Sunday, December 06, 2009


Eating the Universe. Food in Art

Eating the Universe. Food in Art
> November 28, 2009 - February 28, 2010
> Curated by Magdalena Holzhey in collaboration with
> Renate Buschmann.
> Kunsthalle Düsseldorf
> Grabbeplatz 4
> 40213 Düsseldorf, Germany

> Eat Art, a term invented by Daniel Spoerri for art made with and involving food, has its institutionalized origins in Düsseldorf. In 1970, Spoerri founded the Eat Art Gallery alongside the Burgplatz and inspired numerous artists to produce various editions made of edible materials and food wastes. Based on the former activities of the gallery, the exhibition in the Kunsthalle Düsseldorf takes generous stock of the phenomena from today's perspective and traces the original character of eat art from its origins until today. "Eating the Universe" is a title first created in the 1970's by Peter Kubelka, former professor for Film and Cooking at the Frankfurt Städelschule, for a TV-show on cooking as an artistic genre. It demonstrates the ongoing interest of artists even today in the subject of food as an elementary substance. As a fundamental interface of art and life, food remains a central topic, especially against the backdrop of issues such as affluence and hunger, the anti-consumerism and anti-globalization movements, modern dietetics and cooking shows, health crazes and fast food.
> The exhibition is structured into two closely related sections. A small historical part is dedicated to the origins of Eat Art, as well as a reconstruction of the Eat Art Gallery. Seminal work by Daniel Spoerri, some of the "Fallenbilder" and parts of his collection of recipe books, will be shown alongside some of the most important multiples created for the Eat Art Gallery, e.g. work by Joseph Beuys, Dieter Roth, André Thomkins, Günther Uecker, Ben Vautier, Günther Weseler and others.
> The main part of the exhibition presents a wide range of more recent work that deals with the use of edible material. Cooking and eating as social and cultural performances are the starting point forChristine Bernhard's ethnologically based research, Arpad Dobriban's annotated banquets, Rirkrit Tiravanija's culinary performances, as well as Dustin Ericksen's and Mike Roger's collection of drink containers used by artists. Sonja Alhäuser, Judith Samen and Jana Sterbak share a sculptural interest in the sensual, strongly physical and ephemeral aesthetic qualities evident in the usage of foodstuffs.
> The work of Michel Blazy, in which microorganisms or mice are constitutive elements, provokes both fascination and discomfort. Playfully surreal, cryptic or grotesque aspects of our everyday contact with food are the subject of very distinct individual approaches in the work of BBB Johannes Deimling, John Bock, Carsten Höller and Shimabuku. In experimental laboratory set-ups, Thomas Feuerstein and Philip Ross breed organisms under the conditions of industrial food production.
> The kitchen, not only as a laboratory, but also as a creative and social production site in general, is another reoccurring subject of the exhibition. Andreas Wegner reconstructs Schütte-Lihotzky's famous Frankfurt Kitchen from 1926 and reflects its social and architectural conditions. In his "Cooking Studio"Christian Jankowski offers ironic and provocative insights into the media impact and marketability of gastronomical performances, whereas Zeger Reyers has built a slowly rotating kitchen full of food, which gradually transforms itself from a fully operative everyday object into a trash container. The implicit critique of our affluent society's habits is likewise a central aspect of Thomas Rentmeister'swork, while Mika Rottenberg's video installations combine consumer worlds and pre-industrial production conditions in absurd settings.
> The relationship with our own bodies, our beauty ideals and eating disorders are further topics of the exhibit and the main focus of work by L.A. Raeven and Elke Krystufek, who, like Paul McCarthy, employ food in their taboo breaking performances.
> List of participating artists:
> Sonja Alhäuser, Arman, BBB Johannes Deimling,, Christine Bernhard, Joseph Beuys, Michel Blazy, John Bock, Paul McCarthy, César, Arpad Dobriban, Dustin Ericksen/Mike Rogers, Lili Fischer, Thomas Feuerstein, Anya Gallacio, Carsten Höller, Christian Jankowski, Bernd Jansen, Elke Krystufek, Peter Kubelka, Richard Lindner, Gordon Matta-Clark, Antoni Miralda and Dorothee Selz, Tony Morgan, L.A. Raeven, Thomas Rentmeister, Zeger Reyers, Philip Ross, Dieter Roth, Mika Rottenberg, Judith Samen, Shimabuku, Daniel Spoerri, Jana Sterbak, André Thomkins, Rikrit Tiravanija, Günther Uecker, Ben Vautier, Andreas Wegner, Günther Weseler
> Funded by the German Federal Cultural Foundation

