topic

Food ways

"Tell me what you eat, and I shall tell you what you are."  -- Brillat-Savarin

 

"For what is food? It is not only a collection of products that can be used for statistical or nutritional studies. It is also, and at the same time, a system of communication, a body of images, a protocol of usages, situations, and behavior. ... When he buys an item of food, consumes it, or serves it, modern man does not manipulate a simple object in a purely transitive fashion; this item of food sums up and transmits a situation; it constitutes an information; it signifies." -- Roland Barthes, "Toward a Psychosociology of Contemporary Food Consumption" (1961)

False Food (F-339)

Jerry Takigawa

2011 Photograph 19 in. x 13.25 in. Courtesy of the artist.

contributor

X

Jerry Takigawa

b. 1945

Photographer and graphic designer Jerry Takigawa has been a social and environmental advocate since 1969. With forty years of practice in photography and design, he believes aesthetics is an essential element in storytelling. Takigawa received a B.F.A., with an emphasis in painting, from San Francisco State University in 1967. He studied photography under Don Worth. While living in the San Francisco Bay Area, he utilized his art and design skills to help develop a pilot VISTA program (Volunteers in Service to America) in Oakland, California. In 1982, he became the first photographer to receive the Imogen Cunningham Award for color photography. Takigawa is a past-president of People in Communications Arts (PiCA), a trustee for the Monterey Museum of Art, and currently serves as President for the Center for Photographic Art (CPA).

Currently, Takigawa is spearheading a shift in the Center for Photographic Arts’ position. This shift can be described as nuturing the personal growth inherent in art making and celebrating the artists’ creative contribution to the community. CPA seeks to instill the importance and awareness of personal development, how it intersects with artistic development in a cyclical fashion and the purpose and importance of art in the social discourse.

His beliefs in the power of visual communication and new ways of thinking are developed in Idea Soup (2009), Many Hats (2011), and Grace in Uncertainty (2013).

Takigawa’s work is in the permanent collection of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Santa Barbara Museum of Art, the Brooklyn Museum of Art, the Crocker Art Museum in Sacramento, CA, the Library of Congress in Washington, DC, the Monterey Museum of Art, The San Francisco Foundation, the University of Louisville, The Monterey Vineyard, Community Hospital of the Monterey Peninsula, the Imogen Cunningham Trust, and the Monterey Bay Aquarium.

Upcoming solo exhibitions include Green Chalk Contemporary, False Food, Monterey, CA; The Pacific Grove Art Center, Landscapes of Presence, Pacific Grove CA; and The Griffin Museum of Photography, False Food, Winchester MA in 2015.

False Food: A Metaphor for Survival

The volunteer from the Monterey Bay Aquarium held up a jar for the television audience to see. The jar was filled with colorful pieces of plastic collected from the belly of a dead albatross on Midway Atoll. Mistaking plastic debris for food in the Pacific Gyre has become a common occurrence, resulting in the death of countless albatross each year. Deceived by “empty calories,” the adult albatross feed their chicks harmful plastic, resulting in the same fatal outcome.

When it comes to plastic, the biggest “landfill” isn’t on land but in our oceans—and if our oceans are in trouble, we’re in trouble. Gyres of plastic dangerously impact the food chain. Unlike organic debris, plastic does not biodegrade. It eventually degrades into smaller and smaller particles until it becomes a soup of molecular plastic. At this size, these molecules enter the food chain and we inadvertently become the albatross. We live in a disposable consumer society. What we throw away we ultimately consume.

In western society, we tend to mistake the excessive consumption of material goods for sustenance. Plastic is often designed for “single-use,” but, by nature, every molecule ever developed is still with us today. My intent as a photographer is for my work to be engaging and nourishing. My goal is to inspire viewers to look more deeply. A good photograph can compel the viewer to want to know the narrative. Negative images can cause people to feel helpless and overwhelmed; responding from the reptilian brain, where clear and ethical thinking is not possible. In contrast, I believe aesthetics allows the viewer to become engaged with the narrative.

How can we learn to live with chaos and turn it into something beautiful, sustainable, and nourishing? This is a query worth resolution. The transformation of plastic waste in False Food is not only an act of defiance; it’s an act of inspiration. If we want to change what we recoil from, we must consider the consciousness that has created what we see. False Food seeks to redeem hope, beauty, and nourishment.

Special thanks to the Monterey Bay Aquarium for generously providing the plastic artifacts used in making these images.

location

X
  • Born: Chicago, IL, USA
  • Based: Carmel Valley, CA, USA

comments

X

False Food (F-341)

Jerry Takigawa

2014 Photograph 19 in. x 13.25 in. Courtesy of the artist.

contributor

X

Jerry Takigawa

b. 1945

Photographer and graphic designer Jerry Takigawa has been a social and environmental advocate since 1969. With forty years of practice in photography and design, he believes aesthetics is an essential element in storytelling. Takigawa received a B.F.A., with an emphasis in painting, from San Francisco State University in 1967. He studied photography under Don Worth. While living in the San Francisco Bay Area, he utilized his art and design skills to help develop a pilot VISTA program (Volunteers in Service to America) in Oakland, California. In 1982, he became the first photographer to receive the Imogen Cunningham Award for color photography. Takigawa is a past-president of People in Communications Arts (PiCA), a trustee for the Monterey Museum of Art, and currently serves as President for the Center for Photographic Art (CPA).

