CURRENT:LA FOOD Delivers Tasty Art
through November 3
Written by Genie Davis
The second CURRENT Public Art Triennial has a delicious theme this time around. Launched in 2016 with CURRENT: LA Water, the City’s Department of Cultural Affairs has partnered with the Institute of Contemporary Art Los Angeles and commissioned 15 artists to present their take on food accessibility and equity. Installations have been placed in public parks and neighborhoods beginning on October 5th, running through November 3rd. 75 events are planned during the event, all are free and open to the public.
From the diversity of today’s food culture to modern science experiments, issues of hunger and nutrition, healthy and unhealthy foods, CURRENT: LA FOOD takes on a wide range of topics.
To see a complete list of programming, art, and events, as well as location addresses and performance dates and times, visit currentla.org/calendar; here are some highlights of this vast and encompassing event, indicated by venue.
Barnsdall Park, East Hollywood
Los Angeles Eats Itself offers a fictional tale of an end of the world survivalist’s pantry. From fermenting dishes to foraged meals and survivalist food provisions, this exhibition presents offers a unique look at surviving the “Big One.”
Also at Barnsdall, New Shores: The Future Dialogue Between Two Homelands presents the immigrant experience and the ethnic diversity around Barnsdall Park in a collaborative personal account from local chefs and Julio César Morales and Max La Rivière-Hedrick. Their narrative about food and migration is the basis for a multisensory installation and a series of performances inspired by night markets.
Pershing Square, DTLA
Artist Nancy Lupo’s Open Mouth is an installation of custom benches with rounded ends resembling teeth. The benches are positioned in the diagram of an adult human mouth. Both art work and stage, the location serves as a nexus for public programming community partner The Golden Dome and collaborators. Here, explorations of food and prismatic color at two separate gatherings involve tea ceremonies, shared meals, sound, and performance, addressing the personal, social, spiritual, and political aspects of food and drink.
Martin Luther King Jr. Park, South LA
SEE-LA presents a full-day park gathering connecting community members to local growers with talks and workshops. The organization operates farmer’s markets throughout the region.
Leimert Plaza Park, Leimert Park
SUPERSEED’s vegan experience SÜPRFEST brings meals from some of the best vegan vendors in the city, while opening new possibilities for food and wellness.
Also at Leimart Park, Nari Ward’s Enchanted Servers metaphorically set the table to celebrate and reflect on how food is served. A totem sculpture constructed from food plate covers and jacks represents LA car culture, food trucks, and DIY music instruments. A bevy of interactive programs are centered around the installation.
Reseda Recreation Center, Reseda
Eva Aguila & Coaxial Arts Foundation present Comida a Mano, an installation featuring an outdoor earthen oven and demonstrations by a local tortillero artist. A screening of new experimental videos by artists focusing on a tradition of eating by hand are also presented.
Also at the center, Across Our Kitchen Table presents an afternoon-long event that includes a pop-up marketplace, a traditional arts workshop, cooking demos, family activities, and a dance performance.
Venice Beach Recreation Center, Venice
Mussel Beach, from Cooking Sections, offers a look at the impact of climate change on mussels, which act as filters for pollution along the shoreline. A series of mixed-media interventions along the beach, include a choreographed audio tour, investigates some of the consequences of human activity on nature.
Additionally in Venice, Human Resources LA and a diverse group of artists contribute ‘recipe’ versions of new and existing artworks to create an artist’s ‘cookbook.’ The recipes will also be performed using four handball courts at Venice Beach Recreation Center as stages.
Roger Jessup Park, Pacoima
Bed & Breakfast showcases three separate workshops teaching participants how to fabricate and cook with solar cookers. An instructional publication, with plans and recipes for a variety of DIY methods, as well as B&B artist contributions, illustrates this fun and energy-saving way of cooking. An RSVP is required for these workshops, which take place on three October weekends.
