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GALLERY 2013

mobilization

How Much is Enough?
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Description of campaign/project


How Much is Enough? is a participatory event consisting of initiating a symposium on selected topics
engaging passers-by, involving them in the making and consuming of a dinner. The topics of discussion
are selected every time according to the context in which the event takes place. The role of the four
artists is the one of facilitators: both in mediating the dialogue between the participants as well as
making sure that the food-preparation process takes place in the needed timing.


The pace of the performance is defined by the cooking. The amount of time necessary to make pasta, and the nourishing aspect of the act itself, seem to us perfect tools to create a community based on confrontation: in a discussion no one is right, and everyone's perspective is necessary.


The format of How Much is Enough?undermines the traditional dichotomy audience-performer, in favor of a horizontal confrontation between individuals gathered in a pre-defined space time with a common, simple and useful aim.


The fact that a simple and necessary action can break down initial barriers between strangers. They find themselves covered in flour, in need of each others' help to accomplish the simple task of nourishment, and this prompts a deeper kind of relationship, that results in real dialogues, going beyond simple ice-breakers.

Curators comments More info on Curators & Editors ›

Though I am often skeptical of work that falls within common tropes of current practices of relational aesthetics (for a wide variety of reasons), there is something about this project that very much appeals to me. I think it is the simplicity of the proposal, and the nature of collective food-making/eating that resonates so authentically, in contrast to many other constructed "situations of dialogue." I can easily imagine the very tactile aspects of the pasta-making, and how it acts to break down barriers between individuals and develop collaborative relationships. There is something very humble and sincere here,

The documentary photographs help to contextualise the project, but I feel I am missing information about the actual dialogues and situations in which the project was enacted. What types of discussion were the artists facilitating, what "selected topics" were raised, and what were the concrete results? This isn't meant to suggest that "results" are necessary, especially within a dialogic context, but I do feel a more complete description would help me to understand the intentionality behind the work. Are the topics related to the locality of the event, or to the act of communal food production, to eating? I am left wondering...

I very much like the idea of the work taking place within a "disparate" context, or as a tool for conflict-resolution, it is here that I can see it being elevated beyond a simple social intervention and into an effective communications approach. Have previous instances of the project addressed this?

As with many relational practices, I often wonder why these actions need to be contextualised within an artistic practice. In essence, it is a simple social act. Given the recognition the project seems to have received from arts foundations (sincere congratulations!), I wonder how much this actually speaks to the dearth of the "common" within our contemporary society, when eating together becomes recognised as a rareified artistic practice. The critique of this lack is forever present, and I suppose it is highlighted by actions such as this, but I wonder if in communicating a project like this, the dichotomy could be drawn out more.

All this being said, I appreciate this project for what it actually does, bringing strangers together to make food and exchange ideas. More of these initiatives will be necessary if we want to move beyond our dangerously individualist present.

View other works commented by Kevin Yuen-Kit Lo  ››

I have a love for art and for food. And I love it when the two come together largely because of the potential for the more intimate kinds of social engagement it seems you have also been drawn to. It looks like a nice, convivial series of events that you orchestrated. Though I am not sure nice is all this can be, and in this sense you may find Claire Bishop’s now pivotal article ‘Antagonism and Relational Aesthetics’ of interest: http://courses.washington.edu/art361a/readings/Antagonism%20and%20Relational%20Aesthetics%20-%20Claire%20Bishop.pdf

I want to know a lot more about this work; more than your images and words convey. What are the topics that have been discussed thus far? Beyond the location and setting what is the process you use in order to select a topic? Were there any terribly awkward or discomforting moments or moments of extreme boredom or ecstatic inspiration? Who are the participants? Did anyone refuse to participate, and if so on what grounds?

A number of years ago Jacques Rancière really challenged and re-shaped my own attitude towards what you have described as the traditional dichotomy between ‘audience-performer’ with his lecture-cum-essay, which was later extended into an entire book, The Emancipated Spectator. You can access a copy here: http://www.chtodelat.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=952%3Ajacques-ranciere-the-emancipated-spectator&catid=234%3A07-31-theater-of-accomplices&Itemid=414&lang=en

I also want to know what you want a ‘community based on confrontation’ to look like? Does your imagination of this community differ from how things unfolded in practice? How do ‘deeper relationships’ form and exist both within and independent of the actual event? And what is a ‘real dialogue’? Did your event foster any dialogues that were unreal?

