Friday, January 12, 2007

What are you eating? Final roundup

PixCell Ebi, 2006, Kohei Nawa; courtesy of SCAI/ Shiraishi Contemporary Art

Link here for an article that appeared in Los Angeles Times yesterday about Banquet. Only three more weeks left to see the exhibition before it closes!

We've received a mouth-watering batch of essays on an array of foods and specific memories associated with them: fresh popcorn on Saturday nights, fried chicken on Sundays, picking blueberries in late summer. Through the prism of these childhood favorites we get a portrait of the happy family that the author grew up in. All essays are on view in the corridor.

For this final round the prize goes to Carie Cable and her wonderful description of a family specialty: "Christmas Eve Spaghetti" (read essay click here).

Monday, December 11, 2006

What are eating? Roundup #2

Banquet: A Feast for the Senses has been up for a month now and the bulletin boards in the community feedback zone are beginning to look festive. Entries posted up include an essay titled "Neighborhood Bounty" by Robyn Hetrick, about fruit-picking and the continuity of lives on her Pasadena street, and a comment by a 5-year-old visitor stating, "I like to make pancake with mix." Her mother added that she and her daughter were able to laugh at the imagery in the exhibition which they found to be "accessible at multiple levels," and that they "loved the Aoshima (noodle) panel and sushi sculpture."

Although essays and short comments were the majority, we also received a recipe for "Chinese tea eggs" ( see here) as well as a magazine photo showing wineglasses coming together around a table with the evocative caption: "At my table/ I set a table for surprise/ I serve opinion and sometimes fact/ I simmer good conversation." Thank you, Anonymous!

A second prize drawing will be held for the next round of entries after January 11, 2007. Prizes include: two $50 meal vouchers for Japon Bistro in Pasadena; one $40 gift certificate for Tibet Nepal House, Pasadena; one $50 coupon for Chan Dara Pico (Thai) restaurants at their Larchmont and West LA locations.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Panda Express

Trashbin #11, 2006, Kaz Oshiro

"What are you eating?" is the community feedback zone set up at the exit of the Banquet show. Visitors are asked to respond to questions about what food means to them, what it says about who they are. The essays, photographs and recipes submitted will be put up on boards along the corridor and there will be a monthly prize drawing for selected entries.

The first batch of contributions came from a class of 9th graders at Duarte High School, as part of a writing assignment on the idea of the banquet. Among them, an essay titled "My Friendship Table" by Lara Guiragossian (read here), offers a lively description of going to Panda Express with friends on the last day of school. It adds another dimension to the show's closing piece Trashbin # 11, 2006, Kaz Oshiro, which critiques the assimilation of Asian cuisines to American fast food culture.

Other essays included: "Family togetherness" by Corey Cheraz; "Uniting Again" by Jonathan Graham; "Dinner Occasions" by Chris Granillo; "My 14th Birthday Party!" by Irene Haro; "My Special Holiday" by Jeanette Haro; "Family togetherness" by Judith Munoz; "Family Banquets" by Eduardo Ramirez; "Being around the People and the Food you Love" by Alyssa Reyes; "How Dinner Affects Me" by Justin Robles; "The Necessities of Food" by Marisa Sadek; "What is a Banquet?" by Patricia Sierra; "The family table" by Sean Sparks; "Food on Holidays" by Ken Truong; "My Christmas Banquet" by Candy Vargas. All essays are on view in the corridor.

Friday, November 10, 2006

opening night

Jung Eun Park, in front of Paper Menagerie Series, 2006

New York-based Jung Eun Park (born 1979, Seoul) was one of the artists who had flown in for the opening of Banquet: A Feast for the Senses. The above photo shows her standing in front of her work Paper Menagerie Series. Scattered across a wall painted sea-foam green, it's one of the most radiant areas in the show. Although the individual pieces are untitled, the delicate works of paper present organic forms that suggest vegetable peels seen under a microscope. Here are some of her reponses to "What are you eating?":

What foods do you love?
I like every kind of food but especially foods from the sea, except sea cucumber.

