Looking back: memorable projects incorporating food + art

In researching Food + Art as a topic for our next DELVE event next Tuesday, July 22, we're struck by what a rich role food plays throughout art history, and something that's especially fascinating for us is its use in the more performative, conceptual and relational work of the latter half of the 20th century. In the last post, we remembered the pioneering restaurant FOOD, and here are some other memorable projects that incorporated food in striking ways.

In the 1960s, food began playing a more prominent role in artists’ work, often for political reasons. Allan Kaprow, known for coining the term “happenings,” often used food; in 1970 he built a wall using bread and jelly as mortar, near the Berlin Wall, that he then knocked down.

Allan Kaprow, Sweet Wall, 1970, Activity. Photo by Dick Higgins. Courtesy of Hannah Higgins. via Xtra

Allan Kaprow, Sweet Wall, 1970, Activity. Photo by Dick Higgins. Courtesy of Hannah Higgins. via Xtra

Kaprow's wall is a comic intervention into a polarized political situation, forcing the idea of boundary into the realm of play. From Kaprow's statement about the piece:

“Sweet Wall,” looking back six years, contains ironical politics. It is a parody. It is for a small group of colleagues who can appreciate the humor and sadness of political life. It is for those who cannot rest politically indifferent, but who know that for every political solution there are at least ten new problems.
…As parody, “Sweet Wall” was about an idea of a wall. The Berlin Wall was an idea too: it summed up in one medieval image the ideological division of Europe. But it also directly affected the lives of more than three million residents, at least six governments, as well as countless non-Berliners who at one time or another would be involved in that city. (via Xtra)

Gnaw, Janine Antoni, 1992. via The Brooklyn Museum

Gnaw, Janine Antoni, 1992. via The Brooklyn Museum

The lipstick and chocolate box result of Janine Antoni's Gnaw. via Hothouse.

The lipstick and chocolate box result of Janine Antoni's Gnaw. via Hothouse.

One of Janine Antoni's most memorable artworks is Gnaw (1992), in which she uses her mouth to carve and chew two 600 pound cubes: one made of chocolate and one made of lard. She did not digest the chocolate and lard, rather she used the gnawed off bits to create chocolate boxes and tubes of lipstick, which she then displayed in a mock storefront. Of the work, Antoni says,

"When I conceived of Gnaw I actually wanted to do the most traditional thing I could do as an artist, believe it or not; I wanted to carve. I was also interested in the tradition of figurative sculpture, but rather than to describe the body, I decided to talk about the body by the residue it left on the object. And so to bring these two ideas together, and use my body as the tool. So rather than use a hammer and chisel, I would use my mouth. I was very interested in every day activities, like the activity of eating. So, I said to myself, if I'm going to carve with my mouth, what's the best material to carve with? And chocolate seemed like the obvious choice.
It seemed to embody desire for the viewer, and what happens if you succumb to that desire? You get fat. So I used fat as the material to make the second cube—the 500–pound cube of lard...
I call the piece Gnaw because I'm interested in the bite as a kind of primal urge. I love to look at a little baby when they put everything in their mouth in order to know it, and through that process, they destroy it. I was interested in the bite because it was both intimate and destructive. It summed up my relationship to art history. I feel attached to my artistic heritage and I want to destroy it. It defined me as an artist, and it excludes me as a woman, both at the same time." (via MoMA)

 

Join us on Tuesday, July 22 to explore ways artists Stefani Bardin, Emilie Baltz, Michael Cirino (a razor a shiny knife) and James Collier are adding to the discussion surrounding food and art. Get tickets here and we can't wait to see you in Dumbo, Brooklyn!

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