Currently, Takigawa is spearheading a shift in the Center for Photographic Arts’ position. This shift can be described as nuturing the personal growth inherent in art making and celebrating the artists’ creative contribution to the community. CPA seeks to instill the importance and awareness of personal development, how it intersects with artistic development in a cyclical fashion and the purpose and importance of art in the social discourse.

His beliefs in the power of visual communication and new ways of thinking are developed in Idea Soup (2009), Many Hats (2011), and Grace in Uncertainty (2013).

Takigawa’s work is in the permanent collection of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Santa Barbara Museum of Art, the Brooklyn Museum of Art, the Crocker Art Museum in Sacramento, CA, the Library of Congress in Washington, DC, the Monterey Museum of Art, The San Francisco Foundation, the University of Louisville, The Monterey Vineyard, Community Hospital of the Monterey Peninsula, the Imogen Cunningham Trust, and the Monterey Bay Aquarium.

Upcoming solo exhibitions include Green Chalk Contemporary, False Food, Monterey, CA; The Pacific Grove Art Center, Landscapes of Presence, Pacific Grove CA; and The Griffin Museum of Photography, False Food, Winchester MA in 2015.

False Food: A Metaphor for Survival

The volunteer from the Monterey Bay Aquarium held up a jar for the television audience to see. The jar was filled with colorful pieces of plastic collected from the belly of a dead albatross on Midway Atoll. Mistaking plastic debris for food in the Pacific Gyre has become a common occurrence, resulting in the death of countless albatross each year. Deceived by “empty calories,” the adult albatross feed their chicks harmful plastic, resulting in the same fatal outcome.

When it comes to plastic, the biggest “landfill” isn’t on land but in our oceans—and if our oceans are in trouble, we’re in trouble. Gyres of plastic dangerously impact the food chain. Unlike organic debris, plastic does not biodegrade. It eventually degrades into smaller and smaller particles until it becomes a soup of molecular plastic. At this size, these molecules enter the food chain and we inadvertently become the albatross. We live in a disposable consumer society. What we throw away we ultimately consume.

In western society, we tend to mistake the excessive consumption of material goods for sustenance. Plastic is often designed for “single-use,” but, by nature, every molecule ever developed is still with us today. My intent as a photographer is for my work to be engaging and nourishing. My goal is to inspire viewers to look more deeply. A good photograph can compel the viewer to want to know the narrative. Negative images can cause people to feel helpless and overwhelmed; responding from the reptilian brain, where clear and ethical thinking is not possible. In contrast, I believe aesthetics allows the viewer to become engaged with the narrative.

How can we learn to live with chaos and turn it into something beautiful, sustainable, and nourishing? This is a query worth resolution. The transformation of plastic waste in False Food is not only an act of defiance; it’s an act of inspiration. If we want to change what we recoil from, we must consider the consciousness that has created what we see. False Food seeks to redeem hope, beauty, and nourishment.

Special thanks to the Monterey Bay Aquarium for generously providing the plastic artifacts used in making these images.

location

X
  • Born: Chicago, IL, USA
  • Based: Carmel Valley, CA, USA

comments

X

False Food (F-342)

Jerry Takigawa

2014 Photograph 19 in. x 13.25 in. Courtesy of the artist.

contributor

X

Jerry Takigawa

b. 1945

Photographer and graphic designer Jerry Takigawa has been a social and environmental advocate since 1969. With forty years of practice in photography and design, he believes aesthetics is an essential element in storytelling. Takigawa received a B.F.A., with an emphasis in painting, from San Francisco State University in 1967. He studied photography under Don Worth. While living in the San Francisco Bay Area, he utilized his art and design skills to help develop a pilot VISTA program (Volunteers in Service to America) in Oakland, California. In 1982, he became the first photographer to receive the Imogen Cunningham Award for color photography. Takigawa is a past-president of People in Communications Arts (PiCA), a trustee for the Monterey Museum of Art, and currently serves as President for the Center for Photographic Art (CPA).

Currently, Takigawa is spearheading a shift in the Center for Photographic Arts’ position. This shift can be described as nuturing the personal growth inherent in art making and celebrating the artists’ creative contribution to the community. CPA seeks to instill the importance and awareness of personal development, how it intersects with artistic development in a cyclical fashion and the purpose and importance of art in the social discourse.

His beliefs in the power of visual communication and new ways of thinking are developed in Idea Soup (2009), Many Hats (2011), and Grace in Uncertainty (2013).

Takigawa’s work is in the permanent collection of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Santa Barbara Museum of Art, the Brooklyn Museum of Art, the Crocker Art Museum in Sacramento, CA, the Library of Congress in Washington, DC, the Monterey Museum of Art, The San Francisco Foundation, the University of Louisville, The Monterey Vineyard, Community Hospital of the Monterey Peninsula, the Imogen Cunningham Trust, and the Monterey Bay Aquarium.

