"Food as Art as Sustainability Activism: The Politics of Agriculture and Food Systems in 21st Century Art Practices"
CAA National Conference, Chicago 2010
Panel: Artist Citizen: Catalysts, Collectives, and Utopias
Speakers: Jessica Ingram and Ryan Alexiev of Cause Collective, Sheryl Oring, and Jim Duignan of Stockyard Institute
Chairs: Joan Giroux and Amy M. Mooney, Columbia College Chicago
I pinpoint an invigorated flowering in current U.S. art practice, with global implications: food as site for discourse and action. In the context of sustainability imperatives and climate change concerns, public attention is drawn to the politics of food production and distribution. How do artists activate dialogue on the cultural politics of food and agriculture? My talk demonstrates how artists lead the way to action with vital, diverse strategies. Artists function as farmers and cultural critics; interrogate the origins and processes of the food we eat; and link to green movements, heralding a change in zeitgeist. The use of food in art practice deploys strategies of collaboration, dematerialization, social interaction, sustainability, urban agriculture, and cross-cultural cuisine. Bringing Victory Gardens to City Hall and worm bins to museum lobbies, transforming lawns into vegetable gardens and breaching cultural divides through shared recipes, artists catalyze expanded awareness of possibilities for arts civic engagement.