Food is a gateway to the world, a peep hole to the past and a window to ever-evolving cultural scenarios. At the Kitchen Table, an ongoing exhibition at 1ShantiRoad, traces the powerful influence the culinary world exerts.
“We started looking at how art can exist in multiple forms and formats, and began putting together artworks that dealt with food in different ways — food products based out of algae, family histories, interventions into existing commercial establishments and more,” says Nihaal Faizal of Reliable Copy who curated the show with Sarasija Subramanian.
1ShantiRoad founded by artist Suresh Jayararam is one of Bengaluru’s oldest non-profit residency and arts program. As a space that has welcomed creative minds to the city over the years, the many visitors to 1ShantiRoad have contributed to the community kitchen on the premises. The dishes and recipes they shared have been collated into the 1ShantiRoad Cookbook , with over 70 contributions from artists and other kindred spirits, and is on display at the exhibition too.
Supported by India Foundation for the Arts, the exhibition includes photographs, novels, cookbooks, videos and more, each detailing a facet of human progression, or regression. The wide spectrum of art from different parts of the world encompasses the familiar and light-hearted as well as the understated and cryptic. Straight forward cookbooks and those inspired by children’s literature such as Josh Sutton’s ' Five Go Feasting ' based on Enid Blyton’s Famous Five series and Roald Dahl’s ' Revolting Recipes ' share space with the works of artist Rasheed Araeen whose UK-based restaurant is an extension of his art, and others such as Lantian Xie and David Robbins.
A darker, disturbing side is also presented: preparing, presenting and partaking of food as a means of power play. “In the Middle Ages kings would serve all manner of disgusting meals to shock and scare guests, flaunting their control over them. Drawing from this, American artist Candice Lin put together a performance and a feast in 2014, titled Subtleties and Warnings. She sent us her documentation of the event and photographs from the event for At The Kitchen Table,” says Sarasija.
Diametrically opposite views of a Japanese POW who was well fed by the Americans versus that of an Italian prisoner who was starved by German captors, are a stark reminder of the socio-political impact of food on culture.
There are audio-visual elements to the exhibition too. Videos by artists Pushpamala N and Gavati take a dig at illusionary standards set by society, showing diverse tastes in a single home and recipes made without ‘taboo’ ingredients, while Carolyn Lazard’s entry is a reminder for the inclusion of the differently abled within society’s framework.
At the Kitchen Table is on till October 5, 1Shantiroad Gallery, Bengaluru.