About
Active Cultures is a nonprofit cultural organization that explores the convergence of food and art in contemporary life.
We believe that to nourish critical thinking and empathy we must build platforms for shared experience. In that conviction, Active Cultures creates opportunities for sustained engagement with diverse facets of our culture: in the kitchen, at the table, and within spaces for art.

Our purpose is to treat food, alongside art, as vital cultural production and to consider its history and meaning, while embedding the values of hospitality in our mission. Throughout each program season, we offer food and foodways a rich platform and broad cultural framework, while using food to gather people and make an inclusive, accessible space for contemporary art and culture. Each of our programs begin with a central collaboration between a cook or an artist (often both), and is enriched by a variety of activities, including performances, workshops, meals, and projects.

Active Cultures is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization.

Active Cultures collaborators and participants have included Niki Nakayama & Carole Iida-Nakayama, Jessica Largey, Sarah Hymanson & Sara Kramer, Norma Listman & Saqib Keval, Phil Rosenthal, Ali Wong, Carla Fernandez, Luigi Amara, Ron Finley, Kohshin Finley, Keith Corbin & Gwen Etta, Sarah Rara, Nancy Stella-Soto, Mecca Vazie Andrews, Spiral Theory Test Kitchen, Jessica Wang, Frank Oz, David Horvitz, and many others.


Co-Founders
Laura Fried
Director
Glenn Kaino
Board of Directors
Laura Fried
Glenn Kaino
Sanjay Kumar
Sarah McHale
Mary Wagstaff
Sonya Yu
Identity
Identity design and guidelines by Wkshps
Programs
Soup & Tart: Los Angeles
Saturday, March 14, 2020
4 p.m. to 9 p.m.

1200 Wall Street
Los Angeles, CA 90015
Active Cultures welcomes you to Soup & Tart: Los Angeles—a marathon evening of two-minute performances by fifty artists and delicious food by acclaimed chefs.

Taking inspiration from Soup & Tart, an event devised by Fluxus-affiliated artist Jean Dupuy in 1974, held at New York's revered downtown art space The Kitchen, Active Cultures' Soup & Tart: Los Angeles brings together artists, musicians, and dancers from across the city's cultural landscape, inviting them to use the micro window of time in any way they like: an improvisation, song, action, movement, or text. As the performances roll on, a lineup of exciting chefs serve up their takes on delicious soup and tarts for all—just as bowls of vegetable soup and French apple tarts were served when artists such as Phillip Glass, Yvonne Rainer, Arthur Russell, Laurie Anderson, and Joan Jonas entertained the crowd during the original event.

Organized by interdisciplinary performance curator Sarah Cooper, the lineup includes artists and musicians such as Julianna Barwick, Jennifer West, Sun Araw, Anna Sew Hoy, MPA, David Horvitz, Clarissa Tossin, Victoria Fu & Matt Rich, Adee Roberson, Dave Muller, Austyn Rich, Eddie Ruscha, Jr., Jasmine Nyende, Oliver Payne, Carolyn Pennypacker Riggs, Dean Spunt, Ana Roxanne, Akua, Allison Wolfe, Celia Hollander, YACHT, Cory Fogel, Geneva Jacuzzi, Molly Lewis, Alex Somers, and Gabie Strong, and many others. With dishes by Minh Phan (Porridge + Puffs), Ray Anthony Barrett (Cinqué) and several others... The full lineup will be announced soon!

Just as Dupuy's Soup & Tart took place in a pivotal moment for the artists of its generation, this experiment aims to ask what the models of earlier avant-gardes can reveal in the here and now. Poised to be a night of the unexpected, Soup & Tart: Los Angeles seeks to capture that magical sense of convening that is only possible when aided by delicious food.

Click HERE to reserve your spot! Capacity is limited.

*A contribution of $20 per person and RSVP are required, with all proceeds going directly to the evening's artists and chefs.

Soup & Tart: Los Angeles is made possible in part through the generous support of the Active Cultures Board of Directors and Founders Circle members Mehran and Laila Taslimi. Special thanks also to our venue sponsor, werkartz.
Grand Central Market
Sarah Rara
Nancy Stella Soto
Mecca Vazie Andrews

November 16 - 23, 2019
For its inaugural public project, Active Cultures brought together three Los Angeles-based artists for a community-focused collaboration in partnership with Los Angeles' historic Grand Central Market. Inspired by the Market's rich history, downtown location and diverse community, artists Sarah Rara, Nancy Stella Soto and Mecca Vazie Andrews brought together the Market's visitors and tenants as creative collaborators through a series of public workshops, open conversations and communal meals to create a sustainable, site-specific, audience-led production.

Grand Central Market is a storied and multifaceted site that has long attended to community building and economic growth through food—and like many spaces that foreground new tastes alongside generations-old practices, it provides a lens to understand growing concerns about accessibility, history, and waste. As the cultural phenomenon of food continues to flourish in practice and in the public imagination, so too do the perils of consumption, raising the question: how can we, as individuals and as a society, creatively contribute to our daily rituals in sustainable and engaged ways? This project proposes an investigation of labor, consumption, re-cycling, and creative production by unfolding the process of creation into wholesome steps that allow participants to reconsider their relationships to food, fashion and art.