Upcoming solo exhibitions include Green Chalk Contemporary, False Food, Monterey, CA; The Pacific Grove Art Center, Landscapes of Presence, Pacific Grove CA; and The Griffin Museum of Photography, False Food, Winchester MA in 2015.

False Food: A Metaphor for Survival

The volunteer from the Monterey Bay Aquarium held up a jar for the television audience to see. The jar was filled with colorful pieces of plastic collected from the belly of a dead albatross on Midway Atoll. Mistaking plastic debris for food in the Pacific Gyre has become a common occurrence, resulting in the death of countless albatross each year. Deceived by “empty calories,” the adult albatross feed their chicks harmful plastic, resulting in the same fatal outcome.

When it comes to plastic, the biggest “landfill” isn’t on land but in our oceans—and if our oceans are in trouble, we’re in trouble. Gyres of plastic dangerously impact the food chain. Unlike organic debris, plastic does not biodegrade. It eventually degrades into smaller and smaller particles until it becomes a soup of molecular plastic. At this size, these molecules enter the food chain and we inadvertently become the albatross. We live in a disposable consumer society. What we throw away we ultimately consume.

In western society, we tend to mistake the excessive consumption of material goods for sustenance. Plastic is often designed for “single-use,” but, by nature, every molecule ever developed is still with us today. My intent as a photographer is for my work to be engaging and nourishing. My goal is to inspire viewers to look more deeply. A good photograph can compel the viewer to want to know the narrative. Negative images can cause people to feel helpless and overwhelmed; responding from the reptilian brain, where clear and ethical thinking is not possible. In contrast, I believe aesthetics allows the viewer to become engaged with the narrative.

How can we learn to live with chaos and turn it into something beautiful, sustainable, and nourishing? This is a query worth resolution. The transformation of plastic waste in False Food is not only an act of defiance; it’s an act of inspiration. If we want to change what we recoil from, we must consider the consciousness that has created what we see. False Food seeks to redeem hope, beauty, and nourishment.

Special thanks to the Monterey Bay Aquarium for generously providing the plastic artifacts used in making these images.

location

X
  • Born: Chicago, IL, USA
  • Based: Carmel Valley, CA, USA

comments

X

Immigrant Lives and the Politics of Olfaction in the Global City

Martin F. Manalansan IV

2006 Criticism. 11 pages. Courtesy of Bloomsbury Academic Press.

The Smell Culture Reader (ed. Jim Drobnick), p.41-52.

contributor

X

Martin F. Manalansan IV

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  • See All Works

Born and raised in the Philippines, Manalansan studied philosophy and anthropology at the University of the Philippines and did graduate studies in sociocultural anthropology at Syracuse University and the University of Rochester, both in New York State. He is an Associate Professor of Anthropology and Asian American Studies at the University of Illinois, Urbana Champaign, and he lives in the windy city of Chicago. 

Interested in the intersection of media, popular culture, everyday life, emotions, and forms of bodily experiences, he enjoys the freedom of tenure by indulging in broad undisciplined pedagogical pursuits and research trajectories.  From food to queer issues, urban space to movies, his shifting archives reflect his non-allegiance to disciplinary concerns, although he maintains a deep seated and long-standing admiration for and dedication to the ethnographic method.

He is the author of Global Divas: Filipino Gay Men in the Diaspora (Duke University Press, 2003; Ateneo University Press 2006) and editor or co-editor of four anthologies, most recently Eating Asian America: A Food Studies Reader (New York University Press, 2013), as well as several journal special issues. His forthcoming book entitled Queer Dwellings examines the affective landscapes, ethical lives, and embodied experiences of undocumented queer immigrants living under precarious conditions. The enduring issues that animate and fuel his intellectual pursuits include social justice, embodiment, quotidian life, ordinary meanings, modes of desire and habitation.

While based in the Midwest, Manalansan maintains emotional and intellectual ties to two other cities: New York and Manila. One day, he hopes to find himself in a position to be able to live in both cities at different times of the year. In the meantime, he is content to question, marvel and ironically enjoy the fictions and myths of the American heartland.

location

X
  • Born: The Philippines
  • Based: Chicago, IL, USA

comments

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To Curry Favor

Sita Kuratomi Bhaumik

2011 Curry powder from Oasis Food Market in Oakland, CA on gallery wall. Courtesy of the artist. Begovich Gallery, California State University, Fullerton

contributor

X

Sita Kuratomi Bhaumik

b. 1981
image description
  • See All Works
  • visit website

Sita Kuratomi Bhaumik is conceptual artist working with craft and food to tell the stories of migration. Sita holds a B.A. in Studio Art from Scripps College, and an M.F.A. in interdisciplinary art and an M.A. in Visual and Critical Studies from California College of the Arts. Raised in Los Angeles and based in Oakland, she is Indian and Japanese Colombian American. Sita has exhibited and collaborated in the US, Holland, Ireland, Hong Kong, and Mexico. Her projects include installing curry powder in a European castle, importing artisan goods over the US-Mexico border, and leading workshops about food, migration, and memory in Hong Kong. Her most recent project, Estamos contra el muro | We are against the wall, involved the collaborative construction of a border wall made entirely of piñatas. The East Bay Express described it as "the most joyous political critique of the year."
 
