During ‘Harvest: Art, Film and Food’, GOMA Talks explores food, its production, consumption, symbolism, and role in contemporary life and continues its partnership with national broadcaster ABC Radio National (RN). We asked Sarah Kanowski about her topic… food, art and life before hosting on Thursday 17 July. Our last GOMA Talks ‘Politics of food’ is with Paul Barclay (Big Ideas) on 31 July.
From the austerely beautiful still lifes of seventeenth-century Spanish painter Juan Sánchez Cotán, evoking international trade and the dawn of colonialism through the inclusion of food, flowers and spices, to the contemporary public art projects of Los Angeles-based collective Fallen Fruit, artists have made deep and provocative responses to the aesthetics, ethics and politics of food.
Food is essential to life but culture imagines the nature of that relationship in millions of ways. In the First World, we’ve moved from scarcity to excess, from hunger to hypertension, and our relationship to the land on which food is grown has changed dramatically. Food is one of the many ways we fashion an identity and flex our consumer muscle. We’re surrounded by the competing lures of fast versus slow food, paleo versus gastro-porn. It sometimes seems that food has replaced religion and politics as the territories on which we contest class, status and value.
The artworks brought together in ‘Harvest’ invite us to rethink how we look at food, how we talk about it, as well as how we grow and eat it. Contemporary Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists such as Emily Kame Kngwarreye, who trace an ongoing connection between food, country and cultural knowledge, are shown alongside explorations of the global food trade, labour market, and considerations of ecology in food production. Whether it is through our own social history, culture or community, our relationship with food has a role to play in shaping cultural identities.