From F. T. Marinetti’s Manifesto of Futurist Cookery to Gordon Matta-Clark’s conceptual restaurant to Michael Rakowitz’s Enemy Kitchen, artists have long employed food within their creative process and practice. In recent years, a host of cultural practitioners has been interrogating relationships between food and environmental, economic and social concerns, as well as notions of cooking and eating as performative acts and of dishes, recipes, and cookbooks as oft-contested markers of cultural memory.
Hospitality and conviviality are at the heart of Delfina Foundation. Founded in 1988 as the Delfina Studio Trust, which later became Delfina Foundation in 2007, the organisation has a long history in providing a “home” for artists to explore ideas, to engage in cross-cultural dialogue and to explore opportunities for artistic experimentation. Through our residency and public programme, Delfina Foundation brings together artists, curators and critics from around the world to explore how artistic strategies have and can be used to address wide-ranging issues, in this case relating to food, agriculture, and the environment.
This programme will unfold over the course of four years at Delfina Foundation with one season each year devoted to The Politics of Food. In January 2014 the first iteration of this programme curated in collboration with Michael Vazquez brought together 41 artists, activists, anthropologists, agronomists, chefs, curators, scientists and writers from 15 countries to investigate the global politics and ethics of food production, distribution and consumption.
Season 2 - Spring 2015: Sex, Diet, Disaster
curated in collaboration with Nat Muller
Delfina Foundation will launch our next season focusing on the connections between sex, diet, disasters and food in both historical and contemporary contexts.
Under the heading Sex we wish examine topics ranging from gender and power to the erotics of display and the pleasures of eating. Within the framework of Diet we will explore ideas of ritual and control with particular reference to identity, political policies, religion, fashion and marketing. When considering Disaster we are interested in investigating the impact of international policies, climate change, war, economic crises and natural disasters on food in historical, current or imagined scenarios.
To view the event programme for Politics of Food: Sex Diet and Disaster please click here
Participants will include:
Taus Makhacheva (Russia/Dagestan) has a performance-based practice that questions traditional forms of history making as well as cultural and gender norms. Motivated by her Daghestani-Russian identity, her works seeks to reconcile the nostalgic with the contemporary and the local with the global. In particular, she is interested in looking at the structure of Caucasian society and the relationship between its history, the politics of collective memory and contemporary life. Her recent work has used food as a metaphor to articulate complex geopolitical histories, for instance some doctored archive film footage of Hitler slicing a cake in the shape of the Caspian Sea became the basis for a performance in which the cake was remade and offered to the audience. During her time at Delfina, Makhacheva hopes to produce a book depicting the current Daghestani fashion for cakes depicting luxury items, alongside further research into the history of edible representations of countries in relationship to conquest.
The practice of Matheus Rocha Pitta (Brazil) critically explores the exchange mechanisms that rule ordinary life. Central to his work is an acute interest in the formation of value, but instead of the abstract form of money, his attention is drawn to the concrete and quotidian form of the meal. Furthermore, his work develops from research into historical approaches to food in folktales, etymology and Christian eschatology. It is from this strand of research that Rocha Pitta will develop his current project at Delfina Foundation, a creation of a monument with food, informed by the legend of Defunta Correa, an Argentinian devoted mythical figure who died dehydrated in the desert and whose baby survived sucking milk in her dead breast.
Daniel Salomon (Denmark/Germany/France) has been working at the intersection of language, economy, utopia and cultural identity. For instance, he has previously focused on the constructed language Esperanto, using it as inspiration for, among other things, a sitcom, a world currency and a football team. Food is a central part of Salomon’s work, from performative dinners to restaurants and cooking classes. While at Delfina Foundation, he will be focusing on and experimenting with processes of fermentation. The process of bacteria and fungi interacting, coevolving, exchanging DNA, competing, dying and feeding on the organic rest of each other can be translated as an allegory of human societies, the complexity of human interaction and our relationship to other species and the environment in general.
Lantian Xie (United Arab Emirates) makes images about Dubai, often looking at the performance of nationhood, aspiration, and belonging through food service and dining spaces. He is particularly interested in cafeteria menus, hotel lobbies, and home-delivery hotline music. During his time at Delfina Foundation, Xie hopes to work towards two projects based on research about London as context for migration of cultural capital in proximity to West Asia and the Gulf. The first of these projects expands upon an ongoing series of transcriptions of out-of-print cookbooks frequently used by various diaspora communities as material heritage. The second of these projects involves new work about the annual flow of Gulf tourists who travel to London and the hospitality economies that cater to this.