Sita is also a co-founder of the People's Kitchen Collective (PKC), who were named in 2016's Yerba Buena Center for the Arts’ YBCA 100 list. They are recipients of the Center for Asian American Media’s (CAAM) Advocate Award and were awarded support by the Kenneth Rainin Foundation Open Spaces Program. PKC recently exhibited with For Freedoms, the first artist-run super PAC at Jack Shainman Gallery in New York and at the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center's Crosslines pop-up museum. The goal of The People's Kitchen is to not only fill our stomachs but also nourish our souls, feed our minds and fuel a movement.
 
See also peopleskitchencollective.com.

Photo credit: Rachyel Magana



 

For the Love/Hate of Curry

A golden, aromatic spice blend that is prized by some and reviled by others, curry powder is a polarizing substance. Over the past five years I have used it as a dye, perfume, and pigment in my art practice. But I rarely eat the bottled stuff.

What, exactly, is curry? It is a delicious dish and an inadequate word. As food historian Thy Tran once told me, it is a word that falls short because it attempts to use the language of the colonizer to describe the many foods of the colonized. The first reference to curry powder was published in Mrs. Beeton’s Book of Household Management (1961), a book to aid British housewives in the particulars of maintaining a proper home in the colonies. I began to trace my own history through an alternative spice route. Being Indian and Japanese Colombian American, we ate curry all the time in our house. Indian cooks don’t usually use curry powder--but my mother, who is Colombian-born Japanese, made the kind that came out of a box. She mixed it with chicken, carrots and potatoes to create one of my favorite meals (coincidentally, the most popular brand of curry powder happens to be my initials, “S&B” and so I took it as a sign that I was meant to work with the material). Why does Japan’s #1 dish come from a package? Japan was introduced to curry by the British who made a roux of flour and fat with the spice blend. The Indian varieties? Those were more difficult to define. My father is from a small village outside of Kolkata. I still have no idea what is and isn’t a “curry.” Neither does my family. It’s just food in sauce – but it’s so much more.

After my first installation with curry powder in 2008, I searched the phrase “smells like curry” online. I suppose I expected to find a racist joke or two and a few recipes. Instead, I found thousands of entries referring to the way Indian people smelled. The one I will always remember was a posting on Yahoo! Answers:

Q: Help, my neighbor’s house smells like curry.
A: Call the INS.

I became obsessed with this anonymous entry. For the first time I realized that race is constructed by more than what we see.

Over the next few years I sprinkled curry powder through the streets of Oakland, opened a Curry Institute (2011) at Whitman College, where visitors could chart their own Curry Cartography, and worked with perfumer Yosh Han to create a curry perfume called Gilt (2010) just because I wanted everyone to have the right to smell like curry. Eventually the spice pieces made their way onto the walls themselves.

Although my ingredients span the globe, I always source my materials from family-owned businesses. I had been purchasing ingredients from Bombay Bazaar, a hidden grocery store that had closed and re-opened in San Francisco’s wildly gentrifying Mission district. The last time I went in to say hello, the store had disappeared. Shelves, fluorescent lighting, and all. It is with the last batch of spices purchased at this shop that I created Dear Indian Grocery Store both in the bathroom of 18 Reasons in San Francisco and at the San Jose Museum of Art in November 2013. Feeling yet another loss in a city I recognize less and less, I wrote an open letter to the grocery store. This letter always accompanies the installation. As with my previous installations, the excess curry powder collected from the installation will be used to dye napkins and tablecloths for a sliding-scale community dinner. The curry powder is reserved for the art - it is rarely used in the cooking of the meal.

Most Indian cooks would never be caught with curry powder in their kitchens - it limits the complexity and variety of a dish. This powder is India concentrate. This is the myth we expect in Indian supermarkets, restaurants, and, yes, even people. But this complicated blend has also been transformed into the unique flavors of comfort all over the world.

location

X
  • Born: Los Angeles, CA, USA
  • Based: Oakland, CA, USA

comments

X

Dear Indian Grocery Store under the Freeway

Sita Kuratomi Bhaumik

2013 Turmeric and cardamom on paper, mehendi stencils, paint, text. Variable dimensions. Courtesy of the artist.

contributor

X

Sita Kuratomi Bhaumik

b. 1981
image description
  • See All Works
  • visit website

Sita Kuratomi Bhaumik is conceptual artist working with craft and food to tell the stories of migration. Sita holds a B.A. in Studio Art from Scripps College, and an M.F.A. in interdisciplinary art and an M.A. in Visual and Critical Studies from California College of the Arts. Raised in Los Angeles and based in Oakland, she is Indian and Japanese Colombian American. Sita has exhibited and collaborated in the US, Holland, Ireland, Hong Kong, and Mexico. Her projects include installing curry powder in a European castle, importing artisan goods over the US-Mexico border, and leading workshops about food, migration, and memory in Hong Kong. Her most recent project, Estamos contra el muro | We are against the wall, involved the collaborative construction of a border wall made entirely of piñatas. The East Bay Express described it as "the most joyous political critique of the year."
 
