These two artists recently popped up in my feed reader (no pun intended), and I was struck that for each, an intent to make the art accessible to the public is built into the art. Food art nearly always challenges conceptions of “high” art; in a previous post, I considered the conundrum of Judith G. Klausner’s embroidered toast and carved Oreos under glass in a pristine gallery. But these two examples below invite a broader audience than those who might wander into a university’s art gallery.
“Images often leave you asking more questions than providing answers. When I see a photo, what I want to know is not always explained. So, I thought to myself, ‘Wouldn’t it be great if I could include an image and then include all the things that you’d want to know if you were looking at the image?'”
The results are photo collages which have been scribbled all over with labels – of people as well as objects – explanations, anecdotes, and more. Obviously, I love this: it’s textual, it’s educational, it’s art made expressly to bring the viewer in.
The Lexicon of Sustainability is accessible to the public in yet another way: pretty much anyone can apply to be a curator of a pop-up show. If I had access to an awesome space and a good DJ, I’d do it.
From The Hairpin, which posts about food art nearly as often as I do, I learned that Alison Knowles is restaging her “Make a Salad” at the Highline in NYC. The link gvies a little context, but here it is in brief: the original performance of “Make a Salad” was performed in 1962 at the Baltimore Museum of Art; as with many performances by Fluxus artists, musical score is important, and Knowles chose Mozart to accompany the eating of the salad. There are some obvious observations to make about the play between consecrated culture – the museum, the Mozart – and the activity of salad making (messy, domestic, mundane). But the awesome thing about performance art is that it can never be experienced the same way twice. Knowles has reprised “Make a Salad” more than once; you can watch the video of the 2008 Tate Modern performance, available at The Hairpin link. That performance is on a very grand scale: Knowles throws salad components from high up in the vast urban cathedral of Tate Modern, hundreds of people are watching, and in addition to the Mozart, a classy line of silver tureens awaits the product of art. I laughed out loud when Knowles began raking up lettuce – literally, with a rake! The comments of the attendees are also great: everyone’s got their tongue firmly planted in cheek, more than aware of the conventions of High Art they are tossing along with that salad.
The upcoming Earth Day performance at the Highline will differ greatly in several respects. For one, it’s outdoors, in a space that could be visited by anyone living or passing through that busy city. For another: I’m not familiar with the music of Joshua Selman, but it sounds like this will be the first time the piece is performed with music other than Mozart. Additionally, this event is politicized in the terms of eco awareness that are prevalent today: the salad ingredients are all “locally sourced,” for example.
The discourse of art has always been public, but elite; the discourse of sustainable eating is, unfortunately, also frequently limited to those with the education and resources to access it. I am fascinated by any movement to bring art and “ethicureanism” to a wider public, let alone both at the same time!