LA’s Department of Cultural Affairs (DCA) Debuts Food-Inspired Citywide Arts Initiative this October, Igniting important Cultural Conversation

September 19, 2019

 15 Commissioned artists taking on the subject of food accessibility and equity include Ry Rocklen, Michael Rakowitz, Jazmin Urrea, and Nancy Lupo

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With the premiere of CURRENT:LA FOOD approaching, the City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs (DCA) is excited to announce the schedule of events for the 15 CURRENT:LA FOOD commissioned artists and artist teams and the commissioned community partners. To review the full list of triennial events, please click here: http://culturela.org/currentlaevents

CURRENT:LA FOOD events will be free to all visitors, easily accessible via public transportation, and welcoming to all ages. Visitors will be able to see, hear, and interact with never-before-seen art experiences like a replica of an Iraqi palace and a flaming hot Cheetosä structure, as well as see live performances by the S.H.I.N.E. Mawusi Women’s African Drum Circle and participate in fermentation workshops, among other community-driven and celebratory food events.

For the second iteration of this citywide Public Art Triennial, all exhibitions and events will take place October 5 through November 3, 2019, in 15 public parks and in neighborhoods across Los Angeles. CURRENT:LA FOOD will focus on the topic of food and global issues connected with food such as food accessibility and equity.

“There are over 75 commissioned events during the month-long triennial taking place across the city for residents and visitors. We hope everyone will engage in CURRENT:LA FOOD either in their own neighborhoods or in new locations they may have never visited before,” said Danielle Brazell, General Manager of the City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs.

New Weather Station ©, Chris Kallmyer 2016

The artists and community organizations were thoughtfully paired together to encourage conversations and provide engaging experiences in each location, designed to provoke audiences to think about food and issues surrounding food in new ways through art:

LA Historic Park (Chinatown/Elysian Park) Artist: 

Adrià Julià’s project, A Very White Flower, consists of two new films that critically explore the production and consumption of popcorn, its intrinsic link to Hollywood and the film industry, and the historical and socioeconomic intricacies of the global corn industry.

Public Programming Community Partner:

Los Angeles Food Policy Council’s three fireside chats embrace the layered history of food and cultural transformation across a range of epochs, including the park’s history as a Tongva village, the development of agriculture and industry, and decolonizing the future of LA food.

Valley Recreation Center (North Hollywood) Artist:

Shana Lutker’s Contemporary Museum of Temporary Containers (CMTC) is an installation of single-use takeout containers painted a single color and organized by size, shape, or former contents. The work encourages creative reuse and considers the limits of sustainability and recycling at a critical juncture of environmental responsibility.

Public Programming Community Partner:

Drawing on manipulative food marketing and consumption from a personal and communal perspective, Christopher Reynolds presents a site-specific installation in and around the pool at Valley Plaza. Sounds, scents, and performances complete the Baker-Miller, pink-hued experience.

Reseda Recreation Center (Reseda)   Artist:

Celebrating the universal experience of eating with one’s hands, Eva Aguila’s installation comprises an outdoor earthen oven based on a Mexican comal (griddle), with demonstrations by a local tortillero artist. Accompanying the installation is a screening of newly commissioned experimental videos by artists with a tradition of eating by hand.

Public Programming Community Partner:

Across Our Kitchen Table’s afternoon-long event centered in the San Fernando Valley features a pop-up marketplace, a traditional arts workshop, cooking demos, family activities, as well as a dance performance—inviting viewers to eat, exchange ideas, and reflect on local and global histories.

Pan Pacific Park (Fairfax, Mid-City) Artist: 

Michael Rakowitz re-creates Room F of the destroyed Northwest Palace of Nimrud in Iraq in the form of an outdoor banquet space. Dates are the main ingredient of the project’s meals and serve to spark conversation about the historical engagements between the United States and Iraq and the date industry that connects the two countries.

