Art Eat Art is a dynamic online exhibition of contemporary art that seeks to provide accessible, and delectable, encounters with works that explore edible mediums of artistic expression. Modeled after the recipe blog, Art Eat Art is designed not only as an exhibition, but also as an interactive platform for the exploration of how art is shared and consumed.
Roland Barthes once wrote, “For what is food? It is … a system of communication, a body of images, a protocol of usages, situations and behavior.” It seems the very same definition might be applied to art. Art Eat Art explores artworks that blur the boundaries between food and art, asks contemporary art lovers and contemporary cooks alike to examine how cooking and eating might serve to complement the experience of these works.
Inspiration for Art Eat Art struck me, an amateur cook and curator, when I recognized that my most vivid memories contemporary art museums centered around eating in their cafes and restaurants: a glass of pinot noir and a arugula salad with prosciutto at the Tate Modern after seeing the Futurism exhibition, beef carpaccio at the Saatchi in London after looking at Martin Kippenberger’s work, a latte and chocolates at the MFA after gazing at the dozens of dollhouses of Rachel Whiteread… Even my memories of contemporary galleries were usually accompanied by a recollection of a meal afterwards.
My recollections are indicative of a trend towards intersections of gastronomy and contemporary art institutions: museums are becoming sites of fine dining as well as fine art, and gallery districts are overflowing with chic cafes and restaurants. Why? Perhaps it is because these dining experiences are conducive to reverie and reflection, either solitary or shared, upon the art that has just been consumed. A meal after art allows for time and space to savor and digest complex works, ultimately enriching the art experience through contemplation, conversation, and hopefully complementary flavors of delicious food. The food also leaves sensory impressions that make the art experiences more memorable, as smell and taste are most closely linked to those parts of our brain that make and store memories. How might food, then, intentionally be paired with art to create rich and memorable encounters?
This is the primary question that the curatorial endeavor of Art Eat Art strives to examine. As the curator, have carefully paired contemporary works of art with recipe not to equate cooking with art making, or to suggest that a well-cooked dish is an artwork. The recipe is intended to offer a suggestion for a cooking and eating process meant to make the work accessible through synesthetic experience and to catalyze deeper consideration of the artwork.
I have chosen to incorporate only works which use edible elements. That the work be contemporary and have edible food elements are the only parameters of my selection. “Contemporary” is loosely defined here as most museums of contemporary art define their collections—work created after 1945. The second stipulation—that the work involve food—affords a breadth of expressive mediums ranging from visual to performative. Drawing on artist Daniel Spoerri’s term “Eat Art” which he used to describe his panoply of artistic activities involving food, Art Eat Art contains films, photography, sculpture, as well as documentation of installations and performative interventions.
The choice to include only “Eat Art” was made so that the recipe and the art are closely linked, a link made more explicit by using the edible elements of the artwork as ingredients in the recipe. This correspondence offers the cook and/or eater a point of access, contemplation, and hopefully conversation about the connected artwork. The recipes are meant to be cooked and shared, just as the art on the blog is meant to be disseminated and consumed. Like any other recipe blog, suggestions of substitutions and additions, as well as reviews of artwork and recipe are encouraged, and even solicited. I have posted links to my recipes to popular recipe blogs to encourage the beginning of such dialogue. Also, like recipe blogs, Art Eat Art is intended to be a growing venture—new artworks will accrete, and photos of the dish preparation will soon accrete. Ultimately, it is intended not only to serve as an exhibition– a site for experiencing art–but like the recipe blog, as a resource and inspiration.
Despite its formal parallelism with the recipe blog, Art Eat Art seeks to foreground contemporary art, not recipes. In a sense, the recipes are an interpretive curatorial act. Like writing wall text, the recipe for a complementary food experience serves to synesthetically (rather than verbally) explicate the artwork. Though the dishes I (re)present through recipe are not meant to be the main focus of “Eat Art,” the juxtaposition certainly does bring up certain analogies between art and food: both are consumed, both decay, both are preserved, both have much to do with taste. These themes are ones explored by the artworks I have chosen to present. And, I anticipate them being central to the reflection and conversation that will result from the creation of these recipes.
Perhaps Art Eat Art is truly as much an exploratory curatorial project as it is an exhibition. It is an interrogation of the form of exhibition and of recipe blogging. It is an investigation of consumption. It is an experiment in what and how it means to eat art.