Saturday, December 05, 2009


CFP: Food, Power & Meaning In the Middle East and the Mediterranean

Call for Papers

Food, Power & Meaning In the Middle East and the Mediterranean

International Conference
15 - 16 June 2010

Ben-Gurion University, Beer Sheva

“Thinking about food can help to reveal the rich and messy texture of our attempts at self-understanding, as well as our interesting and problematic understanding of our relationship to social others” (Uma Narayan, 1997)

Food, like the air we breathe, is essential for our survival as biological beings. Food is therefore amongst the most prominent means of power: while regulating the food intake of others or preventing them from eating altogether is the outmost form of coercion, access to, and control over large amounts of nutritious and expensive fare are manifestations of prestige, supremacy and potency.

Food, however, is not only a means of coercion but also a means of cooperation, mutual assistance and partnership. In instances where food is distributed or handed over, power is ensued through social exchange. Food sharing is therefore highly regulated across cultures and is routinely embedded in complex sets of rules and rituals.

Yet the culinary sphere is also an arena where power is negotiated and challenged, where existing power structures are undermined and where alternative arrangements are suggested and experimented with. Indeed, as a mundane, body-oriented, non-verbal praxis centered on short-lived and hardly-defined artifacts, eating is probably one of the most taken for granted social activities and the culinary sphere is therefore among the least reflexive and self-aware cultural arenas. As such, it is a privileged space for social negotiation, subversion and resistance.

The ecologically and culturally diverse area encompassing the Middle East and the Mediterranean (Northern Africa and Southern Europe) is one where modern national boundaries, many of which imposed during colonial times, systematically transgress ethnic and religious divisions and is therefore inflicted by conflicts, violence and war. This area also features some of the world's grandest cuisines, as well as many others, which are possibly less renowned but certainly no less elaborate, rich, complex and intriguing.

Economic and political debates are only part of the complex fabric into which food and power are woven in the region: changing meal structures, gendered foodways, religious culinary innovation or conspicuous consumption of food as a means of class distinction are all daily features of life in the Middle East and the Mediterranean that involve differing measures of power and meaning.

In this workshop we wish to explore the ways in which the food and foodways partake in the production, reproduction, negotiation and subversion of power and meaning in the Middle East and Mediterranean. We seek papers that approach the culinary sphere as an active arena of cultural production, that perceive of culinary artifacts as cultural icons that define different aspects of identity and that highlight power and power relations as tangible social forces.

The workshop will be held in Ben Gurion University in Beer Sheva, Israel (in the English language). The program will include ample time for discussion as well as tours to unique culinary venues in the region, where power is an important aspect of the culinary experience.

Invited keynote speakers are:

Prof. George Ritzer
Author of 'The McDonaldization of Society' and 'Globalization: A Basic Text'.

Prof. Carole Counihan
Author of 'Around the Tuscan Table' and 'The Anthropology of Food and Body'.

Submission of Paper Proposals:

Researchers (including postgraduates and early career researchers), theoreticians and scholars in the fields of anthropology, sociology, gastronomy, geography, history, cultural studies, tourism, economics and political science who deal with aspects related to food culture in the Middle East and the Mediterranean are invited to submit a paper proposal (abstract) of some 250 words to Mr. Rafi Grosglik (

Deadline for submission of all abstracts: Monday, 1 February 2010

Organizing committee: Dr. Nir Avieli, Mr. Rafi Grosglik, Prof. Yoram Meital, Prof. Uri Ram.

For more information please contact Dr. Nir Avieli (, the workshop convener.

Rafi Grosglik
PhD Student in Cultural Globalization Sociology and
Food Sociology.
Dept. of Sociology and Anthropology
Ben-Gurion University of the Negev
Beer-Sheva, ISRAEL, 84105
Phone: 972-(0)523293111 Fax: 972-(0)97658180

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