Food is a basic need, one of the most essential requirements for life. We eat on workdays and on holidays; food plays a part in the narrative of our everyday rituals and is the protagonist in several religious and secular ceremonies. It evokes a complex system of symbols and metaphors.
Our metabolism is never at rest; digestion is under way while you are reading these lines. We eat from birth to death; in the morning, at noon, and in the evening; in our joy and in our sorrow. We eat alone and in company, slowly and in haste, munching lazily or with vigour, chomping, gobbling, devouring. We consume in restaurants, bistros, markets, pubs ? from plastic containers or with silver cutlery. Be it cooked or raw, meat or vegetable, sweet, savoury, bitter, sour, spicy, or smoked, local or exotic ? we eat it all.
Our food is planted, watered, nursed, reaped, harvested, washed, chopped,
kneaded, salted, peppered, spiced, seared, simmered, boiled. We pour it out, stuff it, top it up, covet it ? often its pure sight can make our mouths water. We take a bite and it becomes a part of our bodies: chewed, swallowed, digested, and defecated. We gain and lose weight as we obey our appetite, the labyrinthine expectations around eating, or the innumerable sanctions regulating the body.
Beyond the biological reality and its primary function of relieving hunger, food is a complex social phenomenon: it is the alpha and omega of numerous social, cultural, economic, political, and ecological processes. What and how we produce and consume is strongly determined by structures of power. Geographical, financial, medical, religious, philosophical, and identity concerns are all present in our relationship to food.
Ideally, food is the source of joy and sensual pleasure. Its consumption is not a mere daily habit, but a communal event that can provide an opportunity for social interaction and enhance social cohesion on the micro level. Diet is a key component of personal, community, or national identity: consuming food or drink may be a form of practicing one’s cultural identity, while the refusal to eat can be a political act. Gastronomic heritage and cooking traditions are passed on from one generation to another not only through recipes and culinary crafts, but also through microorganisms.
Thinking about the future of producing and consuming our food is an urgent task: according to predictions, the Earth’s population will increase by almost 2 billion by 2050, further deepening the gap and tension between famine and overconsumption. Current estimates anticipate that if we were to keep up with the consuming habits of an expanding population, we will have to up our food production by 50% in the next 30 years.
FAO prognosticates that although the meat industry is one of the most polluting sectors in terms of its CO 2 and methane emissions, meat consumption will increase in numerous countries over the next decades. Our unsustainable consumption habits are closely connected to alarming climate change and other related tendencies, such as the water crisis, overfishing, the deterioration of soil, economic models preferring monoculture over biodiverse farming, and a calamitous waste management system.
In line with the perspectives outlined above, Santopalato
focuses not so much on the aesthetic or gastronomic aspects of our diet, but rather examines nutrition, eating, food production, and feeding in their social contexts. The exhibition also presents a few possible, speculative scripts about the future of eating and growing food, because our current unsustainable consumption patterns necessitate the emergence of novel, even seemingly radical alternatives.
The exhibition takes place at two different locations: works presented in the Studio Gallery primarily focus on the ecological aspect of food and eating, while in the Korean Cultural Center’s exhibition space, the connection between food and cultural identity will be on the menu.
The exhibition can be visited for free, however, a symbolic contribution would be highly appreciated: during the exhibition, we are collecting non-perishable food items for Food Not Bombs Budapest. Therefore we would like to encourage our guests to bring along canned vegetables, a packet of pasta, rice, lentils, spices or anything they can offer. The goods can be placed in a box in the exhibition space and will be donated to Food Not Bombs Budapest, a grassroots organization of volunteers who are distributing warm vegan and vegetarian meals among those in need.
Participants: Antal Balázs, Bartha Gabó, Fajgerné Dudás Andrea, Hódi Csilla, Szabó Eszter Ágnes, Sz.A.F. (Mécs Miklós és Fischer Judit), Isaac Monté, Daniel Parnitzke, Marie Caye & Arvid Jense, Melanie Bonajo (screening)