Making, distributing and consuming food is central to human history, from the development of agriculture, which marks one of the first stages of human civilization, and developing into a global trade in foodstuffs (spices, pasta) during the great ages of exploration. Even a queen’s invocation ‘Let them eat cake’ has been invested with the power to spark a revolution in which food inequality came to be seen as both symbol and catalyst. Today, the global reality of industrial food production and distribution has redefined the meaning of concepts such as natural, healthy and sustainable. Food’s symbolic power continues to shape us: from the provocative sexuality of eating a hamburger in fast food advertisements to the proliferation of ‘food porn’ (with its 16th century origins) across social media to the complex political and moral questions surrounding food security. Put simply, food is the common denominator for all human life.
One way to better understand the deeper significance of food is through the diversity of its expressions in art, through which food’s varied and complex layers of meaning are represented. In this spirit, students are encouraged to create their own artistic responses to this theme, which will be joined with those of special guests in an exhibition that will take place at the end of the semester.