Over the course of two weekends in November, visitors to the market contribute to the vision and voice of a unique production that culminate in a public performance. On Saturday, November 16, Sarah Rara leads a textile-treating workshop using foodstuffs collected from the market's tenants and deadstock materials gathered from Downtown LA's garment district, drawing inspiration from the world of text found in the food hall. On Sunday, November 17, Nancy Stella Soto guides a sewing workshop using the garments prepared the previous day to create universal, everyday clothing. On Saturday, November 23, Mecca Vazie Andrews conducts a movement workshop, culminating in a final performance where the clothing, sounds and movements created during the first two workshops are presented in an audience-led public performance.

Each day of the program featured public conversations with the artists, market tenants and chefs, as well as accessible communal meals.

This project is curated by Asha Bukojemsky.

Special thanks to BLICK Art Supplies, Designer Fabric Warehouse, Modern Brands, and The Mountain Valley Spring Water.

Schedule

Sarah Rara
Textile Workshop, Communal Lunch, and Public Conversation
Saturday, November 16
10 am - 3 pm

Nancy Stella Soto
Sewing Workshop, Communal Lunch, and Public Conversation
Sunday, November 17
10 am - 3 pm

Mecca Vazie Andrews
Artist Welcome and Movement Workshop
Saturday, November 23
1:30 pm - 4:30 pm

Mecca Vazie Andrews
Final Performance
Saturday, November 23
5:00 pm ALL ARE WELCOME
Index
Ron and Kohshin Finley, with chefs Keith Corbin and Etta James of Alta Adams, in Ron's garden, Los Angeles, September 2020. Photo by Sean Pierce.
Glenn Kaino and Niki Nakayama, The MSG Club, 2018-ongoing. Meal conceived and cooked by Sarah Hymanson and Sara Kramer and their team at Madcapra, Grand Central Market, Los Angeles, January 8, 2018. Photo by Christian Adkins.
Glenn Kaino and Niki Nakayama, The MSG Club, 2018-ongoing. Meal conceived and cooked by Niki Nakayama and Carole Iida-Nakayama and their team at n/naka, Los Angeles, October 1, 2018. Photo by Christian Adkins.
Glenn Kaino and Niki Nakayama, The MSG Club, 2018-ongoing. Meal conceived and cooked by Saqib Keval and Norma Listman and their team at Masala y Maiz, Mexico City, October 8, 2018. Photo by Ana Lorenzana.
Glenn Kaino and Niki Nakayama, The MSG Club, 2018-ongoing. Meal conceived and cooked by Spiral Theory Test Kitchen at Lee's Space in New York on November 4, 2019. Photo by Bre Johnson.
Niki Nakazawa

Niki Nakazawa was Active Cultures' Story Resident in February, 2020.
@activeculturesla

Niki Nakazawa is the Oaxaca-based co-owner of the agave spirits brand Neta. Since making her home in Mexico in 2007, she has worked across creative disciplines as a promoter and producer of music, art, film, food, and drink. In 2012 she founded experimental pop-up restaurant and catering company Pichón, deepening her knowledge in Mexican foodways, local products, and culinary history. She consulted on the mezcal offerings for the 2017 Noma pop-up in Tulum and has worked as a field producer and fixer on select episodes of the Netflix shows "Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat," "Ugly Delicious," and "Street Food."


Mina Stone
Lamb Fricassee with romaine, lemon, and dill
(Greek spring lamb stew)

Serves 6-8

2 1/2 pounds lamb shoulder cut into 2" stew pieces
extra virgin olive oil
2 bunches of scallions, chopped, white and light green parts only
1 bunch of fresh dill, chopped
1 head of romaine, washed and chopped into 1" pieces
2 eggs
Juice of 2 lemons (about 1/4 cup)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Heat a generous drizzle of olive oil in a heavy bottomed pot over medium-high heat. Sprinkle the lamb generously with salt and pepper and sear the chunks of lamb in batches. Reduce the heat to medium-low and add the scallions and half of the dill. Add the lamb back to the pot and enough water to barely cover the lamb. Cover with a lid and simmer until the lamb is very tender, about 1 1/2 hours. Add the romaine to the lamb and cook until it is nice and soft, about 10 more minutes. In a large bowl, whisk the eggs with the lemon juice. Slowly whisk in four ladlefuls of the hot broth. Slowly stream the egg, lemon, and broth mixture into the lamb. Add the rest of the dill and simmer until it just thickens, about 5 minutes. Taste for seasoning and add more salt or lemon juice to taste.

Mina Stone, lamb stew, 2020. Courtesy of Mina Stone.

"Lamb fricassee with romaine, lemon, and dill" was excerpted in Active Cultures Digest, Issue 3, February 2020.

——

Chef Mina Stone's culinary work is deeply rooted at the intersection of food and art. Most recently, Stone was the chef for artist Urs Fischer's studio for the past decade, and has cooked for a range of galleries and institutions such as Gavin Brown's Enterprise, New York. She is the author of Cooking For Artists and chef and partner of Mina's at MoMA PS1, New York.


