CULTURE & ARTS
12/26/2014 11:42 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

New Orleans Art Explores How Food Preserves Difference In A Country Pushing For Sameness

There are infinite reasons to love food. Its ability to warm your insides on a cold day -- and likewise, chill yourself on a sweaty one. It can take your belly on an exotic vacation on the cheap, or instantly provide the feeling of home. It tastes very, very good. And, perhaps most importantly, food is a means to transfer traditions, stir up history and conserve difference -- whether in a tupperware or the freezer.

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The Fruit Doesn't Fall Far from the Tree, 2013-2014 by Fallen Fruit. Photo by Dale Gunnoe.

One of the highlights of New Orleans' ongoing biennial "Prospect.3: Notes for Now," is "Foodways," a pop-up, multimedia exhibition curated by local arts blog and community organizers Pelican Bomb. The exhibition explores the many ways food has honored unique heritages and stories throughout American history, particularly in a place as diverse -- and spicy -- as New Orleans.

The exhibition, which takes place at the future home of the New Orleans Culinary and Hospitality Institute, features contemporary artists who -- though they may not be from the region -- center their work in or around the American South. The artists on view, working in media ranging from painting and photography to video and installation to truly mouthwatering crocheted beignets, create artwork of regional rituals associated with food's growth, preparation and enjoyment.

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Artemis Antippas, 40-pièce (de résistance), 2014. Silicone, fine glitter, metal, and motorized turntable.

One artist on view, showing her work publicly for the first time ever, is New Orleans native Artemis Antippas. For her series "Chicken," Antippas photographed a variety of Popeye's fried chicken legs dipped in glitter, yielding a bizarre dichotomy of delicious fried chicken and inedible adornment, or rather, ashen-looking fast food and a glitzy disguise. Whichever way you see it, the piece visualizes the endlessly paradoxical nature of the city.

"New Orleans is constantly referred to as a checkerboard," Antippas explained in an interview with Pelican Bomb's Rosemary Reyes. "You’ll have one beautiful block with gorgeous homes and well-cared-for gardens. The block down the street might be blighted and ignored. That is the reality of New Orleans. The chicken is totally grotesque if you actually look at it, but throw some glitter on it and it’s transformed."

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Michi Meko, Cast Iron Cruise Line: Skillet #2 (Wave Breaking), 2014. Archival pigment print.

Another standout portion of the exhibition is Michi Meko’s photography series "Cast Iron Cruise Line," part of his "The Great Migration" project. For the work, Meko transformed an iron skillet into a sailing vessel, illuminating a variety of intergenerational wealth focused on tradition over money in systemically under-resourced African American communities. He then photographs the DIY boats in various bodies of water around the country -- surprisingly, they float -- referencing the migratory patterns of African Americans from the South to other parts of the country in the early 1900s.

The show also features work from Los Angeles-based collective Fallen Fruit, a collaboration which began by mapping fruit trees on LA public property and has grown to encompass a variety of public projects, all incorporating fruit and urban space in some way, from adding fruits to flea market found paintings to communal jam-making.

Playful and profound, a real visual buffet, "Foodways" tickles the senses and warms the soul just like a perfectly prepared home-cooked meal. The small show is one of the gems of P.3, truly a must-see for foodies, NOLA natives and anyone who's ever craved fried chicken.

  • Denny Culbert, Boucherie
    Denny Culbert, Boucherie
  • A still from Jenny LeBlanc, Hot Tamales, 2009. Video (performance detail).
    A still from Jenny LeBlanc, Hot Tamales, 2009. Video (performance detail).
  • Installation shot, photo by Dale Gunnoe.
    Installation shot, photo by Dale Gunnoe.
  • Installation shot, photo by Dale Gunnoe.
    Installation shot, photo by Dale Gunnoe.
  • Installation shot, photo by Dale Gunnoe.
    Installation shot, photo by Dale Gunnoe.
  • Installation shot, photo by Dale Gunnoe.
    Installation shot, photo by Dale Gunnoe.
  • Installation shot, photo by Dale Gunnoe.
    Installation shot, photo by Dale Gunnoe.
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BEFORE YOU GO

  • Manal AlDowayan
Nassir, 2011
Silver gelatin fibre print
10 x 14 inches
Edition of 3 (+ 2 AP) 
Image courtesy of the artist an
    Manal AlDowayan Nassir, 2011 Silver gelatin fibre print 10 x 14 inches Edition of 3 (+ 2 AP) Image courtesy of the artist and Cuadro Gallery, Dubai
  • Will Ryman
Icon, 2011
painted stainless steel, fiberglass, paint
360 inches tall x 144 inches
Courtesy the artist and Paul Ka
    Will Ryman Icon, 2011 painted stainless steel, fiberglass, paint 360 inches tall x 144 inches Courtesy the artist and Paul Kasmin Gallery, New York
  • McArthur Binion 
DNA Study: Five, 2013
Ink, laser print collage, oil paint stick and Staonal crayon on panel 
96” x 72” x 3”
    McArthur Binion DNA Study: Five, 2013 Ink, laser print collage, oil paint stick and Staonal crayon on panel 96” x 72” x 3” Courtesy Kavi Gupta, Chicago
  • Carrie Mae Weems 
Still from Lincoln, Lonnie, and Me – A Story in 5 Parts, 2012
Mixed Media Video Theatre Installation (“Pepp
    Carrie Mae Weems Still from Lincoln, Lonnie, and Me – A Story in 5 Parts, 2012 Mixed Media Video Theatre Installation (“Pepper’s ghost” illusion technique), Duration: 18’ min. Courtesy the artist and Jack Shainman Gallery, New York
  • Carrie Mae Weems 
Still from Lincoln, Lonnie, and Me – A Story in 5 Parts, 2012
Mixed Media Video Theatre Installation (“Pepp
    Carrie Mae Weems Still from Lincoln, Lonnie, and Me – A Story in 5 Parts, 2012 Mixed Media Video Theatre Installation (“Pepper’s ghost” illusion technique), Duration: 18’ min. Courtesy the artist and Jack Shainman Gallery, New York
  • Huguette Caland 
Sunrise, 1973
Oil on linen
39 ½” x 39 ½”
Courtesy of the artist and Lombard Freid Gallery, New York
    Huguette Caland Sunrise, 1973 Oil on linen 39 ½” x 39 ½” Courtesy of the artist and Lombard Freid Gallery, New York
  • Huguette Caland 
Bribes de Corps, 1973
Oil on linen
60” x 60”
Courtesy of the artist and Lombard Freid Gallery, New York
    Huguette Caland Bribes de Corps, 1973 Oil on linen 60” x 60” Courtesy of the artist and Lombard Freid Gallery, New York
  • Jean-Michel Basquiat 
CPRKR, 1982                	
Acrylic, oil-stick and collage on canvas, mounted on wood
60” x 40”
Donald
    Jean-Michel Basquiat CPRKR, 1982                 Acrylic, oil-stick and collage on canvas, mounted on wood 60” x 40” Donald Baechler Collection, New York © The Estate of Jean-Michel Basquiat / ADAGP, Paris / ARS, New York 2014
  • Jean-Michel Basquiat 
Natchez, 1985
Acrylic, wood and color xeroxes on plywood mounted on wooden doors
85” x 60.63” x 4”
Gale
    Jean-Michel Basquiat Natchez, 1985 Acrylic, wood and color xeroxes on plywood mounted on wooden doors 85” x 60.63” x 4” Galerie Andrea Caratsch, Zurich © The Estate of Jean-Michel Basquiat / ADAGP, Paris / ARS, New York 2014
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