Tag: performance

Flying Buffet: Sonja Alhaüser’s Fantastic Food Event

Flying Buffet: Sonja Alhaüser’s Fantastic Food Event

Feast: Radical Hospitality in Contemporary Art was an exhibition that focused on the act of sharing food and drink in order “to advance aesthetic goals and to foster critical engagement with the culture of their moment.”  The show premiered at the Smart Museum of Art at the University of Chicago, and presented more than 30 artists works that explored the shared meal as an artistic medium. Feast featured gallery works, and also many participatory projects, meals, and performances.  I recently read about the show again, since it recently traveled to The Blaffer Art Museum at the University of Houston.

One of the artists in the show includes German artist Sonja Sonja Alhaüser, who created a “catering performance” for the show when it was at the SMART Museum.  The piece, entitled Flying Buffet, had servers wearing silver outfits and wearing white wigs who moved through the space like a  “flying buffet”, serving food.  “The piece moved through the lobby and had lots of movement, like flying,” the artist says in the online video created by the Smart Museum.

The performers would carry trays of food that included skewers of fruit, cheese with Marzipan figures; small canopies with signature drawings posted on toothpicks, and large sculptural elements. On the trays, and also on tables were angels, animals such as fish and cows, and figures out created out of margarine, which gave the food a baroque look, and pushed the edge of buffet food.

The artist says about the piece, “All together it is a big picture, or a landscape of food.  All who want to come and eat are able to eat.  I wanted to have all kinds of foods:  meat, bread, cheese, fruit and others, so that all foods are in the buffet.”

Her planning for the process involved creating large recipe drawings, which were large wall-sized detailed sketches made in pencil and watercolor.  The drawings featured images of ingredients, and also sketches of the sculptural elements, and the overall piece.  The recipe drawings look fantastic, but when you see the video of the piece, you realize that the artist was able to realize her vision.  The flying buffet comes alive.

The video and images of the piece can be seen in the Flying Buffet Vimeo video.  Make sure you don’t want it hungry.

Image Source and Links:

Flying Buffet Vimeo video.

Feast Exhibition-  Smart Museum

Sonja alhaeuser – Website


Feast Exhibition at the  Blaffer Museum, Houston, TX 


Identical Lunch:  Food + Performance by Alison Knowles

Identical Lunch: Food + Performance by Alison Knowles

Ever eat a tuna fish sandwich on wheat toast with butter and lettuce, no mayo, and a cup of soup or glass of buttermilk?  Alison Knowles, conceived of the piece the Identical Lunch in the 1960s. when a friend and fellow Fluxus artist Philip Corner observed that she ate the same lunch every day at a local diner  This daily ritual became a performance where she invited friends to try the same lunch and to write about their experiences.

Knowles wrote a score for the piece, which reads, “The Identical Lunch: a tunafish sandwich on wheat toast with lettuce and butter, no mayo, and a large glass of buttermilk or a cup of soup was and is eaten many days of each week at the same place and at about the same time.”  The piece explores how no object is identical to itself within the context of the human experience.  Years later, the project has evolved to have communal events where groups of people eat the lunch, and people generate photographs and writings about the experience.

At MoMA, the Identical Lunch event was done in 2011 with visitors eating the Identical Lunch with Knowles.   More recently, the piece was part of the exhibition Feast at the SMART Museum of Art at the University of Chicago.  Here it was featured in an installation where several times a week, the security supervisor Paul Bryan puts out a real glass of buttermilk and a tunafish sandwich prepared fresh by a local caterer, according to the specifications of Knowles’ score. The lunch is on display and age (and most likely start to mold and smell)  until a few days later Paul replaces them again.  The museum’s café has the Identical Lunch available for purchase, and visitors  are invited to perform the score and eat lunch.

A video about the Identical Lunch is online, and by watching it – you  might even get inspired to eat a tuna sandwich.. and maybe a glass of buttermillk.


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Food as Art:  Caroline Hobkinson and Experimental Dining

Food as Art: Caroline Hobkinson and Experimental Dining

Caroline Hobkinson creates experimental dining experiences in both gallery, public and private spaces. She works with food as an artistic medium and explores both the ritual and spectacle of eating.  In her projects, she orchestrates fully immersive multisensory dining experiences and food performances where the diners cease to be diners but become performers in a culinary ritual.

In her works smell, culinary instruments, flavors and textures, and manners that we use are all used to create unique experiences.  On her site she writes, “How we eat- the context and emotion has the strongest impact on how we perceive taste. Whether its suspended from the ceiling or whether we eat with alternative dining instruments like spearing our food with a tree branch, the long prepared Christmas feast, the birthday cake…  Eating food is the most intimate way to interact with our environment.”

Her projects are one time events, and have been done in gallery, public, and private spaces.  She uses food as an artistic medium, and with food as performance and social commentary.  Some of her favorite “ingredients” include fishing wire, helium, and liquid nitrogen.  She had created experimental feasts for the Royal Academy, Salone Milano, the Barbican, Gwangju Biennale, and other places.