Julianna Barwick
Tomato Bisque and Grilled Cheese

Julianna Barwick, Tomato Soup with Grilled Cheese, 2020. Courtesy of Julianna Barwick.

"Tomato Bisque and Grilled Cheese" was excerpted in Active Cultures Digest, Issue 3, February 2020.

——

Julianna Barwick is a Los Angeles-based ambient and electronic musician originally from Tulsa, Oklahoma. NPR wrote that "to listen to the music of Julianna Barwick is to be swept away; to be transported someplace sacred. It's the sound of yearning, searching and escape — thematic and tonal threads that have defined her work since the beginning of her career." Learn more about the artist here.


Victoria Fu
Napa Cabbage, Rice Vermicelli & Meatball Soup

This is a recipe passed down from my mother. It's a favorite staple that the whole family enjoys (including the toddler!), and a relatively simple recipe that can be tweaked towards individual taste. One can sub out the pork for turkey meatballs; mustard greens or other minced greens for a certain flavor or texture.

Instructions

Soak 2 bundles of rice vermicelli in warm water for 20 minutes and place aside.

Wash an entire Napa cabbage by peeling and washing each leaf, and cut each leaf in quarters. In a wok, stir fry the cabbage on medium heat until soft. Add bouillon to taste.

Prepare 1 package of ground pork by adding 1 tablespoon of cornstarch, 1-2 tablespoons of white wine, soy sauce, salt and black pepper to taste, a handful of minced ginger, diced onion, roughly chopped cilantro, chives or any greens of preference, bouillon––all to taste. Roll into meatballs, around 2 inches diameter, and place meatballs in boiling water until floating and set aside.

Place meatballs on top of cabbage in the wok. Add 1/2 carton of chicken stock and bring to boil. Put the lid on and then lower heat to a low boil. Drain and add vermicelli and add stock as desired as long as vermicelli remains submerged. Simmer for 10-15 more minutes. Serve hot.

Apron collaboration by Victoria Fu and Matthew Rich, 2020. Courtesy of the artists.

"Napa Cabbage, Rice Vermicelli & Meatball Soup" was excerpted in Active Cultures Digest, Issue 3, February 2020.

——

Victoria Fu was born in Santa Monica, California, and lives and works in San Diego and Los Angeles. She is an artist engaged in film and photography and has recently expanded her practice to include installation, performance, and sculpture. Her ongoing exploration of the ways in which light creates a sense of space, whether printed, digital, or projected, addresses our haptic relationship with images. Learn more about the artist here.


Clarissa Tossin
Carrot Soup with Ginger and Coconut Milk

Ingredients
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup chopped yellow onions
3 garlic cloves, smashed
2 heaping cups chopped carrots
1 1/2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
3 to 4 cups vegetable broth
Sea salt and fresh black pepper
1 teaspoon maple syrup, or to taste (optional)
coconut milk for garnish
dollops of pesto

Instructions

1. Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onions and a generous pinch of salt and pepper and cook until softened, stirring occasionally, about 8 minutes. Add the smashed garlic cloves (they'll get blended later) and chopped carrots to the pot and cook about 8 minutes more, stirring occasionally.

2. Stir in the ginger, then add the apple cider vinegar, and then add 3 to 4 cups of broth, depending on your desired consistency. Reduce to a simmer and cook until the carrots are soft, about 30 minutes.

3. Let cool slightly and transfer to a blender. Blend until smooth. Taste and adjust seasonings. Add maple syrup, if desired. Serve with a drizzle of coconut milk and/or a dollop of pesto, if desired.

Clarissa Tossin, The Only Lasting Truth is Change, 2019. Plaster, cement, foam, urethane, silicone, aluminum foil, 12" (diameter). Image courtesy of the artist and Commonwealth and Council.

"Carrot Soup with Ginger and Coconut Milk" was excerpted in Active Cultures Digest, Issue 3, February 2020.

——

Clarissa Tossin was born in Porto Alegre, Brazil and lives and works in Los Angeles. The artist combines sculpture, video, performance, and photography to consider ecologies of material culture production, investigating cultural hybridity and the persistence of difference. Learn more about the artist here.


The Peacock Vows ca. 1340

Feasting, in the medieval sense, involved so much more than just eating. Banquets provided the occasion for the enactment of highly ritualized ceremonies combined with spectacular displays of food and entertainment. These meals often culminated with the presentation of a show-stopping dish, the high point of the evening. A celebrated example is the great Feast of the Swans in 1306, when hundreds of knights pledged their service to Edward I and made public vows over a dish of two regal birds. The ritualization of eating formed the basis for one of the most popular French romances of the fourteenth century: Les voeux du Paon (The Peacock Vows).

