INTERVIEW FOR THE COLLECTIVE FOOD OF WAR
- Tell us about your practice.
My proposal is based on the exercise of creating spaces for spectators become actors and co-authors of my work under the following assumptions:
1. The concepts depend on the circumstances.
2. To star a conversation from those questions and concerns that we share and not from the way in which we respond them, makes the field of trading to expand and multiplies the options to follow.
3. “Ma” a Japanese concept that defines the space, time or pause between things.
I Imagine and materialize each work consciously playing with the balance (or not) between intention, aesthetics and ethics to create what I call platforms: A place with a preset time and a excuse where ideal conditions are given in order to what I propose to my interlocutor germinates.
2- Why have you incorporated Food within you art practice?
When I speak about starting conversations from the basics, food, hunger and desire to be satisfied, are the perfect motive and the most appropriate motor to generate a context where all participants start from the same point.
The origin of this idea dates from 1997, when I traveled to the Sierra Nevada del Cocuy (Colombia) and Güicán (Colombia) as a climber. Above 4000 meters there were some cabins and I had asked to the owner to exchange work for food and shelter. So, a colleague and me became the hotel´s chefs. After a couple of days the guerrilla took place and turned it into a kind of base camp. They had retained the town´s main authorities and left them at the hotel with us, while the big group went to Güicán to take the village.
It was 7 pm when we decide to cook for every one there: about 30 people, including Colombians, foreigners, detainees and retainers. When we called to eat all the people rejoiced because they were hungry. Oh surprise, when the guests arrived at the dining room and found out that the tables had been set as a single and huge surface to share the food.
Our bet was sitting all together!. Of course the dinner was undoubtedly stressful, and it seemed longer than usual.
At the end of the dinner, the guided of the Italian climbers said: “I invite you to imagine a future in which we can be sitting together in other and better conditions”.
After 17 years, I was invited to intervene an art museum whose headquarters was an English style house. When I saw the place, I knew it was the perfect place to do the second dinner: It was the social, political and cultural time to make those words a reality. I could invite a several persons that had change their main paradigms or had belonged to army groups, “official and not officials”
Then, I proposed it to the museum with the will of turning its gaze away, one in which ”history” is not a tale of the past, but something we are able to write; the idea fit so well with the historical moment of our country. They accepted. It was the beginning of a huge plan to offer these kinds of “platforms” in several social environments.
Colombia becomes (it must be) a place where differences and the power of building collectively, are recognized and accepted more and more; we are two couples of generations that must lead by example, silencing the voice of the fear and the voices of the personal and social egos and recognizing that some ones sin by actions and others by default. It will not be any easy, but lets take the chance.
Finally, I would like to recall some words that a woman who belonged to the M19 and now is a well recognized leader told me: “Nothing that some one do for this country is less” (nada es mínimo)
3- What do you think about the rise of Food as medium in the art scene?
Food moves the world; it is not only one basic input for surviving, actually it is one of the medium to control and reduce others; as well, eating is one of the most delicious pleasures and almost all the economy goes around it, so why do not use a language that everyone knows? I think it is clever and pragmatic.
Socially, another aspect that really matters is the way the food is consumed. I mean, the act of eating. I invite you to take conscious what criteria people have to decide what to eat and how we eat. In my case I focus my work on the act of sharing a meal. The invitation during the “nextescens” is based on the exercise of design a dish that all enjoy, recognizing tastes, limitations and desires of each one; to prepare it and then to share it.
Professionally, I use a metaphor that let me conceive an idea or a proposal as a seed. What I do when I design and offer a platform, is giving the conditions for an idea to germinate; in other words, how each art proposal is received and developed depends on the quality of the environment that the artist seed it.
4- Are there any cases in your country where you could see the relation between Food (conflict) and War?
Of course! one day we will get the opportunity to mix art and concepts of the post-conflict. They are powerful concepts because of both can transgress and push limits in people. Talking about Colombia post-conflict, there are a lot of opportunities to dream and invite our people to do it. It is a time to invite others to convey the idea of we come to this world to "know ourselves" and begin to experience life as the exercise of "creating oneself." Definitively, it is ideal to turn our gaze away, in which "History" is not a tale of the past, but something that we build at each moment, and the future we are able to write.
Certainly there are many. For example, the origin of the conflict in Colombia is the land tenancy and what it is used for. During decades the difference between small farmers and large landowners have been abysmal. For example, and as an ironic fact, the small farmers that are responsible for producing almost the 70% of the food that Colombia consumes are the ones who have the highest rate of poverty. For sure, to make an effort to design and realize a sustainable agricultural project to offer a better quality of life to the small farmers and their families is one the pillars of this post-conflict stage.
Another examples that come to my mind is one of the combat strategies that the national army applies is closing the routes the groups outside of the law uses to bring food to the camps.
5- If you could define your work as a dish, what dish would it be and why?
One day I had the chance of eating Ethiopian food. Have you?
The main dish comes in a big plateau and it is a round stretchy pancake-like bread named injera, served at the center and surrounded with beautiful and colored mounds of spicy stews, cooked vegetables and salads. It is a dish to share and eaten with the hands (there is no cutlery on the table).
What I like the most is the surprise one feels when it is the first time eating it for and the final sensation that is something like “uhmm it was possible and nice”. The dynamic with the other diners is particular “closer” because it is necessary to follow their desires and movements as well. In these cases is good to imagine that every one has the “hands clean”.
6- Post-conflict and art, how can they work together?
Of course! Every day is an opportunity to evolve the way we negotiate with others and as well with ourselves. There is a lot for learning about how we dealing with our "living together" in macro and micro scales. In order to produce, to get and to disseminate that knowledge, art has a responsibility of making questions and start all kind of conversations that push us not only to experiment the world from other point of view but also to experience oneself from other perspective. Art is one way to explain and understand that concepts depend on circumstances and that an object has 360 degree to be observed a piece of art is the best example of the idea about true is just a construction of several or hundred versions joined and it reflect the way the world is stared. If we grasp it, it will be easier to unravel each conflict. Right now, the risk and the challenge are giant, as well the opportunity.