The work’s title, ‘How much is enough?’, brings to my mind ideas of endless consumption, greed and gluttony. How does the title relate to the topical concerns of the work?

But perhaps my wanting to know more is irrelevant and mere prying into something I was not able to take part in myself. It is fine for the work to exist fleetingly in the time and place where it happens, known only to those who were present if that is what you, the artist/facilitators, want.

However if that is not the case, if you do want the event to be accessible as a catalyst for further thought and dialogue, perhaps you could explore in a little more detail the creative possibilities of communicating the event to people who were not present. Why did you choose to mark the event with the photographic medium and not something else at hand? Video? Audio? Dirty dishes? Dusty flour covered tables? Decomposing compost from the evening’s scraps? Used napkins? A questionnaire given to participants at the end and compiled into a book? A menu or recipe collection that also brings together the conversations? There are a multitude of possibilities beyond the image.

As you suggest it would be wonderful to see how the work could be used more directly in conflict-mediation. There is a lot of room to grow. Though perhaps the ultimate aim is not necessarily to create nice situations but challenging, interesting, relevant ones. Have you seen Conflict Kitchen (http://www.conflictkitchen.org/), a take away restaurant that serves cuisine from countries the US is in conflict with? Or the work of Michael Rakowitz? In particular Enemy Kitchen (http://michaelrakowitz.com/projects/enemy-kitchen/) and Return (http://michaelrakowitz.com/projects/return/). I hope these works can be of some relevance to your own practices. And I look forward to seeing more of this work’s iterations in the future.

View other works commented by Alana Hunt  ››

Other comments

apescontainer
6 years, 2 months ago

Dear Alana and Kevin

As we are a collective with a collective email we realised just now that MEME Fest had selected us, and your comments.

Thank you so much for you interest and your feedback, we are truly honoured! We will be answering all your very interesting questions and comments, and do our homeworks on Bishop, Ranciere and so on.... why not getting also a bit of Bourriaud and Farquaharson out of the dust....

We will be back shortly, with our collective answers

Thank you again so much.
AC

apescontainer
6 years, 2 months ago

Dear Kevin

To answer your questions:

The topics we threw in as "facilitators" were depending on the context HMiE? was happening in. So far it's been:

- The use of sound for political purposes, the expansions in great spaces of big enterprises changes our urban landscapes
- Codex alimentarius, water shortage, food production and feeding habits, environment.
- Art, Migration, and Identity.
- Community and Individuality.
- Media and Religion.
- Art.

you can find more documentation here:
http://neverenoughofit.com/fridge.html
and
http://neverenoughofit.com/propositions.html#Kabila

The outcomes, as you can see from the link, are a series of propositions that the newly born community of every edition of HMiE? would agree upon. Sometimes we would also compile a list of further readings emerged from the discussions. For the Art, Migration and Identity we asked the community to fill in a sort of VISA application form and then compiled a visual demographic.

Unfortunately, for the conflict-resolution bit, we are still working on getting to places that would need it. So far though, I must say that during the editions of HMiE? we had some sort of micro-conflict-resolution situations, and somehow the very nature of the work helped the resolution.

And indeed your questioning the labeling of such entity as art is interesting. We've asked this question many times ourselves. HMiE? has been presented both within art contexts and not, we haven't found out yet how to label it ourselves. Sometimes labeling it as a participatory project served the purpose to present it in minimalist contexts and therefore underlying the absurdity of such act, sometimes we presented it as an activity, serving the purpose of micro-conflict-solving. We can say HMiE? is like a recipe: part art, part craft, part mess.

Thank you so much for your feedback, it helped us enormously.

apescontainer
6 years, 2 months ago

Dear Alana

Thank you so much for your feedback, inspirations and comments. We wish you could come to one of HMiE?.... we'll keep you posted.