Like all old tales, the story is highly allegorical and intended to be understood on multiple levels. It unfolds against the legendary backdrop of a brutal war fought between Alexander the Great and Clarus, King of India. One of Clarus's men, the young knight Porrus, is captured during battle and brought to the Chamber of Venus in the city of Epheson (Ephesus). Obviously, this is no ordinary prison. Porrus and his fellow knights find themselves, instead, in a courtly paradise, where a group of elegant ladies entreat them to play a party game: Le roi qui ne ment (The king who doesn't lie), a highly charged performance of simulated courtship--the medieval equivalent of Spin the Bottle. With the mood set, Porrus wanders through the palace gardens where he encounters a magnificent peacock splaying its feathers. Brutally, he kills it [FIGURE 1], not knowing that it was the pet of the princess Fésonas. Seemingly unbothered by this atrocity, she suggests roasting the bird and making a splendid feast out of it. At the ensuing dinner, the knights and ladies make a series of increasingly competitive vows over the peacock, binding the group together in their commitment to courtoisie (noble behavior) and chevalerie (knightly behavior), and also providing the content for the remaining 4,000 verses. While most of the women pledge their love, one lady vows to recreate the bird in gold, an object which in turn provides the occasion for another feast, and surely another adventure.

The romance survives in a number of deluxe copies that attest to its popularity among the nobility. The medieval illuminators of this text delighted in depicting the feast scenes [FIGURES 2-3], in particular, which invariably focus on the unfortunate bird, plucked of all but its luxurious tail feathers. As an emblem of courtly splendor, the peacock that is about to be eaten serves as more than just a centerpiece. It prompts a reflection on the ultimate meaning of all the pomp and circumstance surrounding it. Depicted in the most elegant fashions and trendy coiffures, the noble diners trade glances and gesture emphatically. Are they in on it? Surely not. Thanks to the artist, though, at least the reader will be.

—Joshua O'Driscoll



Jacques de Longuyon, Les voeux du paon. Belgium, Tournai, ca. 1340-50. Morgan Library & Museum, MS G.24, fols. 43v, 44r, 52r.

"The Peacock Vows" was excerpted in Active Cultures Digest, Issue 2, December 2019.

——

Joshua O'Driscoll is Assistant Curator of Medieval and Renaissance Manuscripts at the Morgan Library & Museum, New York. He is currently preparing a major exhibition on the art of the book during the Holy Roman Empire.

To find out more, see Dominic Leo, Images, Texts, and Marginalia in a "Vows of the Peacock" Manuscript (Brill, 2013); and Christina Normore, A Feast for the Eyes: Art, Performance, and the Late Medieval Banquet (University of Chicago Press, 2015).


Sarah Rara

Sarah Rara, "Shapes, Stains, Sounds," was presented in conjunction with the artist's workshop at Grand Central Market, Los Angeles, produced by Active Cultures, 2019.

——

Sarah Rara is a Los Angeles-based artist working with video, sound, and performance. She is a contributing member of the ongoing project Lucky Dragons. Her work focuses on the position of witness within fragile systems. Her work, solo and in collaboration, has been presented at such institutions as the Whitney Museum of American Art (as part of the 2008 Whitney Biennial); the Hammer Museum; Documenta 14 in Athens; the Centre Georges Pompidou; Walker Art Center in Minneapolis; London's Institute for Contemporary Art; PS1 in New York; REDCAT and LACMA in Los Angeles; MOCA Los Angeles; the 54th Venice Biennale; and the Smithsonian's Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden; among others.


On Becoming Ben Kinmont

Being an artist isn't exactly like being a chef—both professions share a litany of affinities in their pursuits of intellectual and sensory tantalization, and both must feed a relentless appetite for innovation. But everyone needs to eat, no matter how humble the dish. Art has different stakes, and being an artist is a job that often goes unpaid and unrecognized. This isn't lost on Ben Kinmont, an artist who began a piece twenty years ago titled Sometimes a nicer sculpture is to be able to provide a living for your family, and opened an antiquarian bookselling company, specialising in cookbooks and culinary texts. Raised in an artistic family, Kinmont bore witness to the realities of a career in the art world, particularly during a time when art resisted the market, demanded alternatives for itself, and sought a way out of the white cube.

After launching the company, Kinmont was invited to participate in the Centre Pompidou's Nouveau Festival in Paris. There he distributed a large broadside printed with seven short paragraphs, each describing the path of an individual artist who stopped being an artist and became something else—paragraphs that are not unlike the size and scope of this one. The text, On becoming something else, makes clear these weren't chronicles of failures, or cautionary tales of a fallen genius, but rather a collection of instances where an artist's obsessions, concerns, and questions naturally led them to a place where their work was more effective, and that just happened to be in a different profession than "artist." Lygia Clark, for example, whose body-activated sculptures grew to be more and more concerned with their healing potential, saw her work evolve into a full-time psychotherapy practice. Just as the modern era saw art step off the canvas onto the wall, into the room, out the door and onto the street, onto land, and into life, these artists made art that went a step further and left art behind. The start of each of these paragraphs is punctuated, in bold type, by the declaration of the artists' metamorphosed field: activism, social work, farming, medicine, yoga.

In a column aligned with each paragraph is the name of culinary dish, a Parisian chef, and the address of their restaurant. Kinmont invited these seven chefs to design a dish inspired by one of the artists, making the broadside something of a menu. Laurie Parsons' turn to social work conjured beets roasted in a crust of natural grey sea salts from Guerande in Brittany in the mind of chef Alain Passard. Those visiting the Pompidou would need to go out into the city and find the various restaurants serving the dishes to complete the piece, effectively prompting the viewer to exit the art space themselves and enter new contexts in the outside world—specifically restaurants, which like museums, are often like small theaters for playacting a heightened charade signaling certain taste and class. The meal is not just the most quotidien daily ritual, but an opportunity to acknowledge the structures that governs us. Like good art, a well crafted meal builds a thoroughfare between histories and cultures, stretching out time, so something that exists only to be digested is simultaneously infinite, giving life for the future.

