Saturday, January 31, 2009

Food as Art (?)

I've been meaning to go to SFMOMA since I moved to SF. It took me over a year, but I finally made it there right before the holidays.

It was fun. I walked around, saw some Dali and Jasper Johns, relished some Olafur Eliasson and Shiro Kuramata (I want that cabinet). I had a latte in the cafe, wore my most artistic outfit, discussed politics with a disdaining tone - and walked around like an all-to-serious conneiseur of life's finer things.

But for the life of me, I really did not know how to react to the museum's special exhibition, called "The Art of Participation." At moments walking through those installations and pieces, I swung between stifling yawns, laughing aloud with incredulity, intaking my breathe sharply in wonder, appreciating profound things, and playing (see below; is it appropriate to faux-fight in a work of art?).

A range of reactions for a range of artwork. In the experimental exhibition, you can 1) drink free beer with an artist (Tom Marioni), 2) pile brooms on top of people, and 3) have your portrait taken for display - among other things. And at the end of it all, thanks to one artist's huge stack of reprinted photos, I even walked out with a piece of free photocopied art to take home with me.

One installation in particular, though, resonated with me. Against a black white wall, in a thin white shelf, one artist offered a modest sample if kitchen groceries. A green bell pepper, an orange, a banana, a carrot and a single can of food. The scribbled drawing on the side instructed viewers to, in fact, play with the food items. Make a living statue. Rearrange them on the shelf. And so, therein lay the most profound message of the whole show. For me, anyway: play with your food! After all, if it's in SFMOMA, it's haute arte. . .