On her site, Stirring with Knives, you can check out some of her projects.  One recent project called LOOK. LISTEN.  SMELL. TOUCH.  EAT! was a fully immersive sensory dining experience done by Hobkinson in collaboration with experimental psychologist Professor Charles Spence.

the feast consisted of various courses and activities which included a dish of eating warm caramelized goats cheese while blindfolded. At the same time, the scent of roast peppers and rosemary was released so diners would taste and smell pepper and rosemary.  For another course, people would eat super crunchy bread rolls while wearing earplugs, thus “internalizing” the crunch.

For another course, called Dialing the Taste, diners were given a number and were asked to press 1 for sweet, 2 for bitter. Specially composed sound frequencies were played to alter the taste experience..

The diners were given a menu that also had directions for the event.  This is printed on the website, and gives a full overview of the event and the courses.

The menu reads:


Insert your earplugs
Devour the freshly baked Bread roll without the use of your hands
Neuroscience has revealed a deep ‘cross modal’ connection, sounds can actually
change how we perceive food experiences.
Can you hear the taste?
Blindfold yourself
Your waiter will describe the dish to you
A Cracker bread is placed in front of you
The Smell of Roast Peppers and Fresh Rosemary is distributed
Remove your blindfold
Can you see the taste?
Salmon Sashimi accompanied by a Syringe filled with Ardbeg Ten Years Old.
Revered as the peatiest and smokiest Single Malt.
Inject the Salmon with the Whisky and eat it
Reconstruct the taste of Smoked Salmon with the Smokey Scent
Taste sensations are picked up chemically by our tongue.
The sensation of flavour is a combination of taste and smell. Most of flavour is smell.
Can you smell the taste?
Palate cleanser
HENDRICK’S Gin infused Cucumber Granita
Slurp with texture treated spoons with
Rose Water Crystals and Maldon Sea Salt
Saddle of Venison with foraged Prunes, Chanterelles and Wild Cherries
Grab the hand carved long tree branch and spear it
Can you feel the taste?
In collaboration with Condiment Junkie
Sonic cake pop
Please take your phone
Dial 0845 680 2419
Research at Oxford University proved that by changing a sound alone we can change a taste from Bitter to Sweet.
A low note brings out the Bitter, a high pitched sound brings out the Sweet flavour.
Can you dial a taste?

Images and updates of her projects can be seen on her website, Stirring with Knives.

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Cloud: A Fragrant Sculpture/Performance Project

Cloud: A Fragrant Sculpture/Performance Project

Diane Borsato is a visual artist working in performance, intervention, video, installation, and photography.   One of her recent projects that caught my eye recently was Cloud, a performance/sculpture project  done in Fall 2012 where she invited  24 participants to wear a highly fragrant gardenia boutonniere to the opening reception of a new commercial gallery.   During the opening, the volunteers mingled throughout the party, and the extravagant scent quickly overwhelmed the space.

The “cloud” of fragrance hung in the air for approximately one hour, after which time the performers and their flowers left the building.

Diane Borsato is currently Assistant Professor of Interdisciplinary Studio at the University of Guelph, and lives in Toronto.  Images and a list of participants of the performance can be seen on her artist website.

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Wireless Drones in the Landscape:  Liam Young and Tomorrow’s Thoughts Today

Wireless Drones in the Landscape: Liam Young and Tomorrow’s Thoughts Today

Tomorrows Thoughts Today is a London-based think tank started by Liam Young and Darryl Chen that explores topics such as urbanism, sustainability, utopia, urban planning, architecture, land use, and public space.

One recent interactive installation was called Electronic Countermeasures and was performed live at the GLOW Festival  in Eindhoven NL in the evening. The project is an aerial drone choreography performed by “drone pilots.” Using a local wifi network, the modified glowing “quadrocopters” did a choreographed in-air performance.

Visitors could interact with them by calling specific phone numbers. Dialing the number made the drones break formation, and approach.  The drones would light up, flicker and glow while becoming a pirate broadcast network or a mobile infrastructure that passers-by could interact with.  The more interaction, the more animated the drones would become.

About the project the artists write, “Today we are much closer to our virtual community than we are to our real neighbors. This death of distance has created new forms of city based around ephemeral digital connections rather than physical geography. In this context the Electronic Countermeasures explores the design and manufacture of a flock of interactive autonomous drones that form their own place specific, local, wifi community and pirate file sharing network.

Liam Young will be an Artist in Residence this Spring, and is the first recipient of San Francisco’s Headlands Art Centres ‘ new Architecture/Environment Artist in Residence award.    Young’s residency will begin with a series of sorties (or flights/attacks), through the surrounding landscape to survey the ecology and obsolete military technologies of the Marin Headlands.   Large-scale maps and drawings will be the basis for a series of small robotic installations and architectural prosthetics, which will be installed on site in the landscape.

The residency will conclude with a series choreographed aerial robotic drone performances titled ‘Birds of Prey’ launched from the abandoned Nike missile silo sites. Also part of the residency will be an intensive interdisciplinary design workshop and curated storytelling event in the surrounding woods.

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Tomorrows Thoughts Today



Tomorrows Thoughts Today – Liam Young and Darryl Chen

Electronic Countermeasures