In constructing this constellation of once-artists, Kinmont implicates himself as one of their brethren. We don't need to ask a chef to select the perfect dish to pair with Kinmont's journey, as he already implied the best choice: distributed as an accompaniment to the broadside was the reprint of an essay by the influential fin-de-siècle art and literary critic (and notorious anarchist), Félix Fénéon. While well-known for introducing figures like Arthur Rimbaud and Georges Seurat to society, Fénéon's thoughts on pastry are less widely acknowledged. Kinmont circulated his 1922 investigation into the history of the pièce montée, the most flamboyant constructions of the French patisserie that since the 17th century have served as showstopping centerpieces at weddings and palace parties. The pièce montée typically involves multiple tiers of nougat pedestals supporting towers of choux pastry stuffed with cremes and jams, laced with spun sugar, and adorned with countless meticulously constructed details. Fénéon chronicles a history of artisans that fluctuate somewhere between chef, sculptor, landscaper, set designer, and architect. In fact these master cake-builders constructed confections so elaborate as to have "pavilions, rotundas, temples, ruins, towers, belvederes, forts, waterfalls, fountains, huts, mills and hermitages," often depicting Napoleonic conquests, adorned with fireworks, and overall "more heroic than the initial military operation." Seeing as though these masters were sought after by the very same collectors of Cezannes and Picassos, Fénéon surmises that "some day museums will have departments devoted to pastry work."

For Kinmont, Fénéon's history of chef-sculptors signals what he sees as a parallel art history, one that can't be found in halls of stately museums or royal collections—as these masterpieces have all been ceremonially eaten. It is their "extreme perishability" that begs the question: "What efforts of breathtaking artistic achievement have existed, but leave no trace except for their myths?" Like a pièce montée, Kinmont's On becoming something else is a construction of many small, glued-together parts, and an exercise in temporality, where something can exist as a work of art in one stage moves on to be absorbed into something else, and ultimately fall into other histories—ones that exist on the messy fringes of what we call art.

—Sarah Cooper

Ben Kinmont, On becoming something else, Antinomian Press, 2009. Letterpress broadside. Courtesy of the artist and Air de Paris, Paris.

Georg Andreas Böckler, Der Nützlichen Hauss... 1699. Full page engraving. Getty Research Institute, Los Angeles.

"On Becoming Ben Kinmont" was excerpted in Active Cultures Digest, Issue 2, December 2019.

——

Sarah Cooper organizes creative interdisciplinary museum performances and programs. Currently, she is the Public Programs Specialist at the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles, focused on music, performance, film, and artist-driven programs. She has organized programs with artists and musicians including Kim Gordon, Brendan Fernandes, Rafa Esparza, Lonnie Holley, Martin Creed, Midori Takada, Helado Negro, and Solange Knowles. In addition, Sarah has collaborated on performances by Yvonne Rainer and Patti Smith with the Getty Research Institute, the Trisha Brown Dance Company with the Center for the Art of Performance at UCLA, and on the LA Phil's Fluxus Festival.

From 2006 to 2013, she organized programs at The Museum of Modern Art in New York as part of the PopRally Committee, in addition to serving as the Manager of the Department of Prints & Illustrated Books. At MoMA, Sarah assisted on various exhibitions, collection initiatives, and programs including artists such as Jasper Johns, William Kentridge, Rirkrit Tiravanija, Ed Ruscha, and Louise Bourgeois. Sarah has held positions at The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York, the Royal Academy of Arts, the Whitechapel Art Gallery, Cubitt Artists Gallery in London, and The Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh. She holds a Master's Degree in Art History from Hunter College. Her thesis, Expanding Experimentalism: Popular Music and Art at the Kitchen in New York City, 1971-1985, explores the creative output of artists' bands and the relationship between popular music and avant-garde performance practices.

Ben Kinmont is an artist, publisher, and antiquarian bookseller living in Sebastopol, California. His work is concerned with the value structures surrounding an art practice and what happens when that practice is displaced into a non-art space. Since 1988 his work has been project-based with an interest in archiving and blurring the boundaries between artistic production, publishing, and curatorial practices.

In the past few years he has taught courses in the Social Practices Program at the California College of Arts as well as organized various workshops with students from the École des Beaux-Arts in France (Angers, Bordeaux, Bourges, and Valence), Cranbrook Academy in the US, and the Rietveld Academy in Holland. Exhibitions include those at Air de Paris, MAXXI (Rome), Whitney Biennial 2014, ICA (London), CNEAI (Chatou), Kadist Art Foundation (Paris & San Francisco), the 25th International Biennial of Graphic Arts (Ljubljana), the Frac Languedoc-Roussillon (Montpellier), Documenta 11 (Kassel), Les Abattoirs (Toulouse), the Pompidou, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, and a traveling survey show of Kinmont's work entitled "Prospectus" (Amsterdam, Paris, New York, and San Francisco). He is also the founder of the Antinomian Press, a publishing enterprise which supports project art and ephemera (the archive of which is in the collection of drawings and prints at MOMA).


