press release

In recent years, food has come to play an enormous and increasing central role in society. The subject is no longer peripheral or the domain of experts: it now attracts passionate perspectives, forms of reflection and discussion, and has become a catalyser for convergences among different viewpoints. Smartphones and social networks further escalated the perception of food in everyday life, television turned into a kitchen in constant production, and the world was "gourmetized." This convergence, responsible for the emergence of a wide field of creative actions, is the theme of CRU (RAW): food, transformation and art, curated by Marcello Dantas, a multidisciplinary event that runs until October 12 at the Centro Cultural Banco do Brasil (CCBB) in Brasilia, sponsored by BB Seguridade and structured around three main events: a major exhibition, bringing together works by more than 34 national and international artists; three performances, led by artists, musicians and chefs; various gastronomic interventions in city restaurants.

"I have always been fascinated by the attempt to understand this interplay between juxtaposing the absurdly ephemeral—food—and the desire to eternalize which transforms things into art. Food is at once the most momentary and most enduring expression of a culture. A dish does not last more than a day, but it can remain in the imagination for centuries," says Dantas, who noticed the increasing presence of food as a symbolic, metaphorical, or plastic element in exhibitions around the world. A kind of food that not only nourishes the body, but also the eyes, the mind and the spirit.

The idea that food itself can be used as the material of art is the premise of the exhibition. In English, the name for what art is made of—"raw material"—would be something like "matéria crua," in a literal translation to Braziian Portuguese. This is CRU: what artists from different parts of the world have done with food to transform it into art. An act that can be freighted with countless poetic possibilities and provide bridges for cultural encounters such as few other exchanges in the world are able to. Food in art generates a common denominator that transcends barriers, encourages experimentation, and is a gift to our interest in diversity. Food is the great miracle that man exercises over nature. By applying knowledge, technique, and poetry, man has given food the status of a permanent work in progress.

On the one hand, CRU presents collective performances in which chefs and artists collaborate to create experiences with forceful sensory and synesthesic appeal. Among them, Re Vira Volta, with the percussive ice cream happening created by Héctor Zamora and Ana Luiza Trajano with percussion group Barbatuques; or blind faith in the sweetness of Rirkrit Tiravanija's collaboration with Kreëmart and the possibility of discovering the flavor your eyes don't know how to reveal; or even the spectacular "Pre-Brazil Banquet," where Neka Menna Barreto, Lara Pinheiro and Fernando Limberger venture to build a tribute to the fruits, roots and grains that were native to the country before the land was inoculated by the other plant species that abound in the country today. This eight-hour ritual of preparation, performed on October 12, will culminate in the truest flavor of the Brazilian terroir, highlighting what grows here natively but is constantly overlooked by chefs and the public.

The exhibition also collects works in which food acts as a focal point for questions of politics, as in the video Knafeh by Sigalit Landau, in which the common ground between Jews and Palestinians is a dessert shared by both cultures; or environmental issues, as in Dana Sherwood's intervention, which seeks a point of contact between humans and animals through food; or in the symbolic and spiritual charge of the work of Ayrson Heraclito, which speaks of food as a hub for contact between the spheres of the gods and of mankind in Candomblé. Powerful works, like that of the great Daniel Spoerri, manage to freeze the moment in time when people are gathered together around food at the table. 

Furthermore, the evolving relationship between art and food gains even more compelling contours in the current scenario. If earlier artists created representations of food, others came to use it as raw material for their work, culminating in an even more radical tendency, with the artist becoming the farmer—the one who produces food, using creative artifice and a sort of environmental "artivism," in which contemporary artists begin to investigate new forms of production and socialization of our experiences of food. This new picture can be seen in the exhibition through Philip Ross' groundbreaking "Mycotecture" series, through which the artist aims to grow an entire building out of fungal material. 

List of artists: Ayrson Heráclito, Damián Ortega, Dana Sherwood, Daniel Spoerri, Fernanda Rappa, Fyodor Pavlov-Andreevich, Gabriel Rodriguez Pellecer, Gabriel Sierra, Greta Alfaro, Hector Zamora, João Maria Gusmão and Pedro Paiva, Jorge Menna Barreto, Hans Op de Beeck, Mark Dion, Michel Blazy, Neka Menna Barreto, Philip Ross, Pierre Fonseca, Rivane Neuenschwander, Rochelle Costi, Ryan Gander, Sigalit Landau, Sonja Alhäuser, Sophie Calle, Thomas Rentmeister, and Zhang Huan

The performances: Héctor Zamora (in partnership with musical group Barbatuques and chef Ana Luiza Trajano), Rirkrit Tiravanija with Kreëmart and chef Neka Menna Barreto with Jorge Menna Barreto, Fernando Limberger and Lara Pinheiro