Our latest project is live at the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art (MMOCA). RECIPE BOX celebrates the humble containers many of us cram full of index cards, notes, and clippings. Beyond this sometimes nostalgic reflection, the project celebrates as well the food knowledges and cultures that are lost, displaced, undervalued, as well as the kinds of food know-how that are in daily use but not yet committed to a share-able form.
The impulse for the project was a response to the emotion-laden, chaotic pile of recipe cards that Laurie Beth and Michael inherited from two mothers and four grandmothers.
At the museum, visitors can sort through our pile (we’ve scanned everything), contribute a handwritten recipe of their own, and take home a papercraft recipe box to store their cooking knowledge.Continue reading
We’ve been developing for some time an interest in “generosity” as a possible theme for a series of works. Just as the foodways series was organized around looking at food not just as an element of our projects but as an explicit area of inquiry, we’d like to look at generosity as intention, gesture, effect, culture.
But once we’d settled on the inquiry, we found ourselves short of answers to the question “what is a work of art about generosity?” We knew what it meant to be generous within our work but were less sure how to thematize it. So we pitched the idea for a thematic issue to Performance Research, an awesome journal founded by Richard Gough, in which we’ve published individually and collaboratively several times before. We hoped editing “On Generosity” would teach us a lot about this topic, by organizing thinking from scholars and artists around the world.
We’re very proud of the work we did on this and so grateful to the journal staff and the fantastic contributors. You can see the contents and read our introduction here. If you’d like to read the whole issue (table of contents reproduced below) and don’t have access through a library affiliation, please write to us. We also have some print copies available.
From noon to 3 PM, homemade soup, sourdough rolls and artisanal apple cider were served nearby at Maiaspace, a former church owned by Chele Isaac and John Neis.
In advance of the event, Gustafson worked for two-months creating the bowls at the Dongzhu Pottery Studio.
Over the same period of time, Laurie Beth Clark and Michael Peterson promoted the event to market vendors. We talked several times with each of roughly 200 different vendors starting in late September. On alternate weekends, we provided them with successively more detailed information in a series of flyers.
On Friday 19 October, we prepared 200 servings (12 gallons) of butternut squash soup using squash we had grown ourselves and 200 rolls using sourdough that Spatula&Barcode have been cultivating since 2015. We were aided in this process by Alex Donnelly, Grant Gustafson, Kel Mur (pictured below), Lars Johnson, Libby LaDue, Katelyn Palesek, and Zoe Klein.
On the day of the event, weather seemed fine as we were distributing the bowls. But from 9 AM to noon, the market was inundated with gale force winds, hail, snow, sleet, and rain. By ten AM, the square was nearly emptied of vendors most of whom were too wet and cold to stick around until noon. Nevertheless, seventy of the hardiest did come to eat soup with us!
Our team for distribution day was Alex Donnelly (pictured below), Chele Isaac (picture above), Maryam Ladoni (photographer extraordinaire), John Nies, and Michelle Miller (picture below).
Because many vendors chose not to come into town at all on the 20th due to the volatile weather, Clark and Peterson returned to the market with the remaining bowls and gifted them to vendors who had not yet received them. (Unfortunately, it was not possible to re-stage the soup party).
This followup process allowed us to talk with almost everyone on the square, many of whom expressed their enthusiasm for the event and/or their regrets at not being able to attend. We were asked repeatedly whether we planned to make this an annual event. In addition to their pleasure at being feted, the farmers mentioned that opportunities to socialize with one another were few and far between.
We’ve been shopping at the Dane County Farmers Market for more than 30 years. We really like the idea of feeding farmers, and the image of the shared bowls, but mostly we like celebrating the people who make this unique market so special. This project is a kind of sequel to Feeding Farmers, our 2016 Foodways project in which we recruited artists to prepare bespoke meals for vendors at the Dane County Farmers Market.
We were inspired to create Soup:Bowl by a civic event we attended with Alicia Rios in 2016 in Valdepeñas, Spain, where the entire town sat down at the end of a festival and ate stew from bowls that commemorated the event.
The City of Madison supported the production of the hand-made bowls through through Blink!, the Madison Arts Commission’s temporary public art program.
We are particularly grateful to Sarah Elliott of the Dane County Farmers Market for her enthusiasm and support throughout the planning and implementation of Soup:Bowl.
We’re preparing a publication about the Foodways series, and we are updating our documentation online to accompany that. We’ll use this post to archive the edited collection of fantastic, pithy, witty, insightful, and fun observations that folks in Melbourne shared with us during the Foodways project there. We’ll update with a full listing soon, but here are a few of our favorites.
Any food in a tourist area is pretty much crap–inauthentic and overpriced.
Australians believe in good food, good wine, and surfing.
Climate change makes me change my assumptions about the abundance of food.
Coffee is the ritual we all connect with. You can’t really say, let’s catch up for mineral water. It’s not a cozy thing.
Day eating culture is bigger than night.
Even in a dorm room, you’d have a toaster and a kettle.
Every night there’s a special on somewhere: Parma Night, Steak Night.
Everyone’s just happy because they’re having brunch.
Healthfood culture and junk food culture exist side by side here—donuts and burgers and also super-clean stuff—the same people.
I plan my day around where I will get my coffee.
In Melbourne, if a restaurant is not good, it doesn’t last.
Old school pubs are more kid friendly.
One of the most critical moments in my life is going to my daughter’s house and seeing on the table things that I had cooked for her as a child.
On days when I’m really missing mum I’ll cook her food.
To eat for free, attach a tin can to a long stick and wander through the alleys. If fruit is over the fence, you are allowed to take it.
We’re not big into chains. Starbucks failed here. Our coffee culture is quite bespoke.
Wine and food rules are not like in Europe. There’s lots of freedom of expression.
What does ‘modern Australian’ mean? It’s fusion.
We first developed “Letterpress Cookies” as part of our participation in the 2016 Wisconsin Book Festival (during our Community Research Kitchen residency at The Bubbler), where we printed the entire alphabet and available punctuation. Not surprisingly, our favorite was the ampersand. We bought another set of presses to have a second “&” when we planned “Rage Grief Comfort &” for the Municipal show. Since then we’ve incorporated Ampersand Cookies into a lot of activist-oriented activities and events, giving them away at events like the women’s march and bringing them to talks and functions.
This recipe is different every time we make them. The first base recipe had cream as well as butter, and sometimes we’ve incorporated a bit of “The Bubbler”, as we now call our Foodways sourdough. The cookies come out not too sweet, and we’ve yet to feel we over-did either the anise or the cloves.
Beat: 1# butter and 450gr sugar
Mix and add: 3 eggs (about 150gr), 50gr olive oil, 10gr anise extract
Mix and mix in: 100gr rye flour, 700 gr APF, 20gr sea salt, 5gr baking powder, 5gr ground cloves
Wrap and chill: at least an hour, up to a day
roll out to 1/4″
press ampersands deeply with floured press
cut between the cookies–they usually don’t fuze too much while baking but that depends on how loose the dough is
bake at 400F for 15-20 minutes, depending–it’s usually good to rotate the pans partway through
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. Continue reading