Sita is also a co-founder of the People's Kitchen Collective (PKC), who were named in 2016's Yerba Buena Center for the Arts’ YBCA 100 list. They are recipients of the Center for Asian American Media’s (CAAM) Advocate Award and were awarded support by the Kenneth Rainin Foundation Open Spaces Program. PKC recently exhibited with For Freedoms, the first artist-run super PAC at Jack Shainman Gallery in New York and at the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center's Crosslines pop-up museum. The goal of The People's Kitchen is to not only fill our stomachs but also nourish our souls, feed our minds and fuel a movement.
 
See also peopleskitchencollective.com.

Photo credit: Rachyel Magana



 

For the Love/Hate of Curry

A golden, aromatic spice blend that is prized by some and reviled by others, curry powder is a polarizing substance. Over the past five years I have used it as a dye, perfume, and pigment in my art practice. But I rarely eat the bottled stuff.

What, exactly, is curry? It is a delicious dish and an inadequate word. As food historian Thy Tran once told me, it is a word that falls short because it attempts to use the language of the colonizer to describe the many foods of the colonized. The first reference to curry powder was published in Mrs. Beeton’s Book of Household Management (1961), a book to aid British housewives in the particulars of maintaining a proper home in the colonies. I began to trace my own history through an alternative spice route. Being Indian and Japanese Colombian American, we ate curry all the time in our house. Indian cooks don’t usually use curry powder--but my mother, who is Colombian-born Japanese, made the kind that came out of a box. She mixed it with chicken, carrots and potatoes to create one of my favorite meals (coincidentally, the most popular brand of curry powder happens to be my initials, “S&B” and so I took it as a sign that I was meant to work with the material). Why does Japan’s #1 dish come from a package? Japan was introduced to curry by the British who made a roux of flour and fat with the spice blend. The Indian varieties? Those were more difficult to define. My father is from a small village outside of Kolkata. I still have no idea what is and isn’t a “curry.” Neither does my family. It’s just food in sauce – but it’s so much more.

After my first installation with curry powder in 2008, I searched the phrase “smells like curry” online. I suppose I expected to find a racist joke or two and a few recipes. Instead, I found thousands of entries referring to the way Indian people smelled. The one I will always remember was a posting on Yahoo! Answers:

Q: Help, my neighbor’s house smells like curry.
A: Call the INS.

I became obsessed with this anonymous entry. For the first time I realized that race is constructed by more than what we see.

Over the next few years I sprinkled curry powder through the streets of Oakland, opened a Curry Institute (2011) at Whitman College, where visitors could chart their own Curry Cartography, and worked with perfumer Yosh Han to create a curry perfume called Gilt (2010) just because I wanted everyone to have the right to smell like curry. Eventually the spice pieces made their way onto the walls themselves.

Although my ingredients span the globe, I always source my materials from family-owned businesses. I had been purchasing ingredients from Bombay Bazaar, a hidden grocery store that had closed and re-opened in San Francisco’s wildly gentrifying Mission district. The last time I went in to say hello, the store had disappeared. Shelves, fluorescent lighting, and all. It is with the last batch of spices purchased at this shop that I created Dear Indian Grocery Store both in the bathroom of 18 Reasons in San Francisco and at the San Jose Museum of Art in November 2013. Feeling yet another loss in a city I recognize less and less, I wrote an open letter to the grocery store. This letter always accompanies the installation. As with my previous installations, the excess curry powder collected from the installation will be used to dye napkins and tablecloths for a sliding-scale community dinner. The curry powder is reserved for the art - it is rarely used in the cooking of the meal.

Most Indian cooks would never be caught with curry powder in their kitchens - it limits the complexity and variety of a dish. This powder is India concentrate. This is the myth we expect in Indian supermarkets, restaurants, and, yes, even people. But this complicated blend has also been transformed into the unique flavors of comfort all over the world.

location

X
  • Born: Los Angeles, CA, USA
  • Based: Oakland, CA, USA

comments

X

Dear Indian Grocery Store under the Freeway

Sita Kuratomi Bhaumik

2013 Turmeric and cardamom on paper, mehendi stencils, paint, text. Variable dimensions. Courtesy of the artist.

contributor

X

Sita Kuratomi Bhaumik

b. 1981
image description
  • See All Works
  • visit website

Sita Kuratomi Bhaumik is conceptual artist working with craft and food to tell the stories of migration. Sita holds a B.A. in Studio Art from Scripps College, and an M.F.A. in interdisciplinary art and an M.A. in Visual and Critical Studies from California College of the Arts. Raised in Los Angeles and based in Oakland, she is Indian and Japanese Colombian American. Sita has exhibited and collaborated in the US, Holland, Ireland, Hong Kong, and Mexico. Her projects include installing curry powder in a European castle, importing artisan goods over the US-Mexico border, and leading workshops about food, migration, and memory in Hong Kong. Her most recent project, Estamos contra el muro | We are against the wall, involved the collaborative construction of a border wall made entirely of piñatas. The East Bay Express described it as "the most joyous political critique of the year."
 
