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The Taste of Art: Cooking, Food, and Counterculture in Contemporary Practices

The Taste of Art: Cooking, Food, and Counterculture in Contemporary Practices

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The Taste of Art: Cooking, Food, and Counterculture in Contemporary Practices

570 pages
8 heures
Jun 1, 2017


The Taste of Art offers a sample of scholarly essays that examine the role of food in Western contemporary art practices. The contributors are scholars from a range of disciplines, including art history, philosophy, film studies, and history. As a whole, the volume illustrates how artists engage with food as matter and process in order to explore alternative aesthetic strategies and indicate countercultural shifts in society.

The collection opens by exploring the theoretical intersections of art and food, food art’s historical root in Futurism, and the ways in which food carries gendered meaning in popular film. Subsequent sections analyze the ways in which artists challenge mainstream ideas through food in a variety of scenarios. Beginning from a focus on the body and subjectivity, the authors zoom out to look at the domestic sphere, and finally the public sphere.

Here are essays that study a range of artists including, among others, Filippo Tommaso Marinetti, Daniel Spoerri, Dieter Roth, Joseph Beuys, Al Ruppersberg, Alison Knowles, Martha Rosler, Robin Weltsch, Vicki Hodgetts, Paul McCarthy, Luciano Fabro, Carries Mae Weems, Peter Fischli and David Weiss, Janine Antoni, Elżbieta Jabłońska, Liza Lou, Tom Marioni, Rirkrit Tiravanija, Michael Rakowitz, and Natalie Jeremijenko.

Jun 1, 2017

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The Taste of Art




The University of Arkansas Press



Copyright © 2017 by The University of Arkansas Press

All rights reserved

Manufactured in the United States of America

ISBN: 978-1-68226-025-8

e-ISBN: 978-1-61075-607-5

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Designed by Liz Lester

The paper used in this publication meets the minimum requirements of the American National Standard for Permanence of Paper for Printed Library Materials Z39.48-1984.

Library of Congress Control Number: 2016962679

COVER IMAGE: Allen Ruppersberg’s installation Al’s Café,

photograph by Gary Krueger, courtesy of Allen Ruppersberg.


Series Editors’ Preface

Jennifer Jensen Wallach and Michael Wise



Silvia Bottinelli and Margherita d’Ayala Valva

PART I: Taste of Art: Methodologies and Critical Approaches

Chapter 1. Can Cuisine Be Art?: A Philosophical (and Heterodox) Proposal

Nicola Perullo

Chapter 2. Time Changes Everything: Futurist/Modernist Cooking

Carol Helstosky

Chapter 3. From Stove to Screen: Food Porn, Professional Chefs, and the Construction of Masculinity in Films

Fabio Parasecoli

Chapter 4. Spoerri Reads Rumohr: The Spirit of Culinary Art Revisited

Margherita d’Ayala Valva

PART II: Food Art: Multisensoriality and Experience

Chapter 5. Food, Decay, and Disgust: Paul McCarthy’s Bossy Burger as Contemporary Still Life

Anja Foerschner

Chapter 6. In & On: Herbs, Fish, and Janine Antoni’s Touch

Silvia Bottinelli

Chapter 7. Luciano Fabro: Bitter Sweets for Nadezhda Mandelstam

Sharon Hecker

PART III: The Kitchen: Intersections between the Private and Public Spheres

Chapter 8. Feminist Art: Kitchen Testimony

Jody B. Cutler

Chapter 9. Es Geht Um Die Wurst: On Peter Fischli and David Weiss’s Sausage Photographs

Edward A. Vazquez

Chapter 10. Elżbieta Jabłońska’s Kitchen Interventions: Food, Art, and the Maternal Identity

Barbara Kutis

PART IV: Eating Out: Food Art in the Public Sphere

Chapter 11. Artists and Friends: Daniel Spoerri’s Eat Art Gallery

Cecilia Novero

Chapter 12. Express Yourself: Al’s Café in Context

Rachel Federman

Chapter 13. Ways of Eating: Tradition, Innovation, and the Production of Community in Food-Based Art

Laurie Beth Clark and Michael Peterson

PART V: Not for Art’s Sake: Ethics, Ecology, and Sustainability

Chapter 14. Joseph Beuys: Gastrosophical Aesthetics

Harald Lemke

Chapter 15. Provisional Objects: Alison Knowles’s Bean Rolls

Nicole L. Woods

Chapter 16. Cooking and Eating across Species: Natalie Jeremijenko’s Cross(x)Species Adventure Club

Lindsay Kelley





The University of Arkansas Press Series on Food and Foodways explores historical and contemporary issues in global food studies. We are committed to representing a diverse set of voices that tell lesser known food stories and to provoking new avenues of interdisciplinary research. Our strengths are works in the humanities and social sciences that use food as a critical lens to examine broader cultural, environmental, and ethical issues.

