When Spatula&Barcode were invited to participate in the Municipal show, we knew immediately that we wanted to create a project about responses to the election. The resulting project, “Rage Grief Comfort &” used simple foods to allow the public to express emotions and then asked the question, besides being angry and fearful, what else can we do.A bit of context about the exhibition. Staged for one day in a soon-to-be-remodeled city building, Municipal offered 100 artists the chance to create site-specific installations that were available to the public for one day only. 2,700 people walked through the front doors in spite of the raging snow storm.
You can read more about it at these links:
Our project for Municipal “Rage Grief Comfort &” invited public participation at four stations. At the first, spectators had the opportunity to throw ripe tomatoes at the wall.
It turns out that this is actually a very difficult gesture to photograph. Here are some images that do not do justice to the carnivalesque scene, the satisfying thud, or the messy residue.
The second station provided an opportunity to cut onions and cry. The third station asked participants to peel potatoes which we then cooked, mashed, and served back to them with caramelized onions.
Thanks to Leslee, Helen, Marin, Tracy, Jeff, Dijana, and Sigrid who helped us supervise the sharp knives amidst the chaos of 2700 spectators that came to the one day show (in the midst of a blizzard).
Finally, audience members were invited consume one (or more) of the 1600 sugar cookies with an ampersand letter-pressed into them that were baked by Michael with the help of Andrew Salyer.
We think of the “&” as a reference to all the other work we are all already doing, making commitments to do, and will have to do when our needs for social justice cannot be realized through existing institutions.
In spite of the fact that Michael could be seen throughout the day processing the tomatoes for sauce, sauteing the onion boiling and mashing potatoes, more than half of the spectators worried that we were wasting the food. It’s interesting that this concern is not generally extended to all works of art, many of which use toxic materials and generate huge quantities of often non-recyclable waste.
Of course, those of you that know our work would never imagine that we could conceive of a project without an edible outcome. The tomatoes were all cooked down overnight into a (simmered rage) sauce and served the following day to the 99 other artists participating in the show (and their helpers in removing works from the show) along with a carmelized onion sourdough focaccia. Also on offer at the de-install were the remaining mashed potatoes with a vegetarian gravy.
We can’t sent you an ampersand cookie anymore (they were all consumed in one day) but we do have a stockpile of ampersand charms. If you’d like to add one to your to your safety pin, we can provide you with a metal “&”charm. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org.