What do you like to eat with family and friends?
Spicy crab soup and dwenjang jjigae (traditional Korean soup)

What do you like to eat when you are alone?
Kimchi jjigae and Korean style beef curry.

What is the first thing you remember eating as a child?

One thing I can definitely remember is, I really didn't like to eat spinach. (Now I love it!)

What are three things you would like to eat before dying?
1. Toro sushi 2. Caviar with bread (I love it but it's too expensive) 3. My mother's dwenjang jjigae

Friday, November 03, 2006

Ramen noodle girl

Detail, Sublime Grave Dweller Shinko, 2004, Chiho Aoshima, chromogenic print
(30 x 118 inches). Courtesy of Blum & Poe, Los Angeles / Galerie Emmanuel Perrotin, Paris & Miami ©2004 Chiho Aoshima/Kaikai Kiki Co., Ltd. All Rights Reserved.

In Itami Juzo's cult "noodle Western" Tampopo, there is a wonderful scene where an old man expounds his views on the art of eating ramen. First, one must contemplate the contents of the bowl: the beads of fat glistening across the soup's surface, the noodles nestled below, three succulent slices of braise pork next to small piles of chopped scallion and shinachiku, or preserved baby bamboo. After solemnly inhaling the rising steam you may finally take up your chopsticks. But before plunging in one must pause to gently pat the soup and noodles in a gesture of affection and gratitude.

The film's title refers to its heroine, a frumpy middle-aged widow struggling with a run-down noodle joint. The place is a dump and quite frankly so are her noodles. Through circumstances she is adopted by five men who initiate her to the ramen universe -- the silence and economy of movements behind the counter, secrets to preparing the soup, the science of making noodles. In addition her shop is redesigned and Tampopo herself is given a makeover.

At the final test tasting, Tampopo anxiously watches the men slurp away at their bowls (making noise is obligatory when eating any type of noodles in Japan.) Simultaneously, all five lift up their bowls to gulp down the soup to its last drop, then put them down with a deep collective sigh. It is a transcendental moment and a ray of divine light shines into the shop.

Ramen is never just a bowl of noodles; rather it represents a whole worldview. So when that gets unceremoniously dumped on the head of one of Chiho Aoshima's hapless, cute-sexy waifs, it raises some interesting questions...

"Banquet: A Feast for the Senses" opens next Friday.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Obsession with fish

Detail, Harvest 1, 2004, Li Jin; courtesy of The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angles; The East West Bank Collection; promised gift of East West Bank.

figure frequently in the work of by Tianjing-based Li Jin and in this video profile you can watch him expertly scaling, slitting and frying one. The fish looks delicious sizzling in hot oil. Although we tend to forget in this age of gluttony and gourmandise, the painter's commentary reminds us that obsession with food can be a result of deprivation and need. This theme is picked up in a powerful and disturbing work titled "Starvation" by Zhi Lin, another of three artists born in China featured in the show.
"Banquet: A Feast for the Senses" opens in two weeks

Sunday, October 15, 2006

What are you eating? Roundup #1

What is your fondest food-related memory? What is it like to eat with your family? What is the secret ingredient in your favorite dish? These were some of the questions visitors were asked during Artnight. By the end of the evening some 74 responses were tacked on to a bulletin board set up in the gallery. Some highlights:

A lovely essay titled "Grandma's Ravioli" previously sent in by Sue Z Smith of Sierra Madre eloquently describes a certain pasta shape that holds special meaning for her. From museum staff, Jennifer offered an entry about the charm and extravagance of afternoon high tea at the Huntington Hotel with her mother as a child, while anonymous contributed musings on "How Ketchup Saved my Life."

Read more about secret ingredients and recipes here.
Special food moments and memories here.
Thoughts on food and family here.