Feeding ourselves has long entangled human beings within complicated moral puzzles of social injustice and environmental destruction. When we eat, we consume not only food on the plate, but also the lives and labors of innumerable plants, animals, and people. This process distributes its costs unevenly across race, class, gender, and other social categories. The production and distribution of food often obscures these material and cultural connections, impeding honest assessments of our impacts on the world around us. By taking these relationships seriously, Food and Foodways provides a new series of critical studies that analyze the cultural and environmental relationships that have sustained human societies.

This innovative essay collection, The Taste of Art: Cooking, Food, and Counterculture in Contemporary Practices, furthers our mandate to examine underexplored aspects of food culture by examining food art, which the editors of the volume, Silvia Bottinelli and Margherita d’Ayala Valva, define as artwork that utilizes food as both material and process. Food art, for instance, goes beyond representations of food in still life paintings or painted meal scenes by conceptualizing food itself as an artistic medium and the process of eating and cooking as artistic (and political) actions. From these critical perspectives, food can expand the capacities of what constitutes art, and art can help subvert the normative cultural limits that certain foods often serve to naturalize. This methodologically expansive collection explores the intentions of food artists working in a variety of modes of artistic expression. A truly unique collection of essays, the volume provides a new set of approaches toward integrating the study of food within both the arts and humanities disciplines, and should excite and inspire readers with diverse backgrounds and interests.



First of all, we are grateful to Jennifer Jensen Wallach and Michael Wise for believing in our project. We also thank all the University of Arkansas Press staff that we had the pleasure to collaborate with. This book would have not been possible without the impressive work of all its contributors. We would like to thank each of them for their competence and punctuality. We must also acknowledge Nicole Caruth, Claudia Salaris, and Peter Scholliers, who were involved in the initial phases of this project and inspired subsequent developments. A heartfelt thank-you goes to those who shared their feedback with us during the various stages of this book’s preparation, and in particular Matthew Collins, Emily Green, Peter Lieberman, Valerie Moon, and Diane O’Donoghue. We are truly grateful to Julie K. Stone and Gediminas and Nomeda Urbonas for the many conversations on edible gardens as well as food production and consumption in the context of activist art. Many thanks also to Shilpa Prasad, Simone Lenzi, and Roberto Abbiati, scholars and gastronaut friends, namely irreverent foodies, for stimulating our reflection on the apparent silliness and indeed profound significance of food fashions and trends.

Several of the essays in this volume benefit from the generosity and availability of the artists whose work is discussed in the texts. We must thank profusely Janine Antoni, Peter Fischli, Elżbieta Jabłońska, Alison Knowles, Liza Lou, Paul McCarthy, Barbara Räderscheidt, Martha Rosler, Al Ruppersberg, and Daniel Spoerri. Our sincere thanks also go to curator Meredith Johnson and artist Rachel Budde for sharing their invaluable insights on the piece In & On by Janine Antoni.

In addition, the following individuals, galleries, and institutions deserve our gratitude for having given permission to publish selected visual sources: the Archive of Luciano and Carla Fabro, the Cleveland Art Museum, Creative Time New York, the Getty Research Institute, the Luhring Augustine Gallery New York, Giovanni Ricci, the Dieter Roth Foundation, and the Whitney Museum.

We truly appreciate the role played by our students in the shaping of this volume, because many of the thoughts and arguments articulated here were inspired by lively discussions in our classrooms at the Scuola Normale Superiore in Pisa and the School of the Museum of Fine Arts at Tufts University in Boston. We thank the institutions that we are affiliated with for their generous support to our studies. Our colleagues gave us constant advice on the subject of this book; among them we would like to mention especially Lauren Kimball Brown, Magdalena Campos Pons, Jim Dow, Mags Harries, Darin Murphy, and Ashley Peterson.

On the home front, many helped us to devote time to our research, by watching our beloved children, Benjamin and Johannes (Margherita’s boys) and Arianna and Giulia (Silvia’s girls). We are indebted to Alexander Auf der Heyde, Diego Puppin, Gina Corvino, Olga Brown, Maria Cristina Mazzoni, Tabea Bock, and Henrieke Homburg.

