International exhibitions

International 2009 Archives

Eating the Universe, Food in Art
Kunsthalle Düsseldorf (Germany)

28.11.2009 - 28.02.2010

07.09 - 25.11.2012

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Press release

Eat Art, a term invented by Daniel Spoerri for art made with and involving food, has its institutionalized origins in Düsseldorf. In 1970, Spoerri founded the Eat Art Gallery alongside the Burgplatz and inspired numerous artists to produce various editions made of edible materials and food wastes. Based on the former activities of the gallery, the exhibition in the Kunsthalle Düsseldorf takes generous stock of the phenomena from today's perspective and traces the original character of eat art from its origins until today.

"Eating the Universe" is a title first created in the 1970's by Peter Kubelka, former professor for Film and Cooking at the Frankfurt Städelschule, for a TV-show on cooking as an artistic genre. It demonstrates the ongoing interest of artists even today in the subject of food as an elementary substance. As a fundamental interface of art and life, food remains a central topic, especially against the backdrop of issues such as affluence and hunger, the anti-consumerism and anti-globalization movements, modern dietetics and cooking shows, health crazes and fast food.

The exhibition is structured into two closely related sections. A small historical part is dedicated to the origins of Eat Art, as well as a reconstruction of the Eat Art Gallery. Seminal work by Daniel Spoerri, some of the "Fallenbilder" and parts of his collection of recipe books, will be shown alongside some of the most important multiples created for the Eat Art Gallery, e.g. work by Joseph Beuys, Dieter Roth, André Thomkins, Günther Uecker, Ben Vautier, Günther Weseler and others.

The main part of the exhibition presents a wide range of more recent work that deals with the use of edible material. Cooking and eating as social and cultural performances are the starting point for Christine Bernhard's ethnologically based research, Arpad Dobriban's annotated banquets, Rirkrit Tiravanija's culinary performances, as well as Dustin Ericksen's and Mike Roger's collection of drink containers used by artists. Sonja Alhäuser, Judith Samen and Jana Sterbak share a sculptural interest in the sensual, strongly physical and ephemeral aesthetic qualities evident in the usage of foodstuffs.

The work of Michel Blazy, in which microorganisms or mice are constitutive elements, provokes both fascination and discomfort. Playfully surreal, cryptic or grotesque aspects of our everyday contact with food are the subject of very distinct individual approaches in the work of BBB Johannes Deimling, John Bock, Carsten Höller and Shimabuku. In experimental laboratory set-ups, Thomas Feuerstein and Philip Ross breed organisms under the conditions of industrial food production.

The kitchen, not only as a laboratory, but also as a creative and social production site in general, is another reoccurring subject of the exhibition. Andreas Wegner reconstructs Schütte-Lihotzky's famous Frankfurt Kitchen from 1926 and reflects its social and architectural conditions. In his "Cooking Studio" Christian Jankowski offers ironic and provocative insights into the media impact and marketability of gastronomical performances, whereas Zeger Reyers has built a slowly rotating kitchen full of food, which gradually transforms itself from a fully operative everyday object into a trash container. The implicit critique of our affluent society's habits is likewise a central aspect of Thomas Rentmeister's work, while Mika Rottenberg's video installations combine consumer worlds and pre-industrial production conditions in absurd settings.

The relationship with our own bodies, our beauty ideals and eating disorders are further topics of the exhibit and the main focus of work by L.A. Raeven and Elke Krystufek, who, like Paul McCarthy, employ food in their taboo breaking performances.


Exhibition 28 November 2009 - 28 February 2010. Kunsthalle Düsseldorf, Grabbeplatz 4 - 40123 Düsseldorf (Germany).

The artists : Sonja Alhäuser, Arman, BBB Johannes Deimling, Christine Bernhard, Joseph Beuys, Michel Blazy, John Bock, Paul McCarthy, César, Arpad Dobriban, Dustin Ericksen/Mike Rogers, Lili Fischer, Thomas Feuerstein, Anya Gallacio, Carsten Höller, Christian Jankowski, Bernd Jansen, Elke Krystufek, Peter Kubelka, Richard Lindner, Gordon Matta-Clark, Antoni Miralda and Dorothee Selz, Tony Morgan, L.A. Raeven, Thomas Rentmeister, Zeger Reyers, Philip Ross, Dieter Roth, Mika Rottenberg, Judith Samen, Shimabuku, Daniel Spoerri, Jana Sterbak, André Thomkins, Rikrit Tiravanija, Günther Uecker, Ben Vautier, Andreas Wegner, Günther Weseler.

Eating the Universe, Food in Art, Kunsthalle Düsseldorf

© ArtCatalyse International / Marika Prévosto 2012. All Rights Reserved