Public Programming Community Partner:

Working with an adobe bread oven constructed for, and in, Pan Pacific Park, Leyna Lightman will collaborate with women from different regions of the world to prepare, bake, and share bread over conversations that explore the history and heritage of this fundamental food.

Palms Park (Rancho Park)   Artist:

Ry Rocklen’s Food Group: The Body Palms imagines the Palms Park as a giant digestive system, with an installation of bronze sculptures and a live performance based on his Food Group characters, who wear costumes modeled after popular food eaten by hand, such as popcorn, cupcakes, or tacos.

Public Programming Community Partner: 

Babsi Loisch will host series of events that explore the ways we talk about and engage in the often-private act of feeding infants and toddlers. This project will build community and conversation around lactation, first foods, labor, caretaking, and family-making.

Delano Recreation Center (Van Nuys) Artists: 

ALL AGAIN is a choral and movement performance organized and led by Carolyn Pennypacker Riggs and Annie Gimas. The work reflects on themes including food justice, ecology, and environmental manipulation, with an emphasis on access, food waste, and compost. The artists’ goal is to support dialogue and action around these crucial topics through collective movement, music, and education.

Public Programming Community Partner:

Women’s Center for Creative Work will host a screening of “Going Bananas” by gloria galvez—an animated film on the problematic history and contemporary condition of bananas sold to Western countries—accompanied by a meal of snack-sized banana foods and a discussion of the film. Viewers will be invited to contribute to galvez’s online archiving art and activism project.

Roger Jessup Park (Pacoima) Artist:

Through food, Emily Marchand’s A Thousand Lunches examines ideologies around survival. At Roger Jessup Park, volunteers participate in a large-scale lunch-packing session to benefit local homeless services in Pacoima. A large community lunch takes place on a compostable cloth embedded with seeds that participants cut portions from and use to grow food.

Public Programming Community Partner:

Bed & Breakfast’s workshop participants learn how to fabricate and cook with solar cookers. Also featured is an instructional publication, with plans and recipes for a variety of DIY methods, as well as B&B artist contributions, to illustrate the energy-efficient (and fun!) process of cooking with the sun.

Martin Luther King, Jr. Park (Exposition Park, Los Angeles) Artist:

Jazmin Urrea’s Imperishable sculptures in Martin Luther King Jr. Park in LA are filled with Flamin’ Hot Cheetos® and stand 8 feet tall. This amusing monument to a popular junk food is also an imposing reminder of the poverty of nutritional options in disfranchised communities.

Public Programming Community Partner:

Join SEE-LA (Sustainable Economic Enterprises of Los Angeles), an organization that operates farmer’s markets throughout the region, for an all-day gathering in the park that will connect community members to local growers over a series of talks and workshops.

Exposition Park Rose Garden (Expo Park, Adams District)  Artist: 

Michael Queenland’s Untitled, 2019 metal sculpture presents breakfast cereal piled on top of a hand-knotted rug that features patterns from the Pakistan-Afghanistan border region. One layer shows a perishable item made for modern consumption, while the other is part of a history of artisanal craft. Two cultural products are juxtaposed to compel a consideration of formal, social, and political associations.

Public Programming Community Partner:

Taking place throughout the Rose Garden, Center for the Arts Eagle Rock’s one-day, all-ages event will bring together members of Los Angeles’ artist and culinary communities to engage participants in a breadth of hands-on activities—involving food, art, and poetry—that relate to the city’s rich and diverse food cultures.

Leimert Plaza Park (Leimert Park Village)  Artist:

The events and art installations of Nari Ward’s Enchanted Servers metaphorically set the table to celebrate and reflect on how food is served. In Leimert Park, a totem sculpture made of food plate covers and jacks evokes LA car culture, food trucks, and DIY music instruments. Participatory activations related to this work generate meaningful social communion around food, art, and music.