Last but not least, it has been an immense privilege to develop The Taste of Art together. We must thank each other for having been such organized yet self-ironic, strict yet understanding team workers. We look forward to many more collaborations in the future.


Whether bathing in soup or leaving rotten leftovers in museum corners, cooking on oversized stoves in front of gallery visitors, or inviting unfamiliar guests to share homemade meals, these apparently unrelated actions have at least two elements in common: food and art. In fact, they are fundamental components of performative pieces by Janine Antoni, Paul McCarthy, Elżbieta Jabłońska, and Lee Mingwei. The work of these artists offers a taste of the plethora of implications related to art that is focused on food production, processing, and consumption.

Food art—a term that we use to define art which uses food as material and process—has been blessed with an impressively positive reception because of its ability to respond to the contemporaneous societal and cultural concerns with food, health, and sustainability.

A thorough study of food art depends on a cross-disciplinary perspective, because of the multifaceted incarnations of artworks concerned with food; diverse mediums, modes of participation, as well as commentaries on global and local societies are at play in pieces involving eating and cooking. Our approach is that of two art historians confronting food studies as a challenge, and considering the focus on food as a way to reread some important issues of contemporary art and culture. We would like to guide our readers—not only art historians but also food historians, artists, and philosophers—through a selection of both historicized and contemporary artistic experiences dealing with food.

Despite the interdisciplinary range of the contributions included in this volume, our main questions stem from the art historical discourse, and our point of departure is the subversive role of food within the art system.

Artists who choose to incorporate food in their work tend to do so as a way to challenge mainstream expectations. Food art has thus revealed its potential as a form of counterculture. Our use of this term in the present volume’s title and text describes not only the behavioral revolutions of the 1960s and 1970s, but also a superhistorical category, which indicates the intention to break established boundaries by reaching beyond commonly accepted norms.

This attitude is already evident in early European avant-gardes like Dadaism and Futurism. Futurist cuisine, in particular, sought to systematically reorganize the eating habits of the whole Italian nation. Since the 1960s, European and North American neo-avant-gardes, among which Fluxus, Eat Art, and Arte Povera, returned to the incorporation of food in art projects that adopted a confrontational approach. As argued by Cecilia Novero in her seminal book Antidiets of the Avant-Garde, these movements do not programmatically search for a pleasurable experience through taste.¹ On the contrary, ingredients might be cacophonously paired, or even provocatively inedible. The artists’ goals range from opening up to nontraditional materials to bridging the distance between art and life in order to critique traditional classifications of art mediums such as painting, sculpture, and architecture. The avant-gardes have legitimized the entrance of food into the realm of art materials, beyond the representation of food as subject matter. In fact, while food as iconography has inhabited still lifes and banquet scenes for centuries, the actual experience of it as sculptural material, as well as the performative acts of eating or processing foods, have become part of the artistic language in the context of the avant-gardes.² The founder of the Eat Art movement, Daniel Spoerri, maintains that our aesthetic categories need to be challenged, by focusing on cooking and eating as art forms. The traditional hierarchies of the senses have proven obsolete when describing these kinds of performative experiences; the rediscovered sense of taste engenders new means of artistic production both in the private and public spheres. Cuisine reveals its artistic scope if the participants in the cooking-eating experience can free themselves from the visual boundaries of perception; through consumption, food does not vanish but rather changes into something else and even transforms the eater.

Thus, in the 1960s and 1970s, not only food art challenged the limits of what was defined as fine art; but it also reinvented the role of the viewers, who became active participants in works of edible art.

In addition, food art questioned the identity of the art gallery by founding new spaces for art consumption, as in the case of Allen Ruppersberg’s Al’s Café in Los Angeles (1969) and Gordon Matta-Clark’s Food in New York City (1971). Furthermore, feminist performance and installation art, like the notable collaborative pieces created for Womanhouse (1972) in Los Angeles, revisited the domestic spaces of cooking and dining to question accepted gender roles.

During the 1980s, the theoretical interest in identity politics was mirrored by food art, as Jana Sterbak’s Vanitas: Flesh Dress for an Albino Anorectic exemplifies. This 1987 piece is constituted by a size-38 dress sewn out of flank steak. Sterbak emphasizes that women’s bodies tend to be so bluntly objectified that they are often treated as pure flesh—subject to decay and depreciated with aging. It is through the skillful triggering of an emotion of disgust that the artist makes the public intimately aware of biased social dynamics.

