The act of cooking in the milieu of twenty-first century capitalism has emerged as a site of conspicuous contradictions, as this everyday necessity has been ruthlessly commercialized, and thereby exceptionalized. We regard the celebrity chefs of reality television with adulation, while casually identifying ourselves, even in the absence of a connoisseur’s knowledge, as “foodies.” Every next week we convince ourselves of the heights of health that some old-yet-new, essential “superfood” will permit us to scale, while happily heaving money at the purveyors of an unebbing tide of overpriced artisanal preserves and “third wave” coffees. Everywhere, we are pressed to view food and drink as a ceaseless procession of elevated experiences and matchless moments. Considering that for most of its history the practice of food preparation has sooner been associated with drudgery than celebrity, it is difficult to reconcile something so everyday with today’s gastronomic game show. Artists, curators and critics, however, will quickly recognize what has happened to cooking as being the same as what, in many ways, has happened to art.
Against this social backdrop, articule hosts Everyday Cooking, Cooking Every Day, a research residency designed by Zoë Chan and Mark Clintberg to examine cooking in a manner that proceeds not from its exceptionalism but from its everydayness. Chan, a curator and art historian, and Clintberg, an artist who works in art history and curates exhibitions, found themselves drawn together by their common background in curation and the practice and history of art, as well as by a shared interest in food and cooking. Together, the two shaped the residency concept as a way to create a bridge between these concerns. Keeping at arm’s length the art world’s obsession with originality and newness, Chan and Clintberg resolved to explore the practice of food preparation in its quotidian fullness, hoping potentially to model new approaches to art and curation.
Recontextualizing everyday activities like grocery shopping and the preparation of meals as research methods, Chan and Clintberg will combine these activities with person-to-person interviews, blogging, poster making and other activities. They will also study various texts, cookbooks, films, blogs and memoirs about food and cooking, and will prepare meals for a series of guests, using dinner (and lunch and tea) parties, including virtual ones, as spaces in which to open discussion about notions of hospitality and sociability, tradition and ritual, taste and pleasure, social class and privilege, and food security and scarcity. Their research activities will point toward a central question: Can everyday cooking be an anchor point for us, from which we may draw lessons we can apply more broadly to art and culture? The residency will culminate with a presentation, at the gallery, of the results of Chan and Clintberg’s research.
Born in Winnipeg and based in Montreal, Edwin Janzen’s visual art practice extends across artistic disciplines to examine how we define ourselves through fantasies about technology. Edwin is also a contact writer and editor, and sits on articule’s board of directors.