Cooking Sections
Mussels Will Work It Out

"I didn't know these muscles existed!," we say when we sense the unworked insides of our body, when we find ourselves sore in a new place.

"I didn't know these mussels existed!," we say when we recognize the disappearance of the California mussel, a threatened bivalve living in Pacific waters.

You are standing on Mussel Beach, a place where before human muscles, there were mollusk-ular mussels.

You may well wonder how oiled muscles overtook salt-watered mussels; how shaping biceps, butts, pecs, traps, and triceps is deeply entwined with mussels, barnacles, oysters, and clams.

Before the LA coast was shaped, before Venice was dug out and drained, you wouldn't have been surrounded by California palms, but by what frontier boosters called an "uninhabitable swamp." But the shellfish-laden wetland, where Mussel Beach sits today, had been a food source for the Kizh Nation for over 7,000 years, until they were enslaved by the Spanish to build San Gabriel Mission.

Before there was a sandy beach, there was an oil field. If this was 1938, you would be standing in between derricks pumping petrochemicals out of the ground.

When the oil ran out, these no-man's-lands became marginal-man's-lands: iron men and queer souls began to gather on the artificial beach and newly paved grounds to exercise and re-form their bodies.

The original Muscle Beach formed naturally in Santa Monica. The open-air gym fed off the unique demographics of LA's body-centric subcultures: beach boys, Nature boys, surfer boys, skateboarders, pin-up girls, acrobats, gymnasts; Hollywood stunts, hunks, and navy men.

As oil wells ran dry, gallons of suntan oil began to flow instead.

Over the past 100 years, mussels have experienced one of the highest rates of species extinction in the US. But mussels still hang onto the last rocks of Venice Beach as they train and fortify themselves against the elements—and us.

Mussels can also teach us how to toughen up. Just like humans, mussels evolved to exercise their muscles.

The rocky shore is the mussel gym, where mussels train to fight against daily cycles of fatigue and stress: air temperatures rise and drop, waves crashing or receding leave them exposed to the sun, cold currents intermix with hot currents, concentrations of chemicals and plastics in the water vary.

In the intertidal gym, mussels compete with other animals and plants for space. Chains of fused mussel shells may look lifeless, but they are constantly working out. With every wave, the shells are ready to quickly open.

To resist ocean acidification, California mussels are building thicker shells. For thousands of years, shell thickness has been relatively uniform. But the ocean chemistry is changing. Mussels from the 1970s were very different from the mussels of today. The crystals in mussel shells are becoming smaller and more disorganized. With more magnesium in the water, mussels are losing control over what they are actually doing. There is a new routine at the intertidal gym.

Remember. With every mussel you eat, you build muscle. With every muscle you build, you help cultivate mussels.
Those mussels do exist.
Eat, repeat. Be shellfish.



This piece is an edited excerpt from Mussel Beach, commissioned by the City of Los Angeles DCA for CURRENT:LA Public Art Triennial 2019.

"Mussels Will Work It Out" was featured in Active Cultures's Digest, Issue 1, November 2019.

——

Cooking Sections (Daniel Fernández Pascual & Alon Schwabe) is a duo of spatial practitioners based out of London. It was born to explore the systems that organize the WORLD through FOOD. Using installation, performance, mapping and video, their research-based practice explores the overlapping boundaries between visual arts, architecture and geopolitics. Since 2015, they have been working on multiple iterations of the long-term site-specific CLIMAVORE project exploring how to eat as humans change climates. In 2016 they opened The Empire Remains Shop, a platform to critically speculate on implications of selling the remains of Empire today. Their first book about the project was published by Columbia Books on Architecture and the City.

Cooking Sections was part of the exhibition at the U.S. Pavilion, 2014 Venice Architecture Biennale. Their work has also been exhibited at the 13th Sharjah Biennial; CURRENT:LA 2019, Manifesta12, Palermo; Lafayette Anticipations, Paris; Serpentine Galleries, London; Atlas Arts, Skye; Neue Nationalgalerie, Berlin; Storefront for Art & Architecture, New York; Peggy Guggenheim Collection; HKW Berlin; Akademie der Künste, Berlin; 2016 Oslo Architecture Triennale; Brussels ParckDesign; and have been residents in The Politics of Food at Delfina Foundation, London. They currently lead a studio unit at the Royal College of Art, London.
Andrea Gyorody
Andrea Gyorody is the Digest Guest Editor.

Andrea Gyorody is the Ellen Johnson '33 Assistant Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art at the Allen Memorial Art Museum at Oberlin College. Her recent exhibitions include Afterlives of the Black Atlantic (2019-20), co-curated with Matthew Francis Rarey; Forms Larger and Bolder: Eva Hesse Drawings (2019-20), co-curated with Barry Rosen; and THE RENDERING (H X W X D =), a major commission by Barbara Bloom for the inaugural FRONT International: Cleveland Triennial for Contemporary Art. Gyorody has previously held positions at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Getty Research Institute, and Museum of Contemporary Art Los Angeles. A specialist in twentieth- and twenty-first-century European and American art, her writing has appeared in Artforum, Hyperallergic, Gastronomica: The Journal of Food and Culture, The Sixties: A Journal of History, Politics and Culture, and The Art of War (Peter Lang, 2018). She received a PhD from the University of California, Los Angeles, an MA from the Williams College Graduate Program in the History of Art, and a BA from Amherst College. She is currently developing exhibitions and programs on art and food as they intersect with environmentalism and social justice; on Hannah Wilke and the decay of latex-based sculpture; and on resurgent modes of Surrealism in contemporary art.

