Curated by Emily Alesandrini and Danni Shen
May Maylisa Cat
Ilana Yacine Harris-Babou
Jeanne F. Jalandoni
Hayoon Jay Lee
In her seminal essay, “Eating the Other: Desire and Resistance” (1992), author and activist bell hooks writes: “The overriding fear is that cultural, ethnic, and racial differences will be continually commodified and offered up as new dishes to enhance the white palate – that the Other will be eaten, consumed, and forgotten.” The artists in Eating: Otherness explore food, consumption and the body on their own terms, asserting an inedibility and agency beyond colonial definitions. Expanding on and sometimes reconfiguring various aesthetic traditions and popular representations of foodstuffs, the works in this exhibition take on critical, sociocultural investigations of food-related topics such as meal preparation, wellness culture, and culinary appropriation, while highlighting various forms of sustenance and their meaningful sources. At the heart of this project is also a celebration of food-centered relations via abundance, as well as of intergenerational, ancestral, and embodied knowledge. For artists of various diasporas in the city, food is especially situated among these convoluted factors, and it is at these junctures that works by Destiny Belgrave, May Maylisa Cat, Ilana Yacine Harris-Babou, Jeanne F. Jalandoni, Hayoon Jay Lee, and TJ Shin intervene.
This project further acknowledges the homogenizing, white-supremacist history of the consumption of women’s bodies and labor, while simultaneously serving as a rebuttal to those forces that continue to infringe upon our diverse and specific relations to wellbeing, food security, and bodily autonomy. Eating: Otherness prompts us to reconsider both the notions of eating and otherness: Can what we consume, a recipe, cooking, or the rituals of a meal, also be a form of resistance and refusal? Can the diversity found in knowledge via food present radical other ways of being in the world?