When I first heard about the performance from artists Anne Duk Hee Jordan and Shira Wachsmann for Berlin Food Art Week I was a bit puzzled: a banquet (or feast) with Volksküche (people’s food). Is that art?
The food is going to be served on a 6-meter long wooden table in the middle of Senefelderstrasse, for the BFAW opening this Friday.
“We created this food table, but only with basic food… With potatoes, bread, salt and butter and that’s it. And then people are invited to come to sit and to share the really basic food. It’s supposed to be the antithesis to these art-world banquets.
“We also want to write something on the table: ‘Today you may be the host, but tomorrow you might be the guest in need of hospitality yourself.’”
Anne is a Korean/German artist with many interests. From occupational therapist to rescue diver, she’s been around the world much more than many of us could even dream of.
“It’s really important to meet other people and expand yourself. It’s important to really have an open mind, to work in different areas. So you don’t stop developing yourself.”
And Shira Wachsmann, her co-creator in this particular performance, also comes from a very diverse background – being born in Tel Aviv and have studied Philosophy at the Open University in Israel and later on finishing her education at Weissenße School of Art in Berlin.
“I focus on the notion of “land,” in both meanings: land as material, as soil, and land as a place, as territory; land as natural and cultural, political and historical.”
The duo collaborates from time to time, and another similar work from them was the one they made for the Neue NationalGallery, entitled Unbordered – a performance addressing exactly these themes: land, history and food.
For this artwork, Anne and Shira decorated the table with objects donated by different museums, like German memorial plates from the 19th century, law books from the Nazi regime, and German philosophy and literature, as well as Turkish and Palestinian objects, and even a hand grenade. And, in the midst of all this, very expensive food.
Anne: “We put the food very nicely next to these historical artifacts, and people ate their own history. They were part of the performance without even realizing it.”
Following the same line of thinking, but now addressing other questions relating to our actual society, the artists want to bring a deeper sense of sympathy, and maybe even humanity, through the simple act of sharing simple food.
Anne: “Society in general is eating us up – I particularly feel sometimes overwhelmed. And art is so much the same as food, so it’s the same for me. To cook is the same as to create.”
Shira: “The people who will join this dinner will share the food with each other, which will create an interaction between them, even if they never met before. Each person that will pass randomly on the street will be invited to sit at the table and eat with us. It is an act which brings the social encounter out on the road. Food for all.”
Creating a kind of consciousness together, come and experience one of the most basic exchanges that we can have with one another. Why not expand your horizons when it comes to art and food?
Images: reproduction Der Tagesspiegel and website Anne Duk Hee.