While the subject of food fits into a long tradition of artistic representation, chiefly in the still life genre, the performance of food preparation seldom figures in art. “Test kitchen” is a cooking term that designates an experimental space for the development of new recipes. This exhibition brings together the work of artists from the early 1970s to the present, to investigate food as a conduit for ideas of social ritual, commerce, pleasure and visual representation.
In April 1977, Ingrid and Iain Baxter of N.E. Thing Co. opened the “Eye Scream Restaurant” at 2043 West 4th Avenue in Vancouver. Photodocumentation of “Eye Scream” presented in the exhibition recalls the playful combinations of art and cooking which contributed to Vancouver’s rich conceptual tradition. Test Kitchen also features video works by Glenn Lewis, Martha Rosler, and Demian Petryshyn investigating aspects of power involved in making and consuming food.
This will be the first Vancouver showing of Rosler’s A Budding Gourmet. The exhibition also traces certain shifts in the symbolic deployment of food in art since the 1990s. Kelly Wood’s photographs of sugar, Althea Thauberger’s Thanksgiving I (Chicken Dinner) and Rhonda Weppler’s simulations of mundane condiments examine aesthetic tropes of artifice and styling in food presentation. While Meesoo Lee’s video works treat food clichés with wit and humour, Kira Wu monumentalizes stories of her brothers in the restaurant profession through posters and a movie trailer.
This exhibition is curated by Jessie Caryl and Veronika Klaptocz with the assistance of Liz Bruchet, Jamila Dunn, Cara Krmpotich, and Michelle Willard, and with financial support from the Critical Curatorial Studies Masters Program, University of British Columbia.
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