By David Bell
(Wageningen Geography Lectures 2017-2018)
In this talk I will examine a selection of art works/projects centred on practices of commensality – cooking and eating together. Artists whose work I will explore include Gordon Matta Clark, Olafur Eliasson and Lucy + Jorge Orta. I want to use these art works to think about, on the one hand, how artists have used practices of cooking and eating together in the context of the participatory/ relational/ social turn in art, and on the other, how these art works shed critical light on the performance and meaning of commensality, drawing on work in critical hospitality studies. What does making art that gets eaten mean for both art and for eating? What does it mean for the artist and for the audience, when the gallery becomes an eatery or an artist offers to do your washing up? When sitting down to eat a meal together is framed as ‘social sculpture’? And how can we engage critically with these art works as a way to think about the complicated but everyday ‘social work’ of food and of art?
David Bell is Professor of Cultural Geography at the University of Leeds, UK, where from 2012-17 he was Head of School. He has worked across different disciplines, teaching Sociology, Cultural Studies and Gender Studies as well as Geography. David has researched and written about a wide range of topics, with his principal focus in recent years being on medical tourism, cultural policy, and the question of hospitality. He is currently completing a co-authored book on cosmetic surgery tourism, Beautyscapes, and also writing a book tentatively entitled Hospitality, Commensality, Conviviality: Essays on Living Together. His most recent journal articles have appeared in South Atlantic Quarterly, Geoforum, Architecture & Culture, and Asia Pacific Viewpoint.