Sita is also a co-founder of the People's Kitchen Collective (PKC), who were named in 2016's Yerba Buena Center for the Arts’ YBCA 100 list. They are recipients of the Center for Asian American Media’s (CAAM) Advocate Award and were awarded support by the Kenneth Rainin Foundation Open Spaces Program. PKC recently exhibited with For Freedoms, the first artist-run super PAC at Jack Shainman Gallery in New York and at the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center's Crosslines pop-up museum. The goal of The People's Kitchen is to not only fill our stomachs but also nourish our souls, feed our minds and fuel a movement.
 
See also peopleskitchencollective.com.

Photo credit: Rachyel Magana



 

For the Love/Hate of Curry

A golden, aromatic spice blend that is prized by some and reviled by others, curry powder is a polarizing substance. Over the past five years I have used it as a dye, perfume, and pigment in my art practice. But I rarely eat the bottled stuff.

What, exactly, is curry? It is a delicious dish and an inadequate word. As food historian Thy Tran once told me, it is a word that falls short because it attempts to use the language of the colonizer to describe the many foods of the colonized. The first reference to curry powder was published in Mrs. Beeton’s Book of Household Management (1961), a book to aid British housewives in the particulars of maintaining a proper home in the colonies. I began to trace my own history through an alternative spice route. Being Indian and Japanese Colombian American, we ate curry all the time in our house. Indian cooks don’t usually use curry powder--but my mother, who is Colombian-born Japanese, made the kind that came out of a box. She mixed it with chicken, carrots and potatoes to create one of my favorite meals (coincidentally, the most popular brand of curry powder happens to be my initials, “S&B” and so I took it as a sign that I was meant to work with the material). Why does Japan’s #1 dish come from a package? Japan was introduced to curry by the British who made a roux of flour and fat with the spice blend. The Indian varieties? Those were more difficult to define. My father is from a small village outside of Kolkata. I still have no idea what is and isn’t a “curry.” Neither does my family. It’s just food in sauce – but it’s so much more.

After my first installation with curry powder in 2008, I searched the phrase “smells like curry” online. I suppose I expected to find a racist joke or two and a few recipes. Instead, I found thousands of entries referring to the way Indian people smelled. The one I will always remember was a posting on Yahoo! Answers:

Q: Help, my neighbor’s house smells like curry.
A: Call the INS.

I became obsessed with this anonymous entry. For the first time I realized that race is constructed by more than what we see.

Over the next few years I sprinkled curry powder through the streets of Oakland, opened a Curry Institute (2011) at Whitman College, where visitors could chart their own Curry Cartography, and worked with perfumer Yosh Han to create a curry perfume called Gilt (2010) just because I wanted everyone to have the right to smell like curry. Eventually the spice pieces made their way onto the walls themselves.

Although my ingredients span the globe, I always source my materials from family-owned businesses. I had been purchasing ingredients from Bombay Bazaar, a hidden grocery store that had closed and re-opened in San Francisco’s wildly gentrifying Mission district. The last time I went in to say hello, the store had disappeared. Shelves, fluorescent lighting, and all. It is with the last batch of spices purchased at this shop that I created Dear Indian Grocery Store both in the bathroom of 18 Reasons in San Francisco and at the San Jose Museum of Art in November 2013. Feeling yet another loss in a city I recognize less and less, I wrote an open letter to the grocery store. This letter always accompanies the installation. As with my previous installations, the excess curry powder collected from the installation will be used to dye napkins and tablecloths for a sliding-scale community dinner. The curry powder is reserved for the art - it is rarely used in the cooking of the meal.

Most Indian cooks would never be caught with curry powder in their kitchens - it limits the complexity and variety of a dish. This powder is India concentrate. This is the myth we expect in Indian supermarkets, restaurants, and, yes, even people. But this complicated blend has also been transformed into the unique flavors of comfort all over the world.

location

X
  • Born: Los Angeles, CA, USA
  • Based: Oakland, CA, USA

comments

X

Dear Indian Grocery Store under the Freeway

Sita Kuratomi Bhaumik

2013 Turmeric and cardamom on paper, mehendi stencils, paint, text. Variable dimensions. Courtesy of the artist.

contributor

X

Sita Kuratomi Bhaumik

b. 1981
image description
  • See All Works
  • visit website

Sita Kuratomi Bhaumik is conceptual artist working with craft and food to tell the stories of migration. Sita holds a B.A. in Studio Art from Scripps College, and an M.F.A. in interdisciplinary art and an M.A. in Visual and Critical Studies from California College of the Arts. Raised in Los Angeles and based in Oakland, she is Indian and Japanese Colombian American. Sita has exhibited and collaborated in the US, Holland, Ireland, Hong Kong, and Mexico. Her projects include installing curry powder in a European castle, importing artisan goods over the US-Mexico border, and leading workshops about food, migration, and memory in Hong Kong. Her most recent project, Estamos contra el muro | We are against the wall, involved the collaborative construction of a border wall made entirely of piñatas. The East Bay Express described it as "the most joyous political critique of the year."
 