The Center for Genomic Gastronomy (United States / Norway) is an artist-led think tank founded by Zack Denfeld and Cathrine Kramer in 2010, that examines the biotechnologies and biodiversity of human food systems. Work by the Center has taken various forms, including a 3-month pop-up restaurant, a supper club that travels the globe and sculptural artefacts that imagine alternative cuisines and possible food futures. For instance, their project Cobalt-60 Sauce is a barbeque sauce made from radiation-bred ingredients, revisiting the hype and hope surrounding the introduction of mutation breeding in the 1950s and 60s. During the residency members of the Center for Genomic Gastronomy will be developing a film to depict some of the ways humans manipulate the planet for food production and consumption. In particular, they will be developing the sections of the film that have a focus on the concept of disaster based on two of the centre's current research projects, Cobalt-60 Sauce and Disaster Pharming.
Marta Arzak (Spain) is a freelance curator with a specialism in food, having worked with chef Ferran Adrià’s and elBulli’s project for Documenta 12, and an exhibition entitled Frying Water, which aimed to metaphorically provide insight into how chefs do culinary research. Born into a family of distinguished chefs, the famous Arzak restaurant run by her father and sister in the Basque country, the expertise of her family life influences her practice. The residency at Delfina Foundation will give Arzak the opportunity to expand her research into diet, nutrition, marketing and identity in order to think about future projects. In particular, she has an interest in cooking as a tool for social change.
Christine Mackey (Ireland) is an artist and independent researcher who employs diverse disciplines, subject matter and tactics in devising works that can generate different kinds of knowledge of place – their hidden histories and ecological formations. Using diverse graphic sources and quasi-scientific methods, her work explores the interactive potential of art as a research and pedagogical tool; its capacity for social and environmental change and as a way of organizing diverse knowledge systems for a ‘social’ model of practice coupled with diverse publics. In this respect, her work reconsiders the variable manifestations of ‘drawing’, the materiality of ‘conversation’ and the slow activity of ‘walking’ as a generative discipline that attempts to activate new ideas related to site, agency and ecology. It is through the depth of these dynamic interactions of territories and flows that informs how our relationships to the landscape and the natural world are culturally conditioned and subject to change. While at Delfina Foundation, Mackey will develop a research project that will interrogate and examine global conditioning of climate change on food production and soil deprivation.
Dagna Jakubowska (Poland) has a performative practice that investigates the politics of food sharing rituals and food-related processes. Her recent performances have looked at cuisine as national manifestos, examining local cuisines through the lenses of economy, culture and politics and offering counter-tastes to the symbolic conflicts and traumas of Central Europe. Her curated project Kitchen Politics was an interdisciplinary festival that brought together the aspects of her practice by thinking about the political decisions that cause war, economic disasters or artificial famine, and this forms the basis of her current project development. While at Delfina Foundation, Jakubowska will spend time researching the culinary fantasies of decision-makers in times of crisis, investigating the power of food and food-sharing rituals in diplomacy. For this, she will research forgotten recipes, reconstructing dishes that were desired and consumed in times of political catastrophes.
From a background in traditional Islamic crafts and art history, Vanessa Hodgkinson (UK Associate) deals with the complexities of Orientalism and the Other in both historical and contemporary contexts. In her practice, Islamic art fuses with an interest in digital languages of programming and the Internet, shifting the logic of Islamic geometry to a more universal framework of the grid as a tool for producing images. Her research is diverse and she is currently working on a project about the history of women who dressed as men in order to go to sea. As a UK Associate, Hodgkinson will be continuing her research into cannibalism, crossing through all three of the subthemes of the residency, with cannibalism as sexual fantasy, as health-related, and present at the site’s of disasters when food is scarce. Furthermore, Cannibalism allows for a critique of Otherness and western moral hegemony, with tribes and non-western communities vilified and stereotyped through portrayals of cannibalism as an act of pure evil.
The Politics of Food – Season 2 is made possible thanks to the support of Delfina Foundation's family of individual patrons.
Additional thanks to: Alserkal Avenue, Dubai / Arts Council England / Baibakov Art Projects / Danish Arts Foundation/ Farook Foundation / Goldsmiths, University of London / Malek and Maria Sukkar / Mendes Wood DM / Mohamed & Perihan Bassatne / Instytut Adama Mickiewicza / Office of Cultural and Scientific Affairs of the Embassy of Spain in London / Office for Contemporary Art Norway / Polish Cultural Institute / Sprovieri Gallery / The Mosaic Rooms / Vega Sicilia / We Can't be There Series