Dorothy Iannone
The Darling Duck

Grasp gently one of the finest ducks you can find (which presumably has shown no reluctance to wander into your hands) and throw it a few kisses with a smile directed from your heart and eyes half closed by the pleasurable expectation of finally (maybe) letting go.

Let the duck's acceptance of your loving ways catapult you into those altitudes you always knew were best for you. Soaring higher all the time, pamper your duck with new and unexpected embraces.

Now take a well-earned rest. And your lover who is, for the purposes of this recipe, sometimes your lover and sometimes your duck, and with whom you are, as is desirable, cooking will perhaps move you into his arms and bend you forward a little bit so that he may spread his gifted hand over your alert ass. It could be that your remarks about the mortality of cooks delight him or maybe he can't resist sampling the feast you are so eager to offer. And you, possibly because you have never had the opportunity to entirely deliver that which you have, in one way or another, promised and on the existence of which you may have (almost) staked your life, will possibly drop to your knees and kiss your lover's shoes because you hope like hell that he is the ideal dinner companion. (And if he reciprocates, why then, so much the closer.) The great chefs never tire of telling us that, since this dish takes so long to prepare, one may tranquilly make love not only during its preparation but also before the cooking begins as well as forever after the meal.

So there you are, hanging around the kitchen in ecstasy. It would not hurt, for possible future use (with the salad, maybe) to squeeze a lemon right now and to set it aside. Should your lover squeeze the lemon with all his might and say, "You wish I would squeeze your ass this way, don’t you," just let it go with a simple gasp. It is quite natural for the soul to be seized while preparing the darling duck.

It is not for everyone, not for the very young, for instance, but it would not hurt to drop a tear or two somewhere in the nearness of your duck because, remembering the past, you neither deny nor object that the future might someday bring another thousand tears or two.

It may seem that the actual culinary progress is rather slow. Yet experience has shown that a darling duck cannot be speeded up. When you finally feast upon it you will rejoice that you did not deny its preparation one less moment of your time. Is anything more important, after all, than that which will satisfy your hunger for heaven.

Another thing to be said outrightly about this duck is that, amazingly, (as implied), when properly treated, one cannot ever eat it away. It lasts for as long as you have the art and the heart to keep it going. Admittedly, an eternal duck is rare, but then it is, after all, the most desired feast of the world. I know that your oven has been preheated.

A duck is roasted, they say, with a steady moderately high heat which slowly penetrates the interior and gives the exterior a glowing color which attracts all the world, and an aroma which stimulates the faith of the cook. Sometimes, depending on circumstances, one may turn on all the heat and, sometimes, one may relax the oven. Although the darling duck has many faces, the central nourishment is always the same, a tasty, juicy, warm and tender flying darling. Loving pasta, in a different way, as much as I love duck, it has always vaguely disturbed me that the two could not be eaten together. In this fact, no doubt, lies a deep culinary secret. Perhaps, one must be thankful to have another love, like pasta, say, which can be enjoyed on those days when ducks inscrutably may not permit themselves to be enjoyed. For that matter, I'm crazy about lobsters, too. Your darling duck, you will find, loves independence and is, rightly, not at all bothered by pasta or lobster. It is wise beyond belief and cherishes your welcoming smile when, after extended moments apart, you once again close in upon each other.

Here are some of the aspects the darling duck might finally, for instance, take : it can lie on a bed of golden polenta or be surrounded by mounds of wild rice or set off by slices of roast potatoes or joined by a barley, onion and mushroom casserole. Maybe you have filled it with apples and prunes, or with sauerkraut, onions and apples, or stuffed it with cooked noodles (well, this is the exception which proves the rule), slices of cooked heart and liver and with cloves, honey, beer, egg yolks and cream (!), not forgetting the orange sauce with port wine accompaniment. Or, perhaps, you have marinated it in soy sauce and powdered ginger, or basted it with curry and honey and served it with rice, chutney and even bananas in oil and vinegar. Or perhaps you adorn it with pineapple slices cooked in butter and sugar, or you cut it into pieces and mix it with lentils, sausages, garlic, parsley and red wine. Some people even like it with an orange glaze and a Grand Marnier sauce. Or, maybe, you prepare a gravy of finely chopped innards with butter, flour and duck broth. Or you just serve it in its own juices and concentrate on the darling, unadorned duck.

There is nothing in the world which, properly and lovingly prepared, can match the ecstasy this firm and yielding darling is willing to offer you.

If it should happen that It doesn't work out on the first or fifth or sixth try (so much could go wrong!), the important thing is to keep your appetite for it alive and your hope of achieving it as strong as it was the first time around.

