Antidiets of the Avant-Garde: From Futurist Cooking to Eat Art
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Discussing an aspect of the European avant-garde that has often been neglected-its relationship to the embodied experience of food, its sensation, and its consumption-Cecilia Novero exposes the surprisingly key roles that food plays in the theoretical foundations and material aesthetics of a broad stratum of works ranging from the Italian Futurist Cookbook to the magazine Dada, Walter Benjamin's writings on eating and cooking, Daniel Spoerri's Eat Art, and the French New Realists.
Starting from the premise that avant-garde art involves the questioning of bourgeois aesthetics, Novero demonstrates that avant-garde artists, writers, and performers have produced an oppositional aesthetics of indigestible art. Through the rhetoric of incorporation and consumption and the use of material ingredients in their work, she shows, avant-garde artists active in the 1920s and 1930s as well as the neo-avant-garde movements engaged critically with consumer culture, memory, and history.
Attention to food in avant-garde aesthetics, Novero asserts, reveals how these works are rooted in a complex temporality that associates memory and consumption with dynamics of change.
Futurism, during which the subject throws itself in the mouth of death only to savor thereby the power of life. Once the car rolls into the ditch, Marinetti is in turn thrown to the ground, and avidly tastes the muddy water mixed with grease and gas, a fortifying concoction that in the throngs of trauma brings back memories from his nursing days in Egypt. Unlike the madeleine that unravels the past in Proust’s memoirs, Marinetti’s black milk of childhood returns as metamorphosed substance. He
tears it away from “the causal connections established in time” (“Experience,” 2: 553) and places it in a material and temporal constellation that “actualizes” it. The unusual circumstances and foreign food, language, and place in which the narrator eats disclose eating –– an everyday occurrence –– as a potential act of profane communion with the object as other. Similarly, the Odyssey appears in an alien context as erupting from the body’s recesses. Eating the soup comes as a break, an
as both familiar (everyday) and impenetrable (foreign) (Selected Writings, 2: 210, 216). Benjamin’s Porous Avant-Garde Food For Benjamin, Kafka was the writer of dialectical fairy tales, stories in which the world of swampy creatures metamorphoses itself and oblivion into the labors of study (learning), wakefulness, and attentiveness. For Benjamin, too, Baudelaire dissociated true historical experience in two antithetical moments: that of an anterior time or prehistory walter ben j a mi n ’ s
the same manner that temporalities of before and after, causes and effects, are questioned.21 In the remaining pages of this introduction I offer the example of an early avant-garde antidiet as symptomatic of the more explicit antidiets examined in this book. I introduction xxiii turn in particular to Picasso’s and Georges Braque’s cubism to lay out some of the grounds at the bottom of the in/edibility of the avant-garde works that followed cubism and also distanced themselves from this
in their conception, I focus more generally on Eat Art’s archaeology, including the Restaurant Galleries. After the foodmultiples, in which food-multiplication (or in Deleuze and Guattari’s words, proliferation) ﬁnds yet other manifestations, and after Spoerri’s Restaurant and Eat Art Gallery, I then take up Eat Art proper. However, since Eat Art deﬁes a chronological reconstruction of its spiraling events, the next sections all attempt to break with any linear account. Spoerri’s