Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Reinhardt Over and Over Again

Alistair Rider, 'Reinhardt Over and Over Again', published in The Brooklyn Rail Ad Reinhardt Centennial, 1913-2013 (December 2013-January 2014), p. 54.

Feeding Plans II

On her 22nd birthday in March 2001, the English artist Ellie Harrison commenced a photo-diary of everything that she ate over the course of one year. The project was called Eat 22, and is now in the collection of the Wellcome Institute in London.

Image: 178
Date: 8 April 2001
Time: 13:13
Food: banana
Location: studio, Nottingham

Harrison established strict rules for the work:

'All food must be photographed before it is eaten.
All food photographed must then be consumed.
Any additional food eaten, not included in the original photograph, must be photographed separately (second helpings, extra portions, desserts etc).
In places where photography is prohibited (cinemas etc), food must be photographed prior to entering or not consumed at all.
In the case of party food (crisps in bowls etc), wherever possible all handfuls should be photographed.
Liquid is exempt, however drinks which are considered to to have some solid content should be photographed (soups etc).
Chewing gum is exempt as it is not consumable.
If any of these rules are broken, details must be recorded in the log.'

Image: 903
Date: 10 September 2001
Time: 19:37
Food: 2 baked potatoes with cottage cheese, 3 veggie sausages, slices roasted squash
Location: kitchen, Ealing

Harrison lists 1640 photographs on her web description of the work, Eat 22.

Eat 22 is subtly different from Knowles' Identical Lunch. For Knowles, consistency is a means of turning attention to ordinary everydayness, and a meal eaten is treated as suitably representative of this. The focus is less on recording every single lunch that she consumes (although the fact that we are led to believe that the lunch is 'identical' invites us to entertain the idea that - like Andy Warhol's soup-based midday meal - Knowles enjoys the same soup and tuna sandwich daily, and, following from this, that the artwork embraces every lunch the artist ever consumes).

In contrast, Harrison's project attests to a new digital era, in which data collection and data logging has become a simple and widely-available technology. Harrison's Eat 22 links eating with picture taking: the camera and computer become as essential as the crockery and cutlery.

A historical study could be written about the emergence of works of art that grow at a regulated pace. Maybe its beginnings date back to the late 1960s, and to the rise of conceptual art and performance-based practices. Almost always these are durational or long-term projects. They are distinguished by the fact that they develop accretively, unregulated by artistic inspiration or creative urges. Instead, they expand according to more ordinary factors, such as the ticking of a clock, or the needs of the stomach.              

Feeding Plans I

In the early 1970s, the Fluxus artist Alison Knowles prepared an event score which she called The Identical Lunch. It was based on her experience of consuming her daily meal at Riss Restaurant at 242 Eighth Avenue, Chelsea, New York.

The Identical Lunch comprises "a tunafish sandwich on wheat grass toast with lettuce and butter, no mayo, and a large glass of buttermilk or a cup of soup". Knowles invited many of her friends to participate in this performance, and she documents the records of their experiences in her 1971 publication, 'Journal of the Identical Lunch'.

Reading through the diary-like entries that comprise the book, it quickly becomes apparent that the only element that remains even loosely identical is the description of the meal as it appears as a meal option on a restaurant menu. 

The journal entries record the wide number of variables that the score permits, and which are contingent on the venue, the chef, the food products themselves, the waiter service, the mood of the performer, and so on. 

One entry by Jim Maya in Knowles' publication succinctly summarizes what other contributors also imply:

'The identical food demands little or no thought:
The surrounding activities take all your thought:

The waitress, her hair, her lips, the napkins,
Their embossments or lack of embossments.
The stools, the chairs, the heat.

When you've finished --
You hardly know you've eaten.'

Riss Restaurant closed long ago, but to this day Knowles continues to perform Identical Lunch in various locations.