The International Migration Art Festival has come to New York with the exhibition “Eat Art – When Food Becomes Art,” drawing on the relationship between food and migration.
What do you call prosciutto with a human tongue and set of teeth hanging from the ceiling by a string? Art.
Never have I doubted the legitimacy of culinary art. The ability to create combinations of color, texture, aromas, culture, and taste is no small feat, especially in a world of self-proclaimed foodies. But culinary art exists in a cycle of reincarnation. It begs to be eaten, loved, and improved upon with new flares of personality. The fine arts, however, seek to defy practicality and sensibility—if it makes you want to vomit, that might be a good sign.
The exhibit “MANGIA L’ARTE” (“EAT ART”) blurs the lines between culinary and fine art. As a part of the International Migration Art Festival (IMAF), the exhibit features new talent from all over the world in literature, visual art, music, and film as they interpret Italian food and wine. There’s the element of cultural fusion, the exploration of new textures, tastes and personality…but there’s nothing to make your mouth water.
Case in point: the prosciutto with a human mouth hanging from the ceiling (also known as “Sweet ‘n Cruel”). It’s the first thing guaranteed to catch your eye when you walk into the gallery. Feel free to touch it, spin it around, and take really tacky pictures with it. I sure did. And don’t you go raising your artsy-fartsy nose at me for it. In my opinion, it’s part of the experience. Because it’s food, but it’s not quite food. And it’s art, but it’s not quite art. You’re disturbed by it, you’re amused by it, you’re confused by it.
I was also lucky enough to see the performance piece in connection with the installation called “Can I Have Another Question?” The installation is a big furry rug hung on the walls with the piece’s title shaved into it. There’s a row of chocolate molded baby faces and pleading arms with baskets of chocolate coins below. At the end of the night, the artist Ciriaca+Erre emerged to the sound of classical music, shrouded by a white sheet and clad only in her undergarments. She thrashed about, ate a lot of chocolate, spit out a lot of chocolate, and threw things at the audience. It was messy, kind of funny, kind of pathetic and kind of disturbing.
If you’re not afraid to challenge your relationship to food and art, I would suggest you check out the IMAF website or visit the New York exhibit, open until May 3rd at the Wook & Lattuda Art Gallery.