Introduction
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3 Introduction Whether bathing in soup or leaving rotten leftovers in museum corners , cooking on oversized stoves in front of gallery visitors, or inviting unfamiliar guests to share homemade meals, these apparently unrelated actions have at least two elements in common: food and art. In fact, they are fundamental components of performative pieces by Janine Antoni, Paul McCarthy, Elżbieta Jabłońska, and Lee Mingwei. The work of these artists offers a taste of the plethora of implications related to art that is focused on food production, processing, and consumption. Food art—a term that we use to define art which uses food as material and process—has been blessed with an impressively positive reception because of its ability to respond to the contemporaneous societal and cultural concerns with food, health, and sustainability. A thorough study of food art depends on a cross-disciplinary perspective , because of the multifaceted incarnations of artworks concerned with food; diverse mediums, modes of participation, as well as commentaries on global and local societies are at play in pieces involving eating and cooking. Our approach is that of two art historians confronting food studies as a challenge,and considering the focus on food as a way to reread some important issues of contemporary art and culture.We would like to guide our readers—not only art historians but also food historians, artists, and philosophers—through a selection of both historicized and contemporary artistic experiences dealing with food. Despite the interdisciplinary range of the contributions included in this volume, our main questions stem from the art historical discourse ,and our point of departure is the subversive role of food within the art system. Artists who choose to incorporate food in their work tend to do so as a way to challenge mainstream expectations. Food art has thus revealed its potential as a form of counterculture.Our use of this term in the present volume’s title and text describes not only the behavioral revolutions of the 1960s and 1970s, but also a superhistorical 4 Introduction­ category, which indicates the intention to break established boundaries by reaching beyond commonly accepted norms. This attitude is already evident in early European avant-gardes like Dadaism and Futurism. Futurist cuisine, in particular, sought to systematically reorganize the eating habits of the whole Italian nation. Since the 1960s, European and North American neo-avantgardes ,among which Fluxus,EatArt,andArte Povera,returned to the incorporation of food in art projects that adopted a confrontational approach.As argued by Cecilia Novero in her seminal book Antidiets of the Avant-Garde,these movements do not programmatically search for a pleasurable experience through taste.1 On the contrary, ingredients might be cacophonously paired, or even provocatively inedible. The artists’ goals range from opening up to nontraditional materials to bridging the distance between art and life in order to critique traditional classifications of art mediums such as painting,sculpture,and architecture. The avant-gardes have legitimized the entrance of food into the realm of art materials, beyond the representation of food as subject matter. In fact, while food as iconography has inhabited still lifes and banquet scenes for centuries, the actual experience of it as sculptural material, as well as the performative acts of eating or processing foods,have become part of the artistic language in the context of the avant-gardes.2 The founder of the Eat Art movement, Daniel Spoerri,maintains that our aesthetic categories need to be challenged, by focusing on cooking and eating as art forms. The traditional hierarchies of the senses have proven obsolete when describing these kinds of performative experiences; the rediscovered sense of taste engenders new means of artistic production both in the private and public spheres. Cuisine reveals its artistic scope if the participants in the cooking-eating experience can free themselves from the visual boundaries of perception;through consumption,food does not vanish but rather changes into something else and even transforms the eater. Thus, in the 1960s and 1970s, not only food art challenged the limits of what was defined as fine art; but it also reinvented the role of the viewers, who became active participants in works of edible art. In addition, food art questioned the identity of the art gallery by founding new spaces for art consumption, as in the case of Allen Ruppersberg’s Al’s Café in Los Angeles (1969) and Gordon Matta- Introduction 5 Clark’s Food in New York City (1971). Furthermore, feminist performance and installation art, like the...