Public Programming Community Partner:  

SÜPRSEED’s vegan experience SÜPRFEST brings a taste of delicious health to the Village, featuring meals from some of the best vegan vendors in the city. Eats and experiences combine to make wellness accessible, so stop by for an incredibly enjoyable afternoon!

Venice Beach (Venice) Artists:

Mussel Beach contemplates the cultural history and ecosystem of Venice Beach, focusing on the impact of climate change on mussels, which act as filters for pollution along the shoreline. Through a series of mixed-media interventions along the beach, including a choreographed audio tour, Cooking Sections investigates the consequences of human activity on the natural landscape.

Public Programming Community Partner:

Human Resources LA and a diverse group of artists will contribute ‘recipe’ versions of new and existing artworks to create an artist’s ‘cookbook.’ During two events, these recipes will be performed using the four handball courts at Venice Beach Recreation Center as stages. Members of the public are invited to participate.

Orcutt Ranch Horticultural Center (West Hills) Artist:

Nonfood’s algae-harvesting greenhouse presents an underexplored alternative food-production option for sustainable and nutritious products. The greenhouse is an elegant, translucent minimalist structure with a functioning alkaline pond installation that grows FDA-approved algae. The aquatic plant produces the rich green color that contrasts with the neutral industrial elements of the space.

Public Programming Community Partner:

Lucia Fabio and local organizations will teach about birth, life, and death in the plant life cycle and how it connects to our own; with Hey Baby Feminist Parenting Group, Seed Library of

Los Angeles, Ford House Kitchen Garden, Food Forward, LA Compost, and Tembi Locke.         

Barnsdall Park (East Hollywood) Artists:

New Shores: The Future Dialogue Between Two Homelands focuses on the immigrant experience and the ethnic diversity around Barnsdall Park. Julio César Morales and

Max La Rivière-Hedrick collaborate with local chefs to hear personal accounts of food and migration. They then use the narratives as the foundation to create a multisensory installation and series of performances inspired by night markets.

Public Programming Community Partner:

Join LA Eats Itself (LAEI) for a fictional take on “the Big One” by raiding the pantry of a “prepper;” an end-of-the-world survivalist who constantly prepares for potential disaster. This experimental prepper pantry contains survivalist-based foods to feast on—ranging from fermenting dishes, foraged meals, and survivalist food provisions.

Pershing Square (Downtown Los Angeles) Artist:

Nancy Lupo’s Open Mouth is an installation of custom benches with rounded end elements that resemble teeth. The benches are arranged in a configuration that resembles a diagrammatic adult human mouth. The work is a stage for viewing, meeting, and thinking about the metabolism of the city.

Public Programming Community Partner:

The Golden Dome and its collaborators will bring people together to explore food and prismatic color at two gatherings that involve shared meals, tea ceremonies, performance, and sound. This project will address the deeper personal, social, spiritual, and political ways we can experience food and drink.

Ted Watkins Memorial Park (Watts) Artists:

A reimagined barbecue area, designed by Torolab, becomes a social space to create a crowd-sourced project titled Watts Cookbook. The collective seeks to cultivate a diverse dialogue around the history of open-fire cooking in urban communities of color, and thereby counter the reality of food deserts by affirming food as a shared value abundant in local hearts and minds.

Public Programming Community Partner: 

LA Commons is collaborating with Ted Watkins Memorial Park for their annual parent appreciation celebration. Join in for an afternoon of barbecuing and picnicking, story-sharing, games, and art designed by local youth.

CURRENT:LA FOOD is organized by a lead curatorial team from the Institute of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (ICA LA) represented by Asuka Hisa (Director of Learning and Engagement, ICA LA) and Jamillah James (Curator, ICA LA) as well as curatorial advisors: Lauren Mackler, independent curator, founder of Public Fiction, and co-curator of Made in LA 2020, Hammer Museum; Diana Nawi, independent curator and co-curator of Prospect.5, New Orleans; and Marco Rios, artist and Curator at the Luckman Gallery, California State University, Los Angeles.

