Geneva exhibition casts critical gaze on food

Updated 20 December 2012
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Geneva exhibition casts critical gaze on food

A contemporary art show opening this week in Geneva aims to spark a dialogue on man’s intricate relationship with food in a world where nearly a billion people are undernourished, the curator said Tuesday.
“The relationship we have with food is much more complex and important than the simple connection to gastronomy,” Adelina von Fuerstenberg said in her introduction to the exhibit “FOOD,” that opened at the Ariana Museum yesterday.
Through the works of 27 artists from around the world, the traveling exhibition, which debuted in Geneva before moving on to Milan, Sao Paulo and Marseille and then back to Milan to take part in the 2015 World Expo, displays a range of issues related to food, including over-consumption and hunger.
“Every five seconds, a child under the age of 10 starves to death,” von Fuerstenberg said, pointing out that famines are often created not by a lack of food but by “global surpluses that are used to destabilize agricultural production in developing countries.”
Among the colorful mix of nearly 40 works, ranging from photographs to paintings to installations to short films, one piece called “Days in trash” for instance addresses the issue by showing a group of people removing fresh food tossed in the garbage and using it to cook up a feast. The film, part of an artistic project called “wastecooking” launched in Austria in April this year, “aims to capture the spectator’s brain through their stomach to sensitise them to the question of global food waste,” according to the description of the piece.
Spanish artist Miralda meanwhile hints at the danger of diminishing biodiversity with a piece called “Reserva Natural” featuring a number of colorful skulls created from different types of dried beans. “It’s a living artwork, even if it represents the icon of death,” he told AFP, pointing out that “it’s organic, it will disappear, but you can also water it and it will sprout.”


The exhibition, which features works by other renowned artists like Marina Abramovic of Serbia, Joseph Beuys of Germany and Pipilotti Rist of Switzerland, is set to run in Geneva until Feb. 24.


Review: A political artist talks humanity, refugees and mass migration

Updated 22 April 2018
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Review: A political artist talks humanity, refugees and mass migration

BEIRUT: This precious blue book is a compilation of famed Chinese artist Ai Weiwei’s thoughts on the global refugee crisis, edited by prominent American collector and publisher Larry Warsh. “Humanity” is full of important messages that can be delivered at any time, hence the handy, bag-friendly size.
The quotations, selected from interviews, magazine features and podcasts from around the world, show Ai Weiwei’s thoughts on humanity, mass migration and refugees.
According to his interview excerpts, the artist believes we have lost the capacity for compassion.
“The refugee crisis is not about refugees, rather, it is about us. Our prioritization of financial gain over people’s struggle for the necessities of life is the primary cause of much of this crisis. The West has all but abandoned its belief in humanity and support for the precious ideals contained in declarations on universal human rights, it has sacrificed these ideals for short-sighted cowardice and greed,” he once said.
Ai Weiwei understands how it feels to be completely destitute in a foreign land, with nothing but one’s humanity. In 1959, during the Cultural Revolution, he accompanied his father to a labor camp in the Gobi Desert. When he returned to Beijing with his parents in 1975, he was 19 and determined to fight against injustice. Not afraid to criticize the Chinese authorities, he became an outspoken artist-cum-activist. He is now considered one of the most iconic artists of our times. He was detained in 2011 at Beijing airport, remained in custody for 81 days and was subsequently placed under house arrest. His passport was taken away and returned in 2015. That same year, Amnesty International awarded Ai Weiwei the Ambassador of Conscience Award for his work in defense of human rights and he relocated to Berlin.
Each quote in this book pricks our conscience, makes us feel uncomfortable, and reminds us that our indifference and and lack of action toward other human beings is inhuman.
For example, in the book, the artist is quoted as saying: “Allowing borders to determine your thinking is incompatible with the modern era.”
A powerful statement that is one of many to be found in this thought-provoking read.