The Value of Food: Sustaining a Green Planet
The Cathedral Church of Saint John the Divine, New York
1047 Amsterdam Avenue @ 112th Street
New York, NY 10025
Curated by Kirby Gookin & Robin Kahn
www.ValueofFood.org (under construction)
October 6, 2015 – April 3, 2016
Saint John the Divine, The Cathedral of the Episcopal Diocese of New York is proud to present The Value of Food: Sustaining a Green Planet, a contemporary art exhibition guest-curated by Kirby Gookin and Robin Kahn. The Cathedral is the world’s largest Gothic structure visited by more than one million people annually. With its long history of engagement with issues of social justice, the environment, support for the arts, and community empowerment, it is a unifying center of intellectual leadership and an exceptional resource center of educational and cultural exhibitions and programs.
The Value of Food explores the dynamic and organic materiality of food and its integral role in sustaining human life. The artists in this exhibition work with food as a form of social engagement. Although their subjects and methodology vary, they each explore the intersection of food, art, commerce and community in order to engage the exhibition’s unifying theme: food justice.
Food security, accessibility and sustainability are a global concern. How will we feed the earth’s projected nine billion people in 2050? If we continue to farm and eat as we do, there will not be enough food to feed everyone. The Value of Food investigates how our decisions about food directly impact the balance of our social, political and ecological future.
Installed in a circular path within the Cathedral’s 14 bays and 7 chapels, as well as throughout its gardens, the exhibition is divided into seven thematic sections: Water, Soil, Seed, Farm, Market, Meal and Waste; each representing a spoke in the cycle of food production.
As in life, food is an essential ingredient in art. The ancient Roman poet Ovid described the art of brushing bread crumbs off of a woman’s lap as a flirting technique in Ars Armatoria; Italian Renaissance paintings of The Last Supper depict hefty carafes of wine and plates of sumptuous meats; while in the North still-life paintings of rotting fruit with flies and freshly killed game decorated the homes of noblemen for centuries.
The Value of Food is premised on an egalitarian ideal promulgated by a growing number of artists in the aftermath of World War II that recognizes that the materials of everyday life—a burlap sack, a candy wrapper, or detritus found in the street—are equally suitable ingredients of the artist’s palette as a tube of paint.
Since the 1960’s an international coterie of artists have expanded this principle to explore the representation and material use of food. Regardless of their method, they typically worked with food within the limited confines of a formal art gallery setting. Alison Knowles is a pioneer in this tradition, known for serving soups and salads to an art viewing audience since 1962. Daniel Spoerri, another innovator opened up a functioning restaurant in a Parisian art gallery in 1963. It wasn’t until the 1970’s that artists brought food back outside into the world, as when Carol Goodden and Gordon Matta-Clark opened Food, a cooperative restaurant formed as a “social sculpture” that employed and fed local artists in downtown Manhattan.
The artists in this exhibition have been inspired to expand the possible uses of food as an art medium. They are employing a variety of inventive strategies- seed banking, urban foraging, rooftop farming, composting, cooking and sharing meals- to further explore how food defines the quality of our physical, mental and spiritual well-being. The Value of Food will also be presenting a variety of educational programs, workshops and evening events, some in collaboration with Mother Jones, Magnum Foundation and Grace Communications Foundation, as well as with artists and guest speakers. Pull up a seat and join us at The Tables. Food becomes a meal only when it is shared.
Kirby Gookin & Robin Kahn, Guest Curators.
PARTICIPATING ARTISTS (list in formation):
Eating in Public
Hunger Through My Lens
Nigel Van Wieck
Peter Lamborn Wilson
With documentation and ephemera by additional artists involved in these many issues, including: Agnes Denes, Fluxus, Carol Goodden and Gordon Matta-Clark, Fritz Haeg, Corita Kent, Dieter Roth, Daniel Spoerri, Superflex, Rirkrit Tiravanija, among others.
For more information please contact:
Kirby Gookin: KirbyGookin@yahoo.com
Robin Kahn: RobinKahn@yahoo.com
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