Emily Marchand’s A Thousand Lunches examines ideologies around survival; volunteers participate in a large-scale lunch-packing session to benefit local homeless services, and a large community lunch takes place on a compostable cloth embedded with seeds. Participants can cut portions from the cloth and use the seeds to grow food.
Delano Recreation Center, Van Nuys
gloria galvez and the Women’s Center for for Creative Work present an animated video, Going Bananas! in Spanish with English subtitles. The video presents the problematic history and current conditions of bananas sold to Western countries. Food historian Susan Park will accompany the video loop with a meal of banana-based foods, and conduct a conversation with Galvez. The gathering is intended to serve as a catalyst for conscious consumerism.
Also at this location: ALL AGAIN, a choral and movement performance organized and led by Carolyn Pennypacker Riggs and Annie Gimas, reflects on themes including food justice, ecology, and environmental manipulation, with an emphasis on access, food waste, and compost.
Valley Plaza Recreation Center, North Hollywood
Shana Lutker presents her Contemporary Museum of Temporary Containers (CMTC), an installation of single-use takeout containers painted a single color and organized by size, shape, or former contents. The work is designed to encourage creative reuse.
Also at Valley Plaza, Christopher Reynolds presents a site-specific installation in and around the pool featuring sounds, scents, and performances in a pink-hued experience focusing on manipulative food marketing and consumption.
Palms Park, West LA
Ry Rocklen’s Food Group: The Body Palms imagines Palms Park as a giant digestive system, with an installation of bronze sculptures and a live performance based on his Food Group characters, clad in costumes modeled after popular foods eaten by hand, including popcorn, cupcakes, and tacos.
Babsi Loisch hosts a series of events that explore the ways we talk about and engage in the often-private act of feeding infants and toddlers.
Martin Luther King Jr. Park, South LA
Jazmin Urrea creates eight-foot-tall sculptures filled with Flamin’ Hot Cheetos® as a witty monument to popular junk food. They serve as a reminder of the extreme limitations of nutritional options in disfranchised communities.
LA Historic Park, Chinatown/Elysian Park
Adria Juila’s A Very White Flower looks at the relationship between the film industry and popcorn, and explore this snack’s production and consumption in two new films.
Also at this location: the park’s history as a Tongva village, the development of agriculture and industry, and decolonizing the future of LA food are the topics in three fireside chats by the Los Angeles Food Policy Council.
Pan Pacific Park, Fairfax/Mid-City
Artist Michael Rakowitz re-creates Room F of the destroyed Northwest Palace of Nimrud in Iraq as an outdoor banquet space; with dates as the main ingredient in the project’s meals, the historical engagements between the U.S., Iraq, and the date industry are discussed.
Additionally at this location, Leyna Lightman collaborates with women from different regions of the world to prepare, bake, and share bread over conversations that explore the history and heritage of bread, created in a site-specific adobe oven.
Exposition Park Rose Garden, Expo Park/Adams
Artist Michael Queenland’s Untitled, 2019 metal sculpture is on display, presenting an image of breakfast cereal piled on top of a hand-knotted rug featuring patterns from the Pakistan-Afghanistan border region.
In the park’s Rose Garden, the Center for the Arts Eagle Rock’s one-day, all-ages event offers a wide range of activities including interactive activities that involve food, art, and poetry, including an enchanted picnic, a scavenger hunt, and poetry book making in conjunction with the Los Angeles Poetry Society. Artisan chocolate maker Zoila Newton instructs participants in the making of Zapotec-heritage chocolates.
Orcutt Ranch Horticultural Center, West Hills
Nonfood’s algae-harvesting greenhouse explores this alternative food-production option for sustainable and nutritious products. The translucent minimalist structure features a functioning alkaline pond installation growing FDA-approved algae.
Ted Watkins Memorial Park, Watts
A reimagined barbecue area, designed by Torolab, becomes a social space to create a crowd-sourced project titled Watts Cookbook.