Sunday, December 28, 2008

The Starving Artist's Cookbook

video project 1986-1991 by Paul Lamarre and Melissa P. Wolf

Food is most replicable and arguably most consumable in its video form. What good thinking that these fine folk got down to it back in the late '80s, and documented the nitty-gritty fats-soluble basics of eating on a genius budget.

Thanks to Lamarre and Wolf, we can watch artists from John Cage to John Sex cooking for themselves in their natural, East Village environments...and savor the historical, political, and of course aesthetic implications of these meals. Here's a better-worded excerpt from their own summary...

"The intent of The STARVING ARTISTS' COOKBOOK and VIDEO SERIES was to capture the end of an era—the artist's lifestyle as exemplified by what he/she cooked and ate. It was clear to us that there was a breakdown of the art community in New York with the privatization of the art world and the birth of the "art star"—we wanted to catch on tape the other side of this story. As artists ourselves we were in direct contact with a diverse group of artists which had connections going back to the fifties—that golden era of the New York art world...While expounding on the artists' relationship between art and life, THE STARVING ARTISTS' COOKBOOK is also a portrait series on the artist in society; and a video documentation of the socialeconomic condition of the arts community in downtown New York and internationally."

It has been my privileged to bear witness to the tail end of Manhattan gentrification and the collapse of NY's artistic community while growing up in the city. I walked alone quite late along E. 6th Street two nights ago, from the Bowery to Avenue C...the only sense of menace came from cabs and overpriced vegan bakeries. I know the artistic community here has found districts for itself in the far north tip of Manhattan, Queens, the Bronx...but the locus of the city has become the playground of the rich. A splintering of a group is a loss. Transportation becomes difficult, and even classic-to-the-point-of-staid New York artists like choreographer Paul Taylor and his company have been ousted from old Manhattan real-estate, and set adrift.

I know this Cookbook dishes on an economic art-world shift of a slightly different nature, but it falls very close to my personal grudge.

And Art being what it is nowadays, I can't even afford the book record of this project, which I'd dearly love to own: FOOD SEX ART: STARVING ARTISTS COOKBOOK, available for a paltry
$272.94 used from Amazon.

Well. I'll just have to go off and make some FOOD SEX ART of my own.

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