Since the 1990s relational aesthetics practices often include food as generative of sharing, generosity, and giving, as a counter to the culture of individualism and isolation that characterizes capitalist societies. In many cases, food is used as a tool for community building. Amy Franceschini and Fritz Haeg, among others, employ edible materials in relational practices that challenge industrial food systems. They critique the mainstream culture of fast foods and promote food that is not only intended as a product to be consumed, but also as a material to be grown organically with earth-friendly methods.

As a scholarly inquiry, the subject of food has a well-established genealogy. While we don’t aim to provide an overview of food studies as a discipline here, it is important to consider the instances in which scholarship on food impacted the making and interpreting of art in the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries. Most of the Eat Art artists discussed in this volume are well aware of the main reference points of post-structuralist studies from the 1960s and 1970s. For example, Daniel Spoerri read Lévi-Strauss’s The Raw and the Cooked (1969), looking for answers to his quest of archetypes (primeval cooking).³ In the 1980s, when movements such as slow food started raising awareness about the social role of eating, pushing for a reevaluation of food craftsmanship from below, the same artist contributed to the journal La Gola—the Italian magazine, which focused on material culture and paved the way to the slow food movement. The stress on material culture and the rediscovery of local traditions battled against the overbearing influence of the global market, consumerism, and fast food habits, and Spoerri took the slow food side, being informed and self-conscious enough to understand the changed context since the time that had given birth to Eat Art. Indeed, it is during the last thirty years that the ethical connotations of food have been explored by philosophers and scholars, and food is now just as much about politics and ethics as it is about sustenance: many feel the pressure to shop and eat responsibly, healthfully, and sustainably.

The definition of food art’s historical narratives is a work in process, which we participate in shaping through this very volume. Being aware of influential contributions to the field will help the reader understand this volume within a genealogy of thought. We choose to overview both academic publications and seminal exhibitions as precedents for our scholarly publication. We recognize the important differences between curatorial and art historical contributions in scope, goals, and fruition; yet it is also important to recognize that select curatorial projects have proven instrumental in pinning down critical ideas related to the use of food by twentieth- and twenty-first-century artists.

The 2010 show Counter Space: Design and the Modern Kitchen⁴ at the Museum of Modern Art in New York was inspired by the museum’s acquisition of a Frankfurt kitchen designed by Grete Schütte-Lihotzky in 1926–1927. This design history exhibition functioned as an opportunity to include an overarching section titled Kitchen Sink Dramas, sampling pop, feminist, and Eat Art pieces since the 1960s. This section highlights how the space of the kitchen, which modernist designers had infused with ideals of efficiency and rationality, was seen by contemporaneous artists as a contested battleground where anxieties would leaven.

Also in 2010, Alexandra Alisauskas edited Aesthetes and Eaters: Food and the Arts: starting from the analysis of Ferran Adrià’s presence at Documenta 12 (2006) and the assumed lack of a shared vocabulary to describe this experience, the essays investigated the role of food in art history interrelating social and art historical theories.⁵ This collection highlights heterogeneous areas of investigation in the realm of art and food, by devoting sections to topics as diverse as the retooling of utensils; the treatment of the menu as a medium; the sensorial stimulation of edible materials; and the eliciting of the uncanny in art about food. Aesthetes and Eaters offers unprecedented examples of scholarly inquiry in food art. Likewise, The Taste of Art uses a scholarly approach; however, its organization has a more comprehensive ambition, especially focusing on Western art.

In 2009 and 2010 the exhibition Eating the Universe in Düsseldorf, Germany, reflected on food art as a metaphorical appropriation of knowledge and included a retrospective on the Eat Art movement, centered in 1970s Düsseldorf, as well as a section on the contemporary food art scene.⁶ The title Eating the Universe referred to the 1972 New York television show, where Austrian artist Peter Kubelka transformed the broadcast studio into a cooking workshop, cooking in front of a studio audience while explaining the basis of his philosophy: the recognition of cooking, eating, and digesting as the dearest of all the encounters given to us by nature with the universe surrounding us, a universe to which we completely belong, which makes our existence possible and which nourishes us.⁷ Within Kubelka’s idea of cooking as the oldest visual art—not in the sense of particularly beautifully arranged dishes, but as capacity to deal with products from our environment that involve human and cultural evolution—the public of the Düsseldorf exhibition was confronted with a selection of artists who dealt with food from various perspectives. Among them, one could find Sonja Alhäuser’s butter installations, Dustin Ericksen and Mike Roger’s Cups project, video documentation of Paul McCarthy’s performances, Mika Rothenberg’s video installations, Jana Sterbak’s Flesh Dress for an Albino Anorectic, and Rirkrit Tiravanija’s cooking performances.

