Accepted abstract - Creative Tastebuds Symposium 2020

Thirst for imports

Innovation showcase

By Phyllis Wong, studio pw/, The Netherlands.

‘Thirst for Imports’ is a multi-disciplinary project reflecting our over-consumption of foreign imported food. This unsustainable eating practice can be avoided if we patronise our own locally or regionally grown supply more. By doing so, social issues occurring at the foreign grower’s countries due to the high demand from the European market is prevented. The photographic artwork is staged and inspired by the painting ‘Christ in the house of Martha and Mary’.

As the artwork carries biblical reference, the installation of the artwork and innovation showcase aims to reference an altar set up. Mimicking an altar, the artwork is hung at the end wall of the exhibition hall (see Figure 1). A custom and simplified designed ‘confession’ pew is placed in front of the artwork. It is designed for the audience to kneel on (like a penitent) to review a questionnaire about their own foreign food consumption. I, the artist and designer behind the ensemble, will assist the audience with the questions, acting loosely as a priest reviewing a penitent’s confession.

According to the answers to the questionnaire, alternative and similar options (with Aarhus as con- text) are suggested to the audience in replacement to the foreign imports the audience picked. These options are sourced within 50 km around Aarhus and carry similar taste, texture and/or nutrients as the foreign food selected. This concept is to promote sustainable eating and support local resources; all in tune to reduce the impact of importing foreign items. At the same time, the concept thrives to glorified Aarhus’ culinary options that are rich and interesting as it ranges from land grown and sea sourced gourmet.

At the end of the ‘confession’ experiment, small samples of dehydrated or preserved fruits, vegetables and meat sourced around 50 km from Aarhus will be handed out to the penitent. These tasters are inspired by altar crackers or ‘hostia’ given out by the priest after a mass or communion; to suggest a binding understanding of this reflection between the audience and artist. 

‘Thirst for Imports’ and its innovation showcase hope to provoke a subtle criticism while giving the audience substantial self-reflection and contemplation. The demand for foreign food, much to the culture of globalisation, is commonly practised among us/audience. This convenience has become a big part of our daily lives and we are either not educated about the issues that come with it or have simply overlooked the consequences.

‘Thirst for Imports’ and its innovation showcase offers a very relevant relationship with Creative Tastebuds’ concept. The idea of preaching sustainable eating and reflecting upon imported food culture in this project can literally alter our taste buds to new and better food choices. In a more general scheme, the hope is that this reflection will lead to an alteration on a more global scale which then can have the power to make real changes in a bigger spectrum. The project artistry is impactful with reference to ‘Christ in the house of Martha and Mary’ biblical citation and contemporary twist. Finally, the artwork and its innovation showcase cross different mediums which will enhance the audience’s interest for more interactive participation.

Figure 1: Innovation showcase exhibit and display