Touching food and social relations through art

“Since Eve ate apples, much depends on dinner” Byron wrote. Food, both solid and liquid, is making the difference between life and death. For all the interest in and appreciation of ‘landscape’ and ‘nature’ we are most intimately connected to nature through the integration of nature in ourselves; our daily intake of food. However, there can be quite a disparity between care for nature and with what care we fill the supermarket basket. The availability of an abundance of food is such a taken for granted fact of life that we know less and less what food actually is.

“The extent to which we take everyday objects for granted is the precise extent to which they govern and inform our lives” Margaret Visser says.

The couch, the fridge, the supermarket and the fork are making us to who we are and simultaneously prevent us from being different. It is artists, among others, who can address that which has become invisible by its omnipresence.

An interesting art project is currently taking place in Smalle Ee, a tiny little place in the northern province of Friesland. Last week I visited Matthew Mazzotta, an artist from the US who is living in the P.A.I.R installation of the Peergroup for two months. Here, he is building his tea house where he will make tea from locally collected plants and from energy which he generates from methane of locally collected manure. Through this he uncovers knowledge about local food foraging and edible plants.

His project is a social intervention. In every aspect of his project he purposely relies on local knowledge and help of the local community. Since the beginning of March many people have become involved in one way or another. Curiosity to that weird thing he is building, helping out such as the ‘rietdekker’ did and -above all – people come to share. Not least through meals. With a few exceptions he had dinner with local people each night. Dinner is, after all, a matter of life and death. See what he is doing through this link, partly in Frisian and partly in English.

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