On the contrary, the show Feast at the Smart Museum in Chicago, in 2012, had a more particular focus. In fact it was specifically concerned with the concept of hospitality in the context of meal sharing.⁸ The exhibition catalogue presents an anthology of primary sources on each artist involved in the show; and a small selection of brief essays that discuss topics ranging from the culture of hospitality in Virginia Woolf’s writing to historical feasts in the Middle East. This selection, like in the case of Aesthetes and Eaters, offers in-depth yet sparse analyses.

Feast targeted a general public. This is even more true for Expo 2015, which took place in Milan, Italy, appealing to a very broad audience. The event was a contemporary incarnation of World Fairs.⁹ Tellingly, the subtitle Feeding the Planet indicated how Expo 2015 explored the economy, culture, and sustainability of food in the contemporary world. Beyond a cornucopia of spectacular but sometimes superficial pavilions, Expo 2015 included two exhibitions dedicated to art, design, and dining spaces at the Museum of the Triennale. Arts and Foods and Kitchens and Invaders,¹⁰ curated by Germano Celant and Silvana Annichiarico, combined showcases of art and design to investigate the ways in which public and private dining have transformed since 1851. The accompanying catalogues include an array of cross-disciplinary essays authored by established and emerging scholars and critics. The wide chronological and geographical scope of the publications, which mirror the exhibitions’ diverse range, makes them a remarkable survey which purposefully avoids providing in-depth analysis of specific case studies. By contrast, presenting complex and articulated discussions of selected historically and culturally contextualized examples is one of The Taste of Art’s goals.

While other Italian exhibitions shed light on popular topics such as food advertisement in the postwar period or food design, the University of Gastronomic Sciences in Pollenzo hosted a conference on Food, Philosophy and Art, which posed theoretical questions: what place does art hold in the kitchen?¹¹ Is creativity inherent to food and cuisine? How do ethics and aesthetics interact in gastronomy?¹² Nicola Perullo’s contribution to The Taste of Art is a significant synthesis of the symposium’s approach, and it raises substantial questions on the relationship of food and art.¹³

Other methodologically sophisticated studies include recent French research, which introduces the idea of culinary art as artification of the everyday practice, suggesting a new consideration of cuisine as a form of cultural heritage and investigating its relationship with aesthetics.¹⁴

In addition, international methodological trends in Western art histories are currently reconsidering the centrality of the art object and its materiality, which encompasses the interest in nontraditional materials such as food.¹⁵ The emergence of new interdisciplinary approaches attentive to conservation science issues, known as Technical Art History, has led to a critical reevaluation of all art materials—from pigments to objects and bodies, from foodstuffs to the infinite variations on mixed media—while also considering the strategic selection of materials for their aesthetic qualities and their power to signify.¹⁶ Food art can then be studied in its materiality and its ability to produce new sorts of palettes and textual sources.

Of course, food’s immaterial legacy, linked to memory, identity, and performativity, is no less important. For this reason, food is examined both as art material and process in the essays incorporated in The Taste of Art. Some of our contributors consider the potential of food in defining personal narratives and political identities; others study the spaces of food processing and dining, both in the domestic and public realm, and assess the recent concern with sustainable food production addressed by artists through participatory projects since the 1990s.

We invited contributions from scholars in different disciplines, such as art history and art practice, philosophy and history, performance studies, media, and gender studies.

The volume includes essays by a diverse group of exceptional authors from a number of different countries, although areas such as Italy and the United States, where a remarkable research interest in food studies has developed in the past ten years, are strongly represented. The Taste of Art’s structure groups the essays into five main sections.

To signify our strong commitment to a multilayered and multi-disciplinary approach, we dedicate the opening section to methodological issues, and present critical readings from the points of view of philosophy, history, film studies, and a stream of art historical research that pays special attention to the analysis of primary sources.

The subsequent thematic sections discuss the use of food in art projects concerned with multisensoriality, physical perception, and the construction of knowledge. Shifting the focus from the individual to the space that s/he inhabits, the third section includes articles that examine the domestic kitchen, which is seen as a site that questions the separation between the private and public spheres. Artist restaurants and public dining are the topics of the fourth section, while participatory pieces concerned with ethics, economies, and sustainability expand on the idea of public space in the fifth section.

It is important to underline that the readers will find additional trajectories linking various essays across the boundaries created by the volume’s structure. We actively point to similarities or parallels among selected essays both in the notes of each text and in this very introduction.

