Boulder’s Museum of Contemporary Art has been converted into a space of symbiotic aesthetic and physical experience by Viviane Le Courtois’ Exibit: Edible? Both East and West Galleries have been dedicated to the Denver-based artist, as both a retrospective and a display of her more current work: In the Garden of Earthly Delights and an on-going series of Kambucha prints.
By utilizing food as a means to communicate her artistic ideas, Le Courtois aims to construct a subjective experience for the viewer, relying on personal history, memory, context, and individual perception as a means of promoting the concept of relational aesthetics, a form of art that incites viewer/artist interaction and reciprocity. Through sculpture, print, video, imagery, and performance, Le Courtois explores the ritual aspects of consumption, ceremonial food preparation, and the individual and social connotations related to eating.
After noticing the social aspect necessary to the process of viewing and experiencing art, Le Courtois decided to create a space that functions as a mediator of individual perception, but also a catalyst of interaction with other viewers and the physical art piece itself. The West Gallery has been transformed into a garden of sorts; participants are encouraged to pick the herbs incubating under grow lights, and are asked to engage in the performative act of consuming, sharing, and simultaneously destroying the piece.
The Eastern Gallery houses a mid-career retrospective of Le Courtois’ food-related works. Her prolific repertoire of food art includes metal-cast sculptures of decaying food objects and a series of 200 objects preserved in perpetuity, suspended in pickle jars. Although her work seems somewhat playful, there is a discernibly dark undertone, examining society’s underlying dysfunctional relationship with food and the product of consumption and waste. Several of her sculptures exploit junk-food products like sugar candies and Cheetos, as the medium and recipient of her inquiry.
Ultimately, Le Courtois’ exhibition is both fascinating and engaging. While the playful façade of vivid colored candies, marshmallows, and glistening metal speak to the pure visuality and physical space occupied by her pieces, the conceptual ideas founding the work speak more distinctly as a collective than individually. Her use of food as medium elicits an unavoidable reaction from all viewers, engaging our subjective experiences as a means of uniting the disparate perception of contemporary art. We are left to question: What is art exactly? How can simple food objects be transformed into a medium of expression and inquiry? We all have a subjective relationship with food, and its prominence in our lives and its divisive status within society make it the perfect means of facilitating a discourse around food and art.
You can see the Viviane Le Courtois exhibition at Boulder’s Museum of Contemporary Art starting February 23rd through June 17th 2012.
Food as Art: bARTer Collective Event March 8th and 9th at 6pm. (Exhibit through March 11th)
BMoCA invites you to “experience a culinary encounter by participating in an exchange with the bARTer collective. Receive a commemorative object when you share your FoodLore—a food-related story or memory tied to a recipe. Featuring food, trading, interactive performances, surprises, and a special contribution by guest artist Rebecca Vaughan.”