Food: it's both a universal need and an intensely personal, often divisive topic. We all consume food to survive, but our own feelings and ideas about eating and how it makes us feel can vary widely, from South Beach juice bar junkies to snooty, highbrow foodies to Paula Deen.
Food Cultura, one of the Knight Arts Challenge finalists, examines food as part of our cultural and social lives. And now, the organization hopes to launch a series of dinners in artists' homes and studios, creating a traveling "food culture museum" in Miami, to further the conversation.
Food Cultura asks the question of how the transformation of food into a product affects our dependence on food as well as how we prepare and eat it. The project explores the concept of food memory and how our thoughts about food reflect how we view nature and our surroundings.
Food Cultura began in the late 1960s by artist Antoni Miralda. Through ceremonial banquets, he explored the people's relationships to food, the symbolism of food and color, and how public space affects individuals. Montse Guillén became a collaborator in the 1980s and is now the director of the project. If Food Cultura is a Knight Arts Grant winner, Guillén says, the project will host more ceremonial dinners held in artists' studios and homes, with the event's dishes curated by the artists themselves.
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"People [can] come to the dinner [and] have the opportunity to see the studio, [talk to] the artists, eat the special food and...[take home] a special edition gift," she explained. Guillén also wants to create books based on each dinner, immortalizing the dishes -- which act as impromptu sculptures -- and the conversations that add to the ongoing project.
Guillén said that being a finalist is "fantastic" because of the opportunity to work with different Miami artists and invite different types of people to learn more about the artists and their work: "I very much like the Knight Foundation because they help you realize these projects. It's great."
FoodCultura and the project's history and mission statement can be viewed at foodcultura.org.