The first section of the volume introduces the idea that food art can be approached from various points of view, and samples some of them: from a philosophical digression on cuisine as art to the discussion of culinary histories; from food’s representation in film, to the analysis of artist writing practices as a backdrop to Eat Art performance.

The book opens with Nicola Perullo’s essay. Perullo’s nine theses see cuisine as the art of the everyday, holding both aesthetic and creative value. Instead of trying to find analogies with the fine arts, Perullo suggests an inversion of perspective. This implies conceiving cuisine as art both in its most ancient sense—as tèchne, craftsmanship, and material practice—and in terms of originality and creativity (such as represented by the so-called avant-garde cuisine). Thus, culinary art is synthesized through the acceptance and binary integration of both notions of the new (avant-garde, originality, shock) and the known (tradition, comfort, familiarity), as is also suggested by Laurie Beth Clark and Michael Peterson. Their perspective is that of studio artists who contextualize their own work by positioning it in the frame of other relational food art experiences, which merge tradition and the avant-garde. Perullo addresses similar issues from the perspective of a philosopher with a high degree of competence in experimental cuisine. His essay presents cuisine as a matter of taste, where taste is understood as originating from an art of joy and pleasure. The question of taste, approached from an ethical point of view, is also thoroughly examined by Harald Lemke. His essay for this volume specifically discusses Beuys’s installation substituting Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason with Maggi-Würze, a brand of German soya-sauce, as a means to contradict the notion of disinterested taste.

The second essay of the first section is Carol Helstosky’s contribution, which analyzes the legacy of Futurist cooking on modern avant-garde cuisine, and discusses the dichotomy of tradition and modernity within the frame of historical research. Starting with a contextualization of the Futurists’ stance on food, Helstosky constructs a comparison between the early avant-garde and recent practices of molecular gastronomy. This kind of reading connects pre–World War II movements with more recent phenomena, that see the kitchen as a site for experimentation and contestation. The Futurists staged performative events, opened a restaurant, launched a manifesto, and wrote a cookbook. Helstosky reveals how significant their revolutionary approach was, in that the Futurists advanced a new way to think about food, as an alternative to the values of sustenance and pleasure: "all of their dishes, drinks, and menu plans constituted social and political commentary and were intended to make the diner think." Molecular cuisine—the author specifically refers to Ferran Adrià—has inherited this use of food to challenge the diner, in order to stimulate emotional and intellectual responses through the deconstruction and reconstruction of well-known dishes.

Fabio Parasecoli’s essay proposes a reading of food from the disciplinary perspective of film studies. He focuses on visual representations of food porn aesthetics in the food film genre—referred to as a specific approach offering images so pleasurable and attractive that they can satisfy viewers excluded from any actual consumption of food. The essay identifies recurrent visual narratives that enhance the status of chefs as creative artists and skilled experts in postindustrial societies. By considering films from very different cultures, the text assesses the wide diffusion and uniformity of both the food porn approach and its use to reinforce traditional gender roles (women’s nurturing role, male chefs’ traits as leaders and entrepreneurs). Parasecoli examines what he calls the aural code employed to represent cooking and eating scenes, a strategy that emphasizes visual aspects over the taste experience (as also mentioned and questioned by Perullo’s theses). Putting the stress on the visuals contributes to shape popular cultural ideas of ornamental cookery, once identified by Roland Barthes in his commentary on food photography in Elle magazine.¹⁷ As a matter of fact—according to Parasecoli—the images from most recent food films reinforce stereotypical gender identities, impacting the growing audience of foodies worldwide. This contribution shows how a careful examination of popular visual culture may integrate the study of food as a form of art, combining the high and the low, the avant-garde and the everyday.

Another disciplinary approach among the many that are potentially applicable to the study of food art is the focus on art historical sources, proposed by Margherita d’Ayala Valva’s contribution. From this point of view, artists’ writing on food can be seen as a particular kind of source that is halfway between the technical treatise on craftsmanship and the cookbook, entertains intense relationships with these literary traditions, and owes much to both. As d’Ayala Valva’s essay shows, to Daniel Spoerri culinary writing has the meaning of an autobiographical, archaeological assemblage, an intricate construction/deconstruction of the self. His Gastronomic Itinerary (an anecdotal recipe diary kept by the artist during one month of his stay on the Greek island of Symi, from 1966 to 1967) assembles scholarly-like references and personal narratives as a form of topographic-artistic-linguistic decontextualization. Looking back to his sources, Spoerri significantly chooses unusual examples of cookbooks quoting heterodox texts, with neither distance nor authority, with the attitude of a Universaldilettant, thus identifying with nineteenth-century scholar Carl Friedrich von Rumohr, author of The Spirit of Culinary Art (1822). This essay proposes both an analysis of the artist’s reading-writing practice and an interpretation of his daily and decennial research on food in the context of gastronomic literature, as it tries to decrypt the distance or oedipal filiation among authors enjoyingly read, mocked at, and repeatedly quoted. This argument retraces a thread in Spoerri’s own attitude toward food, suggesting what the author calls palindromic reading of his own writing, manipulating and performing around food.

