Chapter 11. Artists and Friends: Daniel Spoerri’s Eat Art Gallery
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part IV  Eating Out Food Art in the Public Sphere 191 Chapter 11 Artists and Friends Daniel Spoerri’s Eat Art Gallery Cecilia Novero Eat Art came officially into being when Daniel Spoerri opened his gallery in Düsseldorf in 1970. The gallery was to accompany the Spoerri Restaurant, an enterprise he had begun earlier, in 1968, and the idea of which Spoerri had had while abroad, during his stay on the Greek island of Symi (1966–1967).Similarly,the English label“Eat Art Gallery” was conceived abroad, this time during his stay in New York in the early sixties.1 Although the entrepreneurial experiment was short lived—Spoerri left the restaurant to Carlo Schröter in 1971— Eat Art as artistic phenomenon continued beyond these locales and beyond these years, as its revival in recent times demonstrates.2 At the Eat Art Gallery, a great number of Spoerri’s friends and artists exhibited their food multiples. Among the most notorious were Joseph Beuys and Dieter Roth. The latter especially had produced and continued to produce food multiples also independently of the Eat Art project.At the Eat Art Gallery, Roth exhibited, to name one work, his 1968 Portrait of the Artist as Birdseed Bust (Portrait of the Artist as Vogelfutterbüste). Roth identified this work by the acronym P.O.TH.A.A.VFB (more on this later). Besides Beuys and Roth, alsoArman,César,Robert Filliou,André Thomkins,Roy Licthenstein, Richard Lindner, Ben Vautier, and George Brecht participated in the project and showed at Spoerri’s gallery.Each produced multiple works of one hundred copies.César,for example,proposed a series of“sugar thumbs.”Lindner baked a gigantic edible pop artwork,The Blue Bosom Angel (Der Blaue Busenengel).Among the happenings,Vautier went on 192 Eating Out a“hunger-strike”: he sat in a box without food for twenty-four hours, and Beuys concocted an elaborate display of herring fish bones as “good” edible food, rather than garbage. The most memorable action according to participants was Claude and François Lalanne’s Dîner Cannibale. Beuys and the couple Antoni Miralda and Dorothée Selz, like Roth,had consistently used food to make their art.Beuys,for example, had focused on the energy quality of a few ingredients, such as fat and honey,while Miralda and Selz concentrated on shocking,artificial coloring.3 Unlike these artists who were quite accustomed to food as material, some of the featured artists at the gallery, for example, Arman, César, and Lichtenstein, were not used to execute artworks with food. Yet they responded enthusiastically to Spoerri’s suggestion that they contribute to the Eat Art Gallery. Those who agreed to collaborate with Spoerri thought that the material of food would match perfectly the principles that governed their regular artwork.For example, César saw sugar well suited for his expansions, ordinarily made of polyurethane. For Arman to be able to create food accumulations meant that his work with waste would come full circle. At the Eat Art Gallery the works exhibited were tested against the consumers’ taste buds and by ways of the stomach (at least some of them were), not just against the distant eyesight. Eat Art and the food-multiples take viscerally—and literally—the notion of art experience ,which,in the case of in/edible art,may be body-changing (even threatening). Miralda and Selz remember, for instance, that the visitors /consumers told them with excitement how,after eating their colorful food,they urinated in color.These artists’experiment/experience carried out almost literally Dada’s early theatrical provocations. For the post-aesthetic experience to matter, in the sixties and seventies, the food artists stress,it has to involve the whole body,both that of the artist and that of the viewer/consumer.EatArt not only operates as an action (like performance art or body art) but also exposes art and the artistic experience to physical transactions.With Eat Art, individuals take the risk to“incorporate”in/edible art physically as well as intellectually .In other words,if individuals agree to engage art—and in order to do so they must go all the way, namely, eat it—they also accept the eventuality of being poisoned, and the possibility of finding in art an Artists and Friends 193 uncanny sensual dis/pleasure. They also risk remaining unmoved by the intake of food art. Among the exhibitions at the Eat Art Gallery that took it upon themselves to...