19 July 2014

Harvest at GOMA; food for eyes

Words: Saskia Edwards
Images: Jonathan Rae

Food is often considered only within the parameters of eating.

But food extends far beyond the single sense of taste.

Harvest reveals food’s experiential scope from seeing, hearing to touch.

Harvest includes more than 150 works from the gallery’s collection from seventeenth century oil painting to new installation acquisitions by Tom├ís Saraceno.

The exhibition includes video installation, still-life painting, sculpture, film and photography.

Within these forms it is evident that food is entrenched with symbolism, history and connotations.

Works within the exhibition explore the ideas of wealth, global food trade, food production and distribution and native delicacies.

For example, Shirana Shahbazi’s Still life: Coconut and other things manages to combine seventeenth century aesthetics with contemporary themes. The image contains lush glossy tropical fruits.

It seems to be a reference to colonial prosperity where food from Africa, Asia and the Americas in art served to represent affluence and the conquering of the world. It evokes a sense of pride in our superiority. And it makes the thought linger: are we still victors over nations struggling under poverty and destitution?

Of course the exhibition culminates at the gallery restaurant. And there food is presented in its most obvious manifestation, as a dish.

But after witnessing food in so many different forms, it seems almost underwhelming to eat. Almost too temporal given the vast nature of the subject.

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