CURRENT:LA FOOD partners include: the Office of the Mayor Eric Garcetti; the Los Angeles City Council; the Institute of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; the City of Los Angeles Department of Recreation and Parks; the City of Los Angeles Department of Transportation; Los Angeles State Historic Park; Los Angeles County Parks and Recreation Department –

Ted Watkins Memorial Park; the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority; California State University, Los Angeles; and Public Media Group of Southern California – KCET’s Artbound.

About CURRENT:LA

CURRENT:LA puts a new spin on traditional international triennials by democratizing the way people access art. The initiative shifts art away from the museum environment and places temporary public art projects and public programs in the neighborhoods of Los Angeles where residents and visitors live, work, and play.

CURRENT:LA uses contemporary art as a way to deepen connections on issues affecting

Los Angeles and other global cities to inspire civic discourse on those particular issues.

CURRENT:LA is funded by the City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs. For more information about CURRENT:LA FOOD, please visit currentla.org or follow CURRENT:LA on Facebook, Instagram @current_la, and Twitter @current_la.

About CURRENT:LA FOOD

Food culture is more diverse today, offering more possibilities for exploration than ever before. From modern scientific experiments to the revival of local ethnic traditions, these developments are cause for wonder and celebration. And yet, we have food that is increasingly unhealthy and is unjustly distributed, while hunger and malnutrition continue to plague demographics around the world. The contributing artists for CURRENT:LA FOOD will highlight the advances — as well as the challenges — we face as producers and consumers.

Through major public art commissions and public programs with local, international, and multigenerational artists, CURRENT:LA FOOD will explore the multiplicity of food. Placement of the CURRENT:LA FOOD projects within LA’s burgeoning public transit infrastructure will allow for greater exploration and access, bringing these projects directly to residents and visitors throughout the city. Through an intricate partnership between artists and community members, CURRENT:LA FOOD will shed new light on the precarious balance between pleasure and peril found in food today, and the many ways food gives expression to social and political life.   

#CURRENTLA

About the City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs (DCA)

As a leading, progressive arts and cultural agency, DCA empowers Los Angeles’s vibrant communities by supporting and providing access to quality visual, literary, musical, performing, and educational arts programming; managing vital cultural centers; preserving historic sites; creating public art; and funding services provided by arts organizations and individual artists.

Formed in 1925, DCA promotes arts and culture as a way to ignite a powerful dialogue, engage LA’s residents and visitors, and ensure LA’s varied cultures are recognized, acknowledged, and experienced. DCA’s mission is to strengthen the quality of life in Los Angeles by stimulating and supporting arts and cultural activities, ensuring public access to the arts for residents and visitors alike.

DCA advances the social and economic impact of arts and culture through grant-making, public art, community arts, performing arts, and strategic marketing, development, design, and digital research. DCA creates and supports arts programming, maximizing relationships with other city agencies, artists, and arts and cultural nonprofit organizations to provide excellent service in neighborhoods throughout Los Angeles.

For more information, please visit culturela.org or follow us on Facebook at: facebook.com/culturela, Instagram @culture_la, and Twitter @culture_la.

 

About the Institute of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (ICA LA)

 The Institute of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (ICA LA) is an epicenter of artistic experimentation and incubator of new ideas. Founded in 1984 as the Santa Monica Museum of Art (SMMoA) and reestablished in 2017 with a new identity and home in Downtown Los Angeles, ICA LA builds upon a distinguished history of bold curatorial vision and innovative programming to illuminate the important untold stories and emerging voices in contemporary art and culture. ICA LA’s mission is to support art that sparks the pleasure of discovery and challenges the way we see and experience the world, ourselves, and each other. ICA LA is committed to upending hierarchies of race, class, gender, and culture. Through exhibitions, education programs, and community partnerships, ICA LA fosters critique of the familiar and empathy with the different. ICA LA is committed to making contemporary art relevant and accessible for all. Admission is free.

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