Sita is also a co-founder of the People's Kitchen Collective (PKC), who were named in 2016's Yerba Buena Center for the Arts’ YBCA 100 list. They are recipients of the Center for Asian American Media’s (CAAM) Advocate Award and were awarded support by the Kenneth Rainin Foundation Open Spaces Program. PKC recently exhibited with For Freedoms, the first artist-run super PAC at Jack Shainman Gallery in New York and at the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center's Crosslines pop-up museum. The goal of The People's Kitchen is to not only fill our stomachs but also nourish our souls, feed our minds and fuel a movement.
 
See also peopleskitchencollective.com.

Photo credit: Rachyel Magana



 

For the Love/Hate of Curry

A golden, aromatic spice blend that is prized by some and reviled by others, curry powder is a polarizing substance. Over the past five years I have used it as a dye, perfume, and pigment in my art practice. But I rarely eat the bottled stuff.

What, exactly, is curry? It is a delicious dish and an inadequate word. As food historian Thy Tran once told me, it is a word that falls short because it attempts to use the language of the colonizer to describe the many foods of the colonized. The first reference to curry powder was published in Mrs. Beeton’s Book of Household Management (1961), a book to aid British housewives in the particulars of maintaining a proper home in the colonies. I began to trace my own history through an alternative spice route. Being Indian and Japanese Colombian American, we ate curry all the time in our house. Indian cooks don’t usually use curry powder--but my mother, who is Colombian-born Japanese, made the kind that came out of a box. She mixed it with chicken, carrots and potatoes to create one of my favorite meals (coincidentally, the most popular brand of curry powder happens to be my initials, “S&B” and so I took it as a sign that I was meant to work with the material). Why does Japan’s #1 dish come from a package? Japan was introduced to curry by the British who made a roux of flour and fat with the spice blend. The Indian varieties? Those were more difficult to define. My father is from a small village outside of Kolkata. I still have no idea what is and isn’t a “curry.” Neither does my family. It’s just food in sauce – but it’s so much more.

After my first installation with curry powder in 2008, I searched the phrase “smells like curry” online. I suppose I expected to find a racist joke or two and a few recipes. Instead, I found thousands of entries referring to the way Indian people smelled. The one I will always remember was a posting on Yahoo! Answers:

Q: Help, my neighbor’s house smells like curry.
A: Call the INS.

I became obsessed with this anonymous entry. For the first time I realized that race is constructed by more than what we see.

Over the next few years I sprinkled curry powder through the streets of Oakland, opened a Curry Institute (2011) at Whitman College, where visitors could chart their own Curry Cartography, and worked with perfumer Yosh Han to create a curry perfume called Gilt (2010) just because I wanted everyone to have the right to smell like curry. Eventually the spice pieces made their way onto the walls themselves.

Although my ingredients span the globe, I always source my materials from family-owned businesses. I had been purchasing ingredients from Bombay Bazaar, a hidden grocery store that had closed and re-opened in San Francisco’s wildly gentrifying Mission district. The last time I went in to say hello, the store had disappeared. Shelves, fluorescent lighting, and all. It is with the last batch of spices purchased at this shop that I created Dear Indian Grocery Store both in the bathroom of 18 Reasons in San Francisco and at the San Jose Museum of Art in November 2013. Feeling yet another loss in a city I recognize less and less, I wrote an open letter to the grocery store. This letter always accompanies the installation. As with my previous installations, the excess curry powder collected from the installation will be used to dye napkins and tablecloths for a sliding-scale community dinner. The curry powder is reserved for the art - it is rarely used in the cooking of the meal.

Most Indian cooks would never be caught with curry powder in their kitchens - it limits the complexity and variety of a dish. This powder is India concentrate. This is the myth we expect in Indian supermarkets, restaurants, and, yes, even people. But this complicated blend has also been transformed into the unique flavors of comfort all over the world.

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  • Born: Los Angeles, CA, USA
  • Based: Oakland, CA, USA

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Dear Indian Grocery Store under the Freeway

Sita Kuratomi Bhaumik

2013 Turmeric and cardamom on paper, mehendi stencils, paint, text. Variable dimensions. Courtesy of the artist.

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Sita Kuratomi Bhaumik

b. 1981
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Sita Kuratomi Bhaumik is conceptual artist working with craft and food to tell the stories of migration. Sita holds a B.A. in Studio Art from Scripps College, and an M.F.A. in interdisciplinary art and an M.A. in Visual and Critical Studies from California College of the Arts. Raised in Los Angeles and based in Oakland, she is Indian and Japanese Colombian American. Sita has exhibited and collaborated in the US, Holland, Ireland, Hong Kong, and Mexico. Her projects include installing curry powder in a European castle, importing artisan goods over the US-Mexico border, and leading workshops about food, migration, and memory in Hong Kong. Her most recent project, Estamos contra el muro | We are against the wall, involved the collaborative construction of a border wall made entirely of piñatas. The East Bay Express described it as "the most joyous political critique of the year."
 
