Since the 1930s, numerous artists have used the simple act of sharing food and drink to advance aesthetic goals and to foster critical engagement with the culture of their moment. These artist-orchestrated meals can offer a radical form of hospitality that punctures everyday experience, using the meal as a means to shift perceptions and spark encounters that aren’t always possible in a fast-moving and segmented society.
Feast surveys this practice for the first time, presenting the work of more than thirty artists and artist groups who have transformed the shared meal into a compelling artistic medium. The exhibition examines the history of the artist-orchestrated meal, assessing its roots in early-twentieth century European avant-garde art, its development over the past decades within Western art, and its current global ubiquity. Through a presentation within the Smart Museum and new commissions in public spaces, the exhibition introduces new artists and contextualizes their work in relation to other influential artists, from the Italian Futurists and Gordon Matta-Clark to Marina Abramović and Rirkrit Tiravanija. Feast addresses the radical hospitality embodied by these artists and the social, commercial, and political structures that surround the experience of eating together.
Stephanie Smith is the curator of Feast. She joined the Smart Museum as associate curator in 1999 and was named deputy director and chief curator in 2010. She is an affiliate member of the University of Chicago’s Department of Visual Arts and a contributing editor to the journal Afterall. She has held curatorial positions at Rice University, where she earned her M.A. in art history, and the Contemporary Arts Museum, Houston. For her ambitious contemporary exhibitions such as Beyond Green (2005) and Heartland (2009), Smith has been named one of the most visionary curators in Chicago.
This talk was part of the Greater Midwest Foodways Alliance‘s fifth annual symposium, “Road Food: Exploring the Midwest One Bite at a Time.” Other events from this symposium recorded by Chicago Amplified—listed in the order they were presented—are as follows:
Marked for Life: My Travels on Route 66 in ‘53, with Terri Ryburn
State Fair Heirloom Recipe Contest, with Catherine Lambrecht
Mobile Food in 19th-Century Chicago, with Peter Engler
Food Trucks: Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow, with Louisa Chu
Will Success Spoil Regional Food?, with Michael Stern
The Drive-In Restaurant: Before and After the Dawn of Fast Food, Food Theater, with Mary Bergin
A Gopher Turned Badger Eats Hoosier, and Vice Versa: Midwestern Culinary Traditions in the Small-Town Cafe, with Joanne Stuttgen
What Happened to Horseshoes?, with Julianne Glatz
Pies on the Road, with Shirley Cherkasky
Ethnographic Food Writing, or How I Ate My Way Across Wisconsin and Lived to Tell About It, with Joanne Stuttgen
Culinary Tourism in the Land of Meat and Potatoes and Green Bean Casserole, with Lucy M. Long
Summer Vacations in Northern Wisconsin, with Kelly Sears
Born to be Mild: Oral Histories and Pathways of the Midwest Supper Club, with Dave Hoekstra
Farmers Markets of the Heartland, the Ultimate Road Trip, with Janine MacLachlan
On the Shawnee Hills Wine Trail, with Clara Orban
Remarks by Marilyn Wilkinson of the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board
Feast: Radical Hospitality in Contemporary Art Curator-Led Tour