Ever eat a gingerbread house? What about a gingerbread housing project? Food, art, film, performance, music, and critical dialogue characterized the opening of the 5th annual The Last Supper Festival Saturday. Artists of every type presented work that raised questions about consumption and means in a time of economic crisis, inviting people’s minds and stomachs to participate in the discussion.
What started out over five years ago as a private dinner series between artist and architect Coralina Meyer and her other post-graduate artists and friends has now become an established event for the public that Meyer curates every fall. In the exhibition, Meyer aims to open up critical dialogue in the community through traditional and non-traditional art work that stimulates the five senses and creates a unique atmosphere for conversation through food.
“The psychological conversation that happens over a meal is one of humility and accessibility,” Meyer explained. “There’s just a completely different vibe that you get when you’re having a conversation over a meal as opposed to being at a gallery or being on the street. I’m architect and an artist so I’m constantly thinking about what the environment for discussion and social interaction is. As I got older I realized food is what really brings people together.”
Throughout the night, patrons picked at and munched on—some timidly, others with less decorum—Bowie + Eve and Eliza Myrie’s “Edible Ghetto/Ghetto Edibles,” a housing project made from gingerbread and candy. It was just one of dozens of pieces at the exhibition—many of which invited audience participation—that thoughtfully and unorthodoxly touched on the night’s topic, “Means,” which explored ideas of consumption, politics, decay, resources, and the repurposing of objects and materials.
“We’re creating a situation where people can interact with an issue that they wouldn’t necessarily otherwise interact with,” Myrie said. “We’re packaging something that’s really difficult to deal with in a way that people can physically interact with.”
“The big thing on people’s minds is that everyone is tight on resources right now,” Meyer said. “Rents are going up; people are losing their jobs. The interesting thing is that artists have always been at that level, starving and making things work with what they have. I felt like this was an opportunity to seize that dynamic—this larger social paradigm that’s shifting towards a place of resourcefulness and making something from nothing. Essentially that’s what artists have been doing since inception.”
Other works in the food area included a mushroom “StrataSpore Layered Cake” by biG CAAKe, re-arrangeable and edible chocolate poetry by Lagusta Yearwood, an ant and aphid-inspired white sangria offering by Jenny Zhang, sugar cookie tools by Amelia Coulter of Sugarbuilt, and a performance piece, “Thunder Moon Offering,” which involved a beautiful array of flowers and animal tongues. In “Spirits,” Francis Estrada modified alcohol bottles with religious iconography, adding easy-to-pour spout tops, the better for guests to drink up. A guest chef, Simon Langue, cooked up plates for guests who arrived early enough.
“I wanted the show to be accessible to people,” Meyer said. “I think the food element became the backbone of that value because we ended up realizing that even if someone doesn’t get the conceptual art, even if they don’t get the films, and even if they’re not into the music, they get the food. It’s communicable. Everyone eats, everyone tastes. It’s one of the most basic things you can access. I found it’s really important to stretch people’s imagination of what that is and what your basic needs are.”
The night also included the screening of thirteen short films and performances by several bands, deejays, and artists. The Brooklyn Torch Committee, whose project is making an alternative economy for Brooklyn, had a table where people could design currency, while Emilie Baltz set up a sound projection booth “Food Bank,” where people could record their own stories about food.
Paintings, photographs, sculptures, and other mixed-media work, which encompassed a variety of topics and mediums, filled the rest of the space. Annie Wienmayr created intricate fleur-de-lis designs out of $100 bills, while Rafael Rosario-Laguna created a heart out of resin and tripe and Tyrome Tripoli created condominiums out of vacuum cleaners. Many of the works, which varied in tone and subject matter, looked at the repurposing of materials—from raw materials, to trash, to the idea of womanhood, such as in Kerry Mansfield’s self-portrait series in which she showed the stages of her mastectomy and cancer recovery.
“People in the show can’t just have great work,” Meyer said. “They have to understand that this is about reaching out and having a conversation. We really try to show the spectrum of work in terms of seriousness and light heartedness. Stimulating all five senses allows the viewer to access information in different ways. It allows for a personalization of the work. The opportunity we’re setting up here is to invite people in with tasty food and then present them with what we have to say.”
The uneaten remains of The Last Supper Festival will be at 3rd Ward in Bushwick until October 3. For more information, visit lambastic.com