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Edible Art: The Social Function and Aspects of Food in Contemporary Art

Rhee Jieun 1

1명지대학교

Accredited

ABSTRACT

This paper briefly charts the history of food as part of the 20th-century modern and contemporary art and explores ways in which food functions in the realms of visual art. From Russian Constructivists of the early 20th century to the recent practices of Relational Aesthetics, food has taken a small yet distinctively important part in the development of modern art. In an attempt to challenge the hegemony of vision in the experience of spectators,the artists including Daniel Spoerri, Ben Vautier, Alison Knowles, Allen Rupperberg,Tom Marioni, Gordon Matta-Clark, Ben Kinmont, and Rirkrit Tiravanija propose as the important locale of artistic experience an extending field of perception brought on by the ritual of eating. Far from being a practice of quiet appreciation, eating for these artists serves as a nexus of shared talks and experiences among the viewers, and eventually shifts the focus of art appreciation from the object-oriented, private experience to the multiple relation-oriented, collective experience. In this regard, this paper examines this communal spectatorship in their works within the framework of Nicolas Bourriaud’s “Relational aesthetics”. Bourriaud argues that relational aesthetics is defined by the way in which art works represent, produce, and promote interpersonal relations between viewers. Released from the solitary confines of artistic experience, relational aesthetics awakens us into a festive mode of being, a mode that Bourriaud calls ‘conviviality’ in communicating and sharing. Likewise, the museum is no longer subject to the notion of “white cube” as it lends itself to a site of mutual experiencing and sharing. Food in art is at the center of this new experience.

Citation status

* References for papers published after 2022 are currently being built.