‘Plenty’ exhibition serves up food for thought

Plenty brings together a selection of artists interested in research-based artistic practices presenting works that explore how we sustain and nourish ourselves.

Curated by Toby Chapman, Plenty uses notions around the production and consumption of food as a metaphor for us to think more broadly about our relationship to the land and the way in which food processes and cultivation have changed over time.

South Australia has a multi-billion dollar food industry that contributes much to the state in terms of employment but can also bring with it environmental and social issues. The artists in Plenty have responded to South Australia as a site for food production.

“Plenty considers how we might – both individually and collectively – shift our perceptions of sustainability when thinking about, and eating, food,” says Chapman. The artists have created new works for the exhibition commissioned through ACE Open, which Chapman believes contributes to artistic sustainability.

“As a curator I am interested in commissioning artists because this project is conceptually about food sustainability, but I am also really interested in how we can assist sustainable artistic practices,” says Chapman. “By commissioning the artists and providing them with fees to develop new work we contribute to their sustainability and their practices.”

Jamie Lewis' Tropical Kitchen audio market tour and lunch Photo: Helen Orr

Jamie Lewis’ Tropical Kitchen audio market tour and lunch also features in the program (Photo: Helen Orr)

James Tylor presents an installation work Mai: Contemporary Kaurna, reflecting his research into developing a new Australian cuisine called Mai. Using indigenous and non-indigenous foods it highlights the Kaurna nation’s unique history, culture, environments and ecosystems of the Adelaide plains in South Australia. A prototype of a cookbook Tylor is developing will appear in the exhibition alongside murals of maps and handmade utensils.

“It isn’t just about how a food source is sustainable but how food practices and cultural practices are sustainable over time,” says Chapman. “There is also a degree of education for audiences as they start to understand where their food comes from in an indigenous context.”

Another project featured in the exhibition is Sasha Grbich and Kelly Reynolds’ Urban Sun Project. The project invites people in the community to try and grow their own tomatoes from seeds from a Coles truss tomato. The particular varietal is owned by the supermarket giant and produced in controlled conditions at Sundrop Farms near Port Augusta. While the farms have a renewable-energy focus they are also homogenous. The project explores what kind of natural variation or difference can be created when food production is taken out of this restrictive context.

Keg de Souza, Changing Courses, 2017 (installation view), The National, Art Gallery of NSW. Vacuum storage bags, food, dialgical events. Photo AGNSW, Felicity Jenkins 2

Keg de Souza’s Changing Courses, 2017, The National, Art Gallery of NSW (Photo: Felicity Jenkins)

As part of the project Grbich and Reynolds have also been experimenting with vegetable gardens or plants that are portable and can be moved.

“The Urban Sun Project is quite serious for the provocation of how we might have to grow our fruit and vegetables in the future but it’s also quite playful in thinking about mobility and movement,” says Chapman.

Both of these projects and others featured in the exhibition are specifically about sites in an around Adelaide but from different perspectives and with different ideas and outcomes. The artists in Plenty present provocations or suggestions for ways in which we might start to think about the sustainability of our food in the future.

ACE Open
Lion Arts Centre Adelaide
Thursday 6 December to Saturday 9 February

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