Answering your questions:

The topics we've discussed so far are
- The use of sound for political purposes, the expansions in great spaces of big enterprises changes our urban landscapes
- Codex alimentarius, water shortage, food production and feeding habits, environment.
- Art, Migration, and Identity.
- Community and Individuality.
- Media and Religion.
- Art.
They were chosen depending on the context on a big scale, so sometimes we decided to propose a spiky subject. We normally research about the venue, occasion, possible community and then select a topic.

So far we haven't had moments of boredom (sure not!). The only time we had a bit of problems was in Amsterdam in December. We were in a cold church open to the public to visit, and in pulsing Amsterdam it's been a bit hard to convince people to stay with us to cook in the freezing cold instead of visiting Amsterdam. However, we did it three times and we had minimum 10 maximum 20 people. Participants generally are first attracted by the looks of something weird happening, then by our cordiality and finally by the action of cooking. Some of them participate because they'd like to learn the recipe, others because they find it funny. The interesting bit is that by the end (when we eat altogether sitting either at a table or on the floor), people who decided to stick with us talk as if they knew each other.

About the text: forgive the use of big words, and as a good intellectual you've pointed out big issues of our text. A "community based on confrontation", "deeper relationships" and "real dialogues" are words we've used to try and describe what we just wrote above. What HMiE? does is breaking the ice between strangers in average three minutes, the time one has before getting dirty or needing someone else to accomplish a task related to preparing the food. This aspect serves the purpose of tackling certain topics as a small community rather than a group of individuals. (i.e. We've never heard people talking about the weather).

Documentation:
you can find more documentation here:
http://neverenoughofit.com/fridge.html
and
http://neverenoughofit.com/propositions.html#Kabila

The outcomes, as you can see from the link, are a series of propositions that the newly born community of every edition of HMiE? would agree upon. Sometimes we would also compile a list of further readings emerged from the discussions. For the Art, Migration and Identity we asked the community to fill in a sort of VISA application form and then compiled a visual demographic.

Surely we could invest more in the differentiation of documentation, possibly more honest towards the project. On the other side, the choice of having digital documentation is to allow its dissemination online. We understand the limits of it, and we thank you for bringing this up.

Last, the title. How Much is Enough?'s first edition was indeed about codex alimentarius, water shortage, food production and feeding habits, environment. After the first edition though we sticked to it because we realised that it could also refer to the time needed in order to build a mini-community. It also refers to the grandma's way of cooking... "put enough salt". Lastly, the first time we did it a joke came up, that became a sort of "inside joke" with the participants: during the preparation of food, whenever someone would ask "how much salt (tomato, flour....)?" the answer would be "enough" and then "how much is enough?" "IT"S NEVER ENOUGH!". We are well aware this is not a way of justifying a title, but the tool of inside joke proved another little efficent piece of the puzzle that create the unique synergy that happens during HMiE?

Thank you so much for your feedback

Curators comments

This work has been commented by 2 curator(s):
Kevin Yuen-Kit Lo Alana Hunt go to comments ›

Entry details

Title

How Much is Enough?


Headline

Like in old times, the kitchen is the core of the house.


Concept author(s)

Eugenia Demeglio; Alberto Novello


Concept author year(s) of birth

1985; 1977


Concept author(s) contribution

We mainly initiated the project and co-devised the work together with the first facilitators. Moreover, we co-devised the preparation for the crew, making it into a series of "exercises" that work both personally as well as group-building and that are applicable for different people.


Country

Italy


Other author(s)

Valeria Cosi; Giulia Cicerale


Other author(s) year(s) of birth

1984; 1985


Other author(s) contribution

We co-devised the project together with Alberto and Eugenia and facilitated most of the editions of How Much is Enough?


Country

Italy


Competition category

mobilization


Competition field

nonacademic


Competition subfield

artist


Subfield description

APES CONTAINER is an artists-led coop­er­a­tive and a plat­form for trans­dis­ci­pli­nary col­lab­o­ra­tion, based in the Netherlands. APES CONTAINER started in Sep­tem­ber 2008, when a group of young prac­ti­tion­ers from dif­fer­ent dis­ci­plines and cul­tures came together to explore and inves­ti­gate the realms of each other’s prac­tices through inter– and trans– dis­ci­pli­nary collaborations.