Futurism For FoodiesAug. 12, 2011
Every so often someone throws a Futurist dinner party serving food-things like espresso-soaked salami spritzed with cologne or deep-fried red roses, both dishes from F. T. Marinetti’s 1936 manifesto The Futurist Cookbook. The latest revival is performance-art company banished? productions’ The Tactile Dining Car, a participatory dining and performance installation at Flashpoint Gallery in Washington, D.C., Sept. 9-24, 2011.
At the center of the exhibition is a car sculpture that banished? productions co-founder Carmen Wong said was inspired by a Mercedes Roadster, with elements recalling the design of Buckminster Fuller, Isamu Noguchi and Italian carmaker Bugatti. On weekend nights, viewers can buy tickets for $25 to a cafeteria-style dinner served in the gallery, with semi-edible, Futurist-inspired dishes plated, and occasionally prepared, inside the car. These evening “activations,” as they’re being called, last about 30 minutes and accommodate 10 or 12 guests per session.
So, what’s on the menu?
For starters, there’s a scent-based interpretation of Marinetti’s “Aerofood:” olive, fennel and kumquat that was to be eaten with the right hand while the left hand touches a square of sandpaper, silk and velvet, all while waiters spritz diners’ necks with carnation perfume and the sound of an airplane motor emanates from the kitchen.
Then there’s a version of “Chicken Fiat,” originally a roasted chicken stuffed with ball bearings. That recipe may be toned down in this exhibition because of potential liability issues, however -- “you’d be surprised how those ball bearings get pretty well hidden,” Wong said.
Plus, Wong and company worked with a chef to create the “Perfected Pizza,” a capsule that releases cheese and sauce flavors when chewed. And there’s an iPhone Quick Response code that viewers can scan to link to “food-porn” images, like “crushed up doughnuts that just somehow look dirty.”
For those who can’t -- or don’t want to -- attend the dinner, the exhibition is open during regular gallery hours. During this time, an actor playing a Marinetti-like character projected on a screen guides visitors through the show. Meanwhile, a soundscape of Futurist-style acoustic noisemakers, known as “intonarumori,” plays, alongside car-racing sounds. Presumably this is meant to evoke the 1908 car crash that sent Marinetti flying through the air and into his new Futurist future.