Sita is also a co-founder of the People's Kitchen Collective (PKC), who were named in 2016's Yerba Buena Center for the Arts’ YBCA 100 list. They are recipients of the Center for Asian American Media’s (CAAM) Advocate Award and were awarded support by the Kenneth Rainin Foundation Open Spaces Program. PKC recently exhibited with For Freedoms, the first artist-run super PAC at Jack Shainman Gallery in New York and at the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center's Crosslines pop-up museum. The goal of The People's Kitchen is to not only fill our stomachs but also nourish our souls, feed our minds and fuel a movement.
 
See also peopleskitchencollective.com.

Photo credit: Rachyel Magana



 

For the Love/Hate of Curry

A golden, aromatic spice blend that is prized by some and reviled by others, curry powder is a polarizing substance. Over the past five years I have used it as a dye, perfume, and pigment in my art practice. But I rarely eat the bottled stuff.

What, exactly, is curry? It is a delicious dish and an inadequate word. As food historian Thy Tran once told me, it is a word that falls short because it attempts to use the language of the colonizer to describe the many foods of the colonized. The first reference to curry powder was published in Mrs. Beeton’s Book of Household Management (1961), a book to aid British housewives in the particulars of maintaining a proper home in the colonies. I began to trace my own history through an alternative spice route. Being Indian and Japanese Colombian American, we ate curry all the time in our house. Indian cooks don’t usually use curry powder--but my mother, who is Colombian-born Japanese, made the kind that came out of a box. She mixed it with chicken, carrots and potatoes to create one of my favorite meals (coincidentally, the most popular brand of curry powder happens to be my initials, “S&B” and so I took it as a sign that I was meant to work with the material). Why does Japan’s #1 dish come from a package? Japan was introduced to curry by the British who made a roux of flour and fat with the spice blend. The Indian varieties? Those were more difficult to define. My father is from a small village outside of Kolkata. I still have no idea what is and isn’t a “curry.” Neither does my family. It’s just food in sauce – but it’s so much more.

After my first installation with curry powder in 2008, I searched the phrase “smells like curry” online. I suppose I expected to find a racist joke or two and a few recipes. Instead, I found thousands of entries referring to the way Indian people smelled. The one I will always remember was a posting on Yahoo! Answers:

Q: Help, my neighbor’s house smells like curry.
A: Call the INS.

I became obsessed with this anonymous entry. For the first time I realized that race is constructed by more than what we see.

Over the next few years I sprinkled curry powder through the streets of Oakland, opened a Curry Institute (2011) at Whitman College, where visitors could chart their own Curry Cartography, and worked with perfumer Yosh Han to create a curry perfume called Gilt (2010) just because I wanted everyone to have the right to smell like curry. Eventually the spice pieces made their way onto the walls themselves.

Although my ingredients span the globe, I always source my materials from family-owned businesses. I had been purchasing ingredients from Bombay Bazaar, a hidden grocery store that had closed and re-opened in San Francisco’s wildly gentrifying Mission district. The last time I went in to say hello, the store had disappeared. Shelves, fluorescent lighting, and all. It is with the last batch of spices purchased at this shop that I created Dear Indian Grocery Store both in the bathroom of 18 Reasons in San Francisco and at the San Jose Museum of Art in November 2013. Feeling yet another loss in a city I recognize less and less, I wrote an open letter to the grocery store. This letter always accompanies the installation. As with my previous installations, the excess curry powder collected from the installation will be used to dye napkins and tablecloths for a sliding-scale community dinner. The curry powder is reserved for the art - it is rarely used in the cooking of the meal.

Most Indian cooks would never be caught with curry powder in their kitchens - it limits the complexity and variety of a dish. This powder is India concentrate. This is the myth we expect in Indian supermarkets, restaurants, and, yes, even people. But this complicated blend has also been transformed into the unique flavors of comfort all over the world.

location

X
  • Born: Los Angeles, CA, USA
  • Based: Oakland, CA, USA

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The Head Is the Best Part/ September 29, 2013

Elaine Castillo

Sep 29, 2013 Video. 8 min 56 sec Courtesy of the artist.

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Elaine Castillo

b. 1984
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Elaine Castillo was born in the San Francisco Bay Area and currently lives in southeast London. Her writing can be found or is forthcoming at make/shift magazine, The Rumpus, [PANK] Magazine and Feminist Review, among others. She is also a board member of Digital Desperados, a Glasgow-based film collective for women of color. At the end of March, one of her short films was screened at The Future Weird, a Brooklyn-based film series run by Derica Shields and Megan Eardly, devoted to films exploring non-Western futurisms. She is currently at work on a novel, A Filipineia.

location

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  • Born: San Francisco, CA, USA
  • Based: London, England, UK
  • Also Based in: San Francisco, CA, USA

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