After giving a taste of possible methodological approaches to the study of food art, the volume goes back to the roots of the eating experience. The articles of the second section analyze art that comments on the sensorial encounters between food and the body. Touch, smell, taste, and sight help us to gather information about food. In order to make us rethink our relationship with food as material, source of sustenance, product of the earth, and symbol of prosperity, artists like Paul McCarthy and Janine Antoni exaggerate our perceptions or shuffle up our expectations about table manners. Anja Foerschner’s "Food, Decay, and Disgust: Paul McCarthy’s Bossy Burger as Contemporary Still Life" pinpoints the dichotomies that govern the relationship between food and the body: happiness and compulsion, restriction and obsession, pleasure and disgust. The author interprets McCarthy’s flirting with hyperabundant flows of mayonnaise and ketchup as a moral warning against the unpleasant consequences of consumerism. Decay of organic material reminds us that freshness and plenitude are not forever.

The bodily disgust triggered by seeing and smelling rotting foods parallels the rejection of excessive wealth that should drive consumer choices in contemporary society.

Janine Antoni’s work, discussed in Silvia Bottinelli’s "In & On: Herbs, Fish, and Janine Antoni’s Touch," also plays with multisensoriality and disgust, although for different reasons. In fact, in the 2011 relational artwork In & On the artist aims to push the viewers slightly outside of their comfort zone by having their bodies absorb the same ingredients through the mouth and the pores. Taste and touch—the tongue and the skin—both have the ability to feel food. The initially repulsive effect of eating the same ingredients that can be found in body care products translates into a deep and intimate awareness. Some themes Bottinelli finds consistently addressed throughout Antoni’s body of work; collaboration, multisensoriality, viscerality, dialectic interplay with raw materials, and a strong interest in the origin of familiar ingredients have all reoccured in the artist’s visual strategies since the 1990s. One more recent exhibition, titled From the Vow Made (Luhring Augustine Gallery in Chelsea, New York City, on view from March 21 to April 25, 2015), continues to develop some of these themes by exploring the associations evoked by milagros (votive offerings), which link references to body parts or domestic objects to ideas of protection, preservation, and healing.¹⁸ In Antoni’s art, knowledge is achieved through the senses.

Sharon Hecker’s analysis of Luciano Fabro’s 1990 piece Computers di Luciano Fabro, caramelle di Nadezda Mandel’stam articulates this principle further, by unveiling the links between body and mind, taste and memory. The artist wraps candy in papers that include photocopied citations of Nadezda’s memoir. Her husband, Osip Mendelstam, wrote a poem that criticized Stalin’s governance during the Soviet regime—an act that cost him his life. Nadezda was asked to destroy all the copies of Osip’s controversial writings, but she resisted the command by saving the poems on scrap paper between her kitchen pans, as well as by memorizing them. Memory preserved the words and also a bittersweet episode from Nadezda’s life. Stalin’s policemen searched her apartment to check that Osip’s poems had been destroyed, and they offered her candy. Fabro cites this episode by wrapping candy in phrases from Nadezda’s memoir. He makes a close association between food for the body and food for the mind. His work reflects on the cognitive role of eating, seen as a way to recall memories starting from sensorial acquisition of data. However, sweetness can sometimes be misleading and deceptive, because it can push the eater to swallow unpleasant truths. Remarkably, Fabro uses the sense of taste as a tool for indexing personal narratives of historical relevance.

The intertwining of personal and political meanings in Fabro’s work introduces the reader to the theme of this volume’s third section: The Kitchen: Intersections between Private and Public. While the site of the kitchen plays a marginal role in Nadezda’s narrative, it becomes central to the art discussed by Jody B. Cutler, Edward A. Vazquez, and Barbara Kutis.

