The Politics and Pleasures of Food

Arts Management

The Politics and Pleasures of Food

20th Studioprogram of ACC Galerie and the City of Weimar

Selected Artists: Diego Castro, The Errands Group (Ilan Manouach, Zafos Xagoraris, Sofia Dona, Alexia Sarantopoulou, Maria Tsigara, Dimitris Theodoropoulos, Nina Pappa und Giorgos Koufakis) and Evy Schubert

Jury: Henry Meyric Hughes (curator and art historic), Rémy Markowitsch (artist) and Rafram Chaddad (artist).

More than anything else, feeding ourselves determines our lives. As an unavoidable basic need, it confronts us every day with our naked existence. However, aside from the basic maintenance of our vital functions, food contributes decisively to our general well-being. Satiation and pleasure have not only a physiological, but also a psychological and social-societal dimension.

Whether health crazes or eating disorders, fast food or fusion cuisine, asceticism or stress-eating, social dining or social business, take-away or home delivery, from bare necessity to pure pleasure to excess — the spectrum is limitless: it is about the freedom to design one’s diet, as well as the internal and external compulsions of this basic aspect of existence.

As a part of every human culture (and religion), the “politics and pleasures of food” are an expression of ideologies and societal relations, the level of development or decay of a civilization. Their potential as a community builder and group event, as well as their function in social distinction (the king dines differently from the beggar) are part of evolution. You are what you eat, and thus what and how we feed ourselves not only depends on prevailing conditions, but also has an effect on them.

In privileged regions, the “mobilization” of food from around the world leads to an unprecedented range of culinary action. It creates a global menu that permits the choice between haute cuisine and slow food, veganism and vegetarianism, ecological and organic fetishism and may be reflected in more deliberate and healthier food choices. 

In developing and emerging countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America, one billion people are starving — a seventh of the world population. Yearly, 8.8 million people, primarily children, die of hunger — one death every 3 seconds. Even in the world’s top economy, the USA, 10 million people go hungry or, as it is officially known, have “very low food security”.

But the earth does not lack food: it simply does not reach those who need it. Global warming, climate fluctuations, drought, flood, armed conflicts, corruption, poor government, growing world population, the bio-fuel boom, changing consumption behaviors of the new middle class in China and India and the farm subsidy politics of, for example, the EU aggravate the situation. In the course of the monopolization of resources by multinational concerns, the geopolitical tug of war for regions with raw material continues. Staple foods become commodities; the common property of traditional agrarian cultures becomes patented private property. The wars of the 21st century will be waged over water and rice, corn or soy, over fishing rights for the oceans and the wheat fields of Africa. But also food safety scandals, bio-piracy and genetically modified food shatter the idea that “food is just food” as we always knew it. How do consumers of the 21st century feel and think about what they eat and drink?

The International Studio Program of the ACC Galerie and the City of Weimar was founded in 1994 and is open to artist worldwide and without age restriction. The City of Weimar pursues the following aims in its role as an initiator and partner of the International Studio Program: To combine financial support for artists with the presentation of contemporary art in the urban realm, to serve as a forum for artists and as a catalyst for encounter between them and to gain international recognition for the resulting activities. By these means, international cultural exchange is to be promoted and prejudices eliminated. The support provided includes the provision of a combination artist’s studio/apartment in the Municipal Studio Building – one of the oldest buildings of its kind in Germany – and by financing the monthly stipend of 1000€.