For the purpose of argument, let's say there are two kinds of art*. There is lower-case-a "art," which I consider to be any human endeavor that strives to exist on a higher level of consciousness--this can be film, music, fashion, books, buildings, pens, software, food, whatever. The other is capital-A "Art," which is the what we usually think of--paintings, berets, museums, sawed-off ears, the works. This differentiation is, of course, increasingly difficult to discern--note that I'm not using the term "visual arts"--because of the increasing presence of participatory art in the Art world.
Brief interlude: it took me a very, very, very long time to be interested in Art at all. I have never been much of a visual person. I am interested in architecture, but that is largely because I am interested in places and space. Other than that, paintings were neat. Sculpture was cool, you know, in that people know how to do that. Some of my favorite Art is Rockwell Kent's Moby Dick prints, but that largely has to do with the fact that it's about Moby Dick. I've gotten off my high horse about Art, and realize that it can play a very important and very particular role in many people's lives. I'm just not really one of them.
Hey, isn't this a blog about food or something? Yeah! Well, this Art guy, Corin Hewitt, has an installation at the Whitney called Seed Stage. He has this crazy kitchen set up, and he makes food and takes pictures of it. It got written up in the New York Times, and frankly, it's making me cranky. And if there's anything that irritates me more than Art, it's when Art irritates me and that's somehow "part of the point" because it "got me to question my preconceptions." Barf.
In all fairness, I should get the following off my chest: Holland Cotter, who wrote the Times bit on Star Seeds, is pretty condescending when discussing food ("Mr. Hewitt spends part of his time here doing what cooks do: chopping, slicing, stewing, storing, making a mess and cleaning up.") and that probably affects my opinion of the installation more than it should. I don't know, I live in Texas and can't go to New York before Sunday to see it myself. Ok. Moving on.
What bugs me about this installation is the implication that having a food thing in an Art museum somehow validates the art of it. It's the idea that we have to dress up food in the trappings of a museum in order to "really think" about it. One of the great thing about food is that the art of it is available everywhere, accessible to everyone. Placing it in a museum setting makes it infinitely less accessible, as the audience is required to view it through the lens of the Art world. Also, it robs food of its burgeoning position of an art form in its own right, appropriating it for the Art world. Anyway, horseshit in general. I realize I am in the minority here, so I'll shut up now.
*My blog, my rules. Shut up, Critique and Theory Seminar Spring 2006. Get yer own medium.