Chapter 6. In & On: Herbs, Fish, and Janine Antoni’s Touch
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107 Chapter 6 In & On Herbs, Fish, and Janine Antoni’s Touch Silvia Bottinelli Dinner came with a holistic experience at the New York restaurant Park Avenue Summer,between June 11 and September 4,2011.1 Diners were invited to try out body care products made from the same ingredients used for the dishes in the menu. Coffee grounds, lemon balm, lavender,peach,among many others,were to be found in the food and the soaks, mists, and scrubs offered to the costumers. Artist Janine Antoni (Freeport, Bahamas, 1964), in partnership with chef Kevin Lasko and horticulturalist Rachel Budde, founder of the organic body care line Fat and the Moon, developed the concept . It was Meredith Johnson, a curator at Creative Time New York, who commissioned the piece as part of a series of events that fostered collaborations between chef Lasko and a selection of visual artists. Johnson describes the genesis of the project as follows: We were approached by the restaurant (Fourth Wall’s Park Avenue) to advise on and propose artist projects in the dining area itself.In considering the nature of the space,and its seasonal reinvention four times a year, I immediately thought this was a great opportunity for artists to get involved in a direct collaboration with the chef and think holistically about the full experience between food and the context of seasonality. Food and art obviously have a long history, and there was a great opportunity here to get the artists directly in the kitchen to impact the diners’ experience both visually and viscerally2 . 108 Food Art The curator invited Marina Abramović, Paul Ramírez Jonas, Janine Antoni, and Michael Rakowitz to participate. These artists “had a background in dealing with issues around eating, experiencing, or sharing food. All had done past projects on food, and had practices that are tied to the experience of the viewer/participant.”3 The fact that Fourth Wall, the chain of restaurants that owned Park Avenue among other businesses, referred to Creative Time for consultation about a public art event is not surprising. Creative Time has been a point of reference in the discourse of public interventions in NewYork City,and elsewhere,since the early 1970s.Patricia Phillips discusses the role of this organization in experimenting with public art in the form of temporary projects.According to her,the ephemerality of the pieces coordinated by Creative Time allows the artists to respond to issues that are actually relevant to the community at a specific time; the intervention is not destined to become obsolete like permanent public monuments.4 Public concerns with food are certainly rampant in the early twenty-first century and Creative Time’s interest in this subject appears to be coherent with its mission.The four pieces generated for Park Avenue Summer are site specific. They respond to the nature of the site discursively: the restaurant, which completely redesigns its menu and interior each season,functions as a signifier of seasonality, as well as conviviality, creativity, and sensoriality.5 Janine Antoni’s piece for Park Avenue, titled In & On, contributes to the discourse of food and eating in the contemporary world, addressing a number of aspects.Utilizing only seasonal ingredients,the artist connects to the main theme of the restaurant. Letting the viewers touch the raw ingredients, incorporated in sculpturally beautiful centerpieces,she allows them to experience the materials beyond taste and ingestion. The underlying argument of In & On is, in fact, that we should be able to put on our bodies what we put in them. Hence the title of the participatory project.Antoni spells this principle out in an artist book printed in limited edition, as a component of the piece: Our skin—a porous membrane that separates the inside of our bodies from the outer world—eats, breathes and filters in both directions. We experience this organ differently than we experience our orifices; and through In & On our sensory portals In & On 109 come into closer relationship with each other through texture, smell and taste.6 At the opening, the public could dive into a multisensorial experience (Plate 6.1). This is a taste of what they could enjoy: Siren’s breath, a cocktail mix with lemon balm, peach, may chang essential oil, hot water, black tea leaves, cucumber vodka, cucumber, sugar, and lemon juice; the cocktail was paralleled by a mist made out of lemon balm,peach,may chang essential oil, hot water, and black tea leaves. As a starter, diners were offered Scales and Skin (Plate 6...