On 3rd September 2016, five Mexican artists staged an intriguing food-related art exhibition at the University of Reading’s London Road campus. The works offered tastes from a though-provoking menu that included performance art with a chocolate-flavour, a slightly sinister jam study, a Food Glorious Food-style freezeframe and a neon-bright apple dissection.
The artists, in the UK with the First Food Residency (FFR), aim to shine a light on food’s historic, contemporary and cultural contexts. At this unusual exhibition one could spy a microscopic study of the flesh of an apple, an intense palette of pieces of bread and jam, somehow slightly sinister in their variety, or a participatory performance reflecting on childhood and chocolate – something we can all relate to. Anna Bruce of FFR said: “Debates around food sustainability are taking a grip alongside climate change, and educational institutions are starting to include relevant studies in the curriculum. This is an opportune moment to take a creative look at our food, where it started and what it is now.”
FIRST FOOD is an artist-led non-profit that aims to open up the debate about food through art. Artists are drawn from a rich variety of backgrounds, disciplines and levels of experience. This eclecticism blows fresh air into the creative process and ensures a novel examination of food and where it comes from: a subject the world once forgot but is now increasingly obsessing about.
The artists, who all answered an open call, included painter Max Ortiz Mejia, printmaker Yoshi Dominguez and scientist Susana Cuevas. Susanna has created visual effects through photography and microscopy, while two further artists, Chucho Caza and Victor Nicolas have focused on Britain’s food culture: Victor by exploring British folklore through the theme of barley and Chuchoby, at the other end of the scale, documenting the cosmopolitan hubbub of London’s contemporary food culture.