Looking at ‘food as art’ makes us connect and think about food in a different way. At the San Jose Museum of Art, the exhibition Around the Table shows the many aspects of food in our lives today. Thirty artists present their own vision of food’s impact on our culture in the past, present and future.
The Flatbread Society makes us think about the link between humans and grain over the ages. Their Boat Oven is a large canoe with a baker’s oven, rolling-pin telescope and wellington boots poking through the floor for walking and paddling. The boat traveled through Oslo on land and water to the delight of the public. In a more somber mood, they also tell us of the botanists who died of starvation to save a seed-bank during the siege of Leningrad.
California grows more than half of the fruits, vegetables and nuts produced in the USA. Silicon Valley itself was the largest US center for fruit growing up to the 1960s. Nowadays, the tech industry has eaten up all the land and orchards. Angela Buenning Filo found a surviving orchard in San Jose and photographed every single one of the remaining trees. Fallen Fruit made fruity wall-paper that shows photos of the many women who worked in the fruit canning factories.
Food as Art: Radioactivity
The Center for Genomic Gastronomy looks at the use of radioactivity in creating mutant crops. A video installation shows workers in the 1950s exposing crops to radioactivity and discovering that crops grow faster. Mutations in the genes also gave us different and better strains of crops that are still in use today. Apparently, 90% of the peppermint oil nowadays is a genetically modified version. These first GMOs did not mix genes from different plants, so in that way they are less likely to be dangerous to health.
Emilie Clark explores how we all waste food every day. She collected her family’s wasted food over four months. She preserved it by drying and bottling to create a table display of rotten food. Emilie also painted delicate watercolors of the decaying food, creating beauty out of waste.
Matthew Moore took the discarded carrots from his farm to create a 3-D installation of misshapen vegetables. These carrots do not make it to the shops as they do not fit into the desired shape. The Culls are a funny, quirky line of white carrots that make you smile and question why they cannot be eaten.
Food as Art: Taste
War Gastronomy took a food cart out into the streets to collect stories of how food can comfort us in times of stress. The stories written on simple white plates remind us of the power of smell and taste to bring back the past. The curry wallpaper reminded me of how much I like curry!
Rosemary Williams took photos of all the shelves in a large supermarket and carefully marked the manufacturer of every product. This vast array of processed foods is made by a small group of food producers, who put profit before quality or taste. Do we really have more choice nowadays, or is it just more of the same?
Thanks to San Jose Museum of Art for a tasty, smelly, yummy exhibition!