Jody Cutler’s paper carefully compares four prominent examples of feminist art, in which the kitchen is the protagonist. Cutler discusses the cultural specificity of Nurturant Kitchen, attributed to Robin Weltsch and Vicki Hodgetts (1972), Martha Rosler’s Semiotics of the Kitchen (1975), Carrie Mae Weems’s Kitchen Table Series (1990), and Kitchen, by Liza Lou (1995). In the process of considering the ways in which gender, race, and generational identity affect the perception of the kitchen, Culter describes the multifaceted meanings that the kitchen can elicit. While being aware of the specificity of each case study, the author draws clear connections between the works that she analyzes. For example, she shows how they all embraced mediums such as photography, installation, video performance, and crafts, which were considered marginal by the market and by most galleries at the time in which the pieces were created. Also, all the works revisit the site of the kitchen to question cultural expectations of gender and race, often reinforced by advertisements and TV shows.

Another perspective on the kitchen is offered by Peter Fischli and David Weiss, who also question the monolithic and banal reputation of the site.

According to Edward Vazquez, Fischli and Weiss’s Sausage Photographs include culinary references that playfully point to the relationship between language and lived experience, photographic image and conceptual art. Vazquez skillfully positions the piece in the history of the neo-avant-garde, in particular conceptual photography and 1960s performance art, by establishing tight comparisons with works by artists such as Roth, Knowles, Ben, Polke, Ruscha, Nauman, and Baldessari. Fischli and Weiss’s series alludes to German ways of saying that make use of the sausage in metaphoric sense. Sausages are a commingling of materials, an amalgam of fragments taken from unidentifiable ingredients. By definition, they decontextualize and reshape the elements that they incorporate. The Sausage Photographs appropriate the technique of making sausages, which is reflected in the way that the artists construct their images. The photographs put together narrative scenes made out of camouflaged wursts and domestic corners reconfigured as sets. The oven, the bathroom mirror, or the refrigerator appear in disguise, as the sausages themselves that are dressed up as human characters. Like in a game, they pretend to be something else. The oven becomes a cave, the bathroom mirror a catwalk, and the fridge a spaceship launching ramp. The domestic plays make-believe, by imagining becoming something fashionable, heroic, or historical. The kitchen covers an important role in this series, because the scene sets are often made out of appliances. Kitchen appliances are symbolically associated with modernity and efficiency and are often represented as time-savers that enable the homemaker to spend hours outside of the house; here, they are portrayed as literally pretending to become public spaces. Yet these public spaces are seen as run down and slightly greasy.

In a more tautological way, Polish artist Elżbieta Jabłońska brings the kitchen appliances and counters into the gallery space, thus making them part of the public sphere. As discussed by Barbara Kutis in her essay for this volume, titled Elżbieta Jabłońska’s Kitchen Interventions: Food, Art, and Maternal Identity, the artist impersonates the stereotypical Polish mother—a nourishing homemaker who feeds her family and guests without joining the others in the pleasures of eating. At the same time, Jabłońska also performs as herself: a woman artist who can participate in the art world also because she can master professional and networking skills. The realm of the family and the institution blend, thus challenging the assumptions of a separation between the private and public sphere. Different from many other women artists, Jabłońska emphasizes the warmth and energy of the home kitchen. By bringing the kitchen inside the museum, she encourages the public to recognize this quotidian space as a site of everyday creativity. She does not condemn the kitchen in and of itself. Rather, she questions the imposition of strict gender roles and advocates for a more flexible societal structure that may enable individuals to negotiate multiple identities.

The fourth section of this volume examines food art projects that take place outside the domestic environment, for example in the gallery, the restaurant, mobile kitchens, and other unorthodox milieus. Several threads sew together the essays of this section. Among them, let us highlight the stress on participation through various food art experiences, community building through food as a symbol, and the interaction between the notions of tradition and avant-garde in communal-dining experiences.

We reprint a chapter from Cecilia Novero’s book Antidiets of the Avant-Garde: From Futurist Cooking to Eat Art. In her essay Artists and Friends: Daniel Spoerri’s Eat Art Gallery, the author retraces Spoerri’s friends’ food interventions within the collaborative project of the Eat Art Gallery in Düsseldorf in 1970, in which the artists employed food as material, displaying edible multiples and performing actions. The experiments and experiences involved the whole body, both that of the artist and of the viewer/consumer, and addressed the physical and intellectual incorporation of inedible art. Novero explains and illustrates through various examples how the group of artists gathering around Spoerri took a stand in the philosophical discourse of what may constitute art, investigating, through uncategorized possibilities of creativity, the boundaries between aesthetic and nonaesthetic experience in a typically neo-avant-gardist way. In this context, food is explored within the notion, adapted from Lévi-Strauss, of savage diet as bricolage, namely as "the raw material of this art and

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