People who have stood by the promise of an eternal duck say that in fact, just trying for it keeps you flying more and more closely to its own ultimate altitude, there where the deepest, duckiest dreams of the world come true.

STILL, THE UNBELIEVERS SHOULD NOT GO AWAY HUNGRY. AND FOR THEM, HERE'S A CONCRETE LOBSTER WITH SPAGHETTI RECIPE:

2 live lobsters — 1 1/2 pounds each
1 cup canned tomatoes
1/3 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 clove garlic, minced
3 tablespoons water
1 small onion, chopped
2/3 cup dry white wine
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon oregano
Fresh black pepper
1 pound pasta, cooked, drained

1. Wash lobsters. Cut spinal cord by inserting knife where tail and body meet. Turn lobsters on their backs and split lengthwise. Cut each tail into three pieces. Cut off claws and crack.
2. Heat oil in skillet. add lobsters, cook over high heat 3-4 minutes until red. Add garlic, onion, seasonings and cook, stirring 2 minutes.
3. Add tomatoes, and tomato paste blended with water, and cook, turning constantly, one minute.
4. Add wine, parsley and oregano, and cook about 10 minutes, turning frequently.
5. Pour sauce over spaghetti and garnish platter with lobster.

Serves 2—4





Dorothy Iannone, The Darling Duck, 1983/84. © photo Marc Domage Courtesy Peres Projects, Berlin and Air de Paris, Paris

"The Darling Duck" was excerpted in Active Cultures Digest, Issue 1, November 2019.

——

Dorothy Iannone (b. 1933, Boston, Massachusetts) lives and works in Berlin, Germany. Recent solo exhibitions have been presented at venues including the Centre Culturel Suisse, Paris, France (2016); Migros Museum, Zurich, Switzerland (2014); Berlinische Galerie, Berlin, Germany (2014); Camden Arts Centre, London, England (2013); Palais de Tokyo, Paris, France (2013); the New Museum, New York City (2009); Kunsthalle Wien, Vienna, Austria (2006); and The Wrong Gallery, Tate Modern, London, England (2005). Iannone's work has been included in group exhibitions at institutions such as MAMCO, Geneva, Switzerland (2017); Museu de Arte de São Paulo (MASP), São Paulo, Brazil (2017); Hammer Museum, Los Angeles (2016); and Hamburger Bahnhof, Berlin, Germany (2015). Her work has been featured in major international exhibitions including the 2nd Athens Biennal, Athens, Greece (2009); Whitney Biennial, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York (2006); Berlin Biennial for Contemporary Art, Berlin, Germany (2005); Friends of Fluxus Exhibition, collateral event to the 48th Venice Biennale, Venice, Italy (1999); and Daniel Spoerri, Moulin des Jouissances, collateral event to the 37th Venice Biennale, Venice, Italy (1976).

Spiral Theory Test Kitchen

Living on the edge
play of the fragility of our collective life
of our everyday
redirecting towards fullness towards
big thank you
full, waiting for you to keep filling
trust me up
& send the prayer through

This poem was featured in Active Cultures's Digest, Issue 1, November 2019.

——

Spiral Theory Test kitchen is a queer food project ~ angel life as lived praxis. Bliss frequencies beckoning the songs of our spiraling life. STTK engages food as a psychosexual object that enacts anti-alienation through desire and the desire under desire. Communal breakdown of the self, resisting effacement through an earthly and otherworldly paradise.

STTK is comprised of Precious Okoyomon, Quori Theodor & Bobbi Menuez.

Jessica Wang

Jessica Wang was Active Cultures' Story Resident in October, 2019.
@activeculturesla

Jessica Wang is a Chinese American food advocate and entrepreneur based in Los Angeles. She is the founder of Picklé, an educational pickling workshop project. Her work is influenced by art, personal health encounters, and a diverse cultural upbringing––including her teen years spent in Chiang Mai, Thailand. With an academic background in fine art, art education experience, and a decade spent in professional kitchens combined with a passion for sharing the wonders of fermentation and mindful living, Ms. Wang has naturally grown into a host of creative educational pickling and cooking experiences.

Connect
Digest
Digest is a steady collection of recipes and dispatches from our collaborators near and far, delivered to your inbox.
Story Residents
Practitioners across disciplinary fields take up our stories on Instagram, sharing collaborations, consumption, and the rituals of their daily practice.

Please visit @activiceculturesla to follow our current resident!
News & Press
More about AC in the media.

VOGUE | December 4, 2019 | Rachel Hahn
"Spiral Theory Test Kitchen Wants to Change the Way You Taste"

HYPERALLERGIC | November 13, 2019 | Matt Stromberg
"Three Artists Engage with the Layered History of L.A.s Grand Central Market"

FORBES | April 22, 2019 | Megy Karydes
"Los Angeles Nonprofit is Using Food and Art to Offer New Experiences, Offer Deeper Discussions"

Interested in being to be added to our press list?
Send an email with your contact info here
Shop
Coming Soon!
Support
Support Active Cultures with a fully tax-deductible gift and help make our programs—and our future—possible! Your generosity helps us create opportunities for the most exciting and vital voices in food to experiment alongside the most important artists of our time, while inviting anyone and everyone to share.