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Feast: Radical Hospitality In Contemporary Art

By Amy Cavanaugh in Food on Mar 24, 2012 7:00PM

Daniel Spoerri, Tableau piege, 17. Juni 1972, 1972, Assemblage on wood. Smart Museum of Art, The University of Chicago, Purchase, The Paul and Miriam Kirkley Fund for Acquisitions, 2011.40.
We attended the opening of the Smart Museum of Art's Feast: Radical Hospitality In Contemporary Art back in February, and while the crush of attendees made it impossible to take in the whole show, we still got a sense of what the artists were aiming to get across in their performance pieces.

Feast documents these performances, which include Alison Knowles' Identical Lunch, in which she consumed a tuna sandwich on wheat with lettuce and butter and a glass of buttermilk every day in the early 1960s, and Michael Rakowitz' Enemy Kitchen food truck, which offers Iraqi foods sold by American veterans of the Iraq war.

A standout is Tom Marioni's The Act of Drinking Beer With Friends Is The Highest Form of Art, which the artist has been holding across the country since 1970. In it, there's a bar, table, and beer bottles on the walls. The work is simple: a bartender passes out free bottles of beer to people who show up. It's an open bar night thrust into an art gallery, which makes us look at the act through new eyes—is the art simply the pieces in the room? Or what happens between the people who attend? Is it hundreds of separate one-night pieces? Or a single work that's been running for 42 years? On most visits to the gallery, you can simply see the room set up like a bar, but on April 5, May 3, and June 7, you can partake in free beer and fully experience the piece for yourself.

The idea for this show is really compelling, as eating involves so much more than simply putting food in your mouth. There are political and cultural implications to every single meal, and when we sit down to eat or drink with people, so much comes into play. Feast does an admirable job exploring these.

Feast is on display through June 10, and you can check out all the upcoming events associated with it here.