, layed down some groundwork on the main concepts from Deleuze & Guattari's 'A Thousand Plateaus', made sure people were paying attention with a dance summary, then went on to expound several points from our research towards a rhizomatic cuisine, ending it all with an experimental recipe sharing exercise.
There is something potentially tacky about working with food and art together. Kitch always seems to lurk under the top of the dining table, waiting to jump out in the form of a cute poodle made of broccoli, or a portrait of a giant popcorn mountain scaled by a tiny chocolate bon-bon man. Our research has yielded some examples of artists working with food in ways that try and combat this tendency.
For example - sustainability and molecular gastronmy are brought together through the work of artist Natalie Jeremijenko and molecular gastronomist Mihir Desai in their project Wilderness Adventures for the Palate (Carbon Arts, Melbourne Museum, Dec 1, 2011). This was a cocktail party in which guests were served dishes made from unusal foods that could be grown or harvested in urban environments. The dishes were assembled through an approach to cooking called Molecular Gastronomy which uses the chemical properties of ingredients to shape the construciton of a dish. For example, they concocted something called "MaMa’s milk"—described by Jeremijenko as a tribute to the DaDa movement. The key ingredients are water-buffalo milk, milk thistle extract and snail foam.
Another example of art meeting food (and trying to avoid the tacky thing) is the Glowing Sushi Cooking Show. In this case, the artists use GMO glow fish (they actually glow) and cook with them. Again, technology is used, albeit in a much different way, to get the food to be less plain and ordinary and more art-like. The Glowing Sushi team include safety warnings and research about the safety of eating the fish, which are actually a patented product called GloFish, sold by a private company.
These art and cooking experiments come at a time when food production & ethics are becoming more and more critical on social, environmental, and health levels. No wonder the discourse is turning up in the art scene, seemingly at a higher rate than in the past. A good breakdown of the current food crisis can be found in a recent article by Carolyn Steel (Odewire). Her conclusion, which basically outlines a sedentary, or family-farm based, approach to solving food supply problems is intriguing, but not really our bag of groceries (ha ha). We, of course, favour something more varied and flexible - ie: a rhizomatic approach. And while we've been intrigued by actually eating rhizomes, we also have been inspired by diverse ways that food is grown, disseminated, and finally prepared and enjoyed. So - we reference such things like wildcrafting, street-food, picnics, camp-food, soup kitchens, food-not-bombs, and basically anything else that is versatile, mobile and democractic.
Of course, since we're interested in open ways to solve problems, we don't necessarily think that the family farm would be wrong ... but it sure isn't the only way. As the perecentage of us who live in urban environments grows, we'll need solutions that include the rural fabric that essentially is part of the city, and of course we'll need to access as many possibilities for food production within cities. It's also our sense that, for various health (see Forks over Knives), ethical and environmental reasons, a plant based diet should strongly be considered.
The social side of cooking, how we come together to create the food we eat, is what really interests us, though. Next week, we're hosting a co-cooking session with Yoonseo Lee. We'll bring together a group of people to cook without a recipe - it should be a grand experiment in cooperation and ingenuity. We plan to create a social space for co-creation and discussion around collaboration, food, and eating. (For more details about the co-cooking session, email info at memelab dot ca).
PS - We're not sure if passed the tacky test - Mirae did wear a wolf t-shirt ... so maybe that's ironic enough to avoid the kitch problem?