Is Food Art: Notes from Grimm Ales, Brooklyn


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In early September, the SoFAB Institute presented a panel discussion asking “Is food art?” at the New School in New York as part of Culinaria Query, The national inquiry comes to close in New Orleans on October 10, 2013 with a special presentation by Ken Albala. For information, please visit this page.

Lauren Carter Grimm and Joe Grimm of Grimm Ales argued that food is not art on the Culinaria Query panel at the New School in New York City.

Lauren_Lauren Grimm is an interdisciplinary artist and co-founder of Grimm Artisanal Ales.  Using video, found objects, painting/drawing, she seeks to unveil the politics and aesthetics of the mundane in contemporary culture. As an avid homebrewer turned professional fermentationist, she is passionate about concocting distinctive, unusual, and elegant ales.  Lauren brings her artistic background and ingenuity to bear on all aspects of Grimm Artisanal Ales, from recipe formulation to label design.  She is a pioneer of “nomadic brewing,” a traveling brewmaster who makes limited edition, small batch beers wherever she can find space in other breweries’ fermenters. Lauren Grimm holds BA in Visual Art from Brown and a MFA in Sculpture from  Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC). 
 
Joe_Joe Grimm is an artist, musician, and co-founder of Grimm Artisanal Ales, an upstart brewing company in Brooklyn, NY. Grimm’s artwork has been shown at institutions such as CAPC Bordeaux, La Casa Encendida in Madrid, Bezalel Gallery in Tel Aviv, and MCA Chicago. In his music career he has performed with The Dirty Projectors, 33.3, and solo as The Wind Up Bird. He has also taught sound art as adjunct professor at Mass Art and Emerson College. As nomadic brewer, he travels to other breweries to make small batch, limited edition beers with a slow food ethos.  Brewing with no fixed address, Grimm hopes to thicken the plot with regard to what it means to be “local” in the first place. Joe Grimm has a BA in Philosophy from Yale, an MA from Brown in Computer Music, and a MFA in sound art from SAIC (School of the Art Institute of Chicago).

About Grimm Ales

Lauren and Joe have been experimenting with the near-magical transformative qualities of yeasts since 2005.  Initial experiments in their apartment kitchen with mead, hard cider, kombucha, kvass, and ginger beer soon gave way to a fascination with Belgian-style ales.

While on tour in Europe playing music, Joe made a stop in Brussels, Belgium.  It was there that he became transfixed by the complexity of Belgian beers. After arriving back in the states, he raved about his recent experiences with these intoxicating beverages. Soon after, Joe and Lauren began tasting beers methodically in order to teach themselves about the subtle and distinctive qualities of malt, hops, and yeast that created the aromas and flavors of their favorite beers. They eagerly researched techniques for beer-making, and started brewing five-gallon batches in their apartment to drink and give to their friends.

As more and more people began to share their excitement for the homebrews that they had been making, the two began brewing beer on the sly for gallery events in Chicago, where they were living at the time. “Buy a cookie. Get a free beer!” It was such a success that they began thinking about brewing beer on a larger scale.

This about brings us up-to-date.  Nowadays, the two have made their home in the Gowanus neighborhood of Brooklyn, New York and are brewing beer as nomadic brewers at existing breweries wherever the fermenting tanks are available. They make their beer with the highest quality ingredients always bringing their creativity and ingenuity to the brewing process. With this in mind, they seek to push the boundaries of beer styles in order to create beers with the utmost depth and complexity.

What follows are Lauren and Joe’s images and notes from the slide show they used at the NYC panel.

Mondrian

Mondrian

Mondrian:

Formalism is the judgment of the art object through purely perceptual means (color, form, movement, balance, etc.)

elBulli kitchen. Photo by Gereon Wetzel

elBulli kitchen. Photo by Gereon Wetzel

El Bulli:

-Judgment of food is inherently formalist (taste, color, texture, form, etc.)

-The history of modern art is the history of artists continually throwing established systems of value into question.

-Let’s look at the ways in which artists from the 60’s to the present have used food in art.

meatjoy.1_1

Carolee Schneemann – Meat Joy (1964)

Carolee Schneemann – Meat Joy (1964) – raw fish, chickens, sausages, wet paint, transparent plastic, rope brushes, paper scrap:

– For the past century, artists have continued to question the system of value for art. The use of non-traditional art materials – in the case of Carolee Schneemann’s “Meat Joy”, meat and fish – is an example of this.  It is a deliberate move away from formalism.

Allan Kaprow "household" (1964)

Allan Kaprow “household” (1964)

Allan Kaprow – his happening “household” (1964):

-By using everyday objects including food, the artist is bringing life into closer proximity with art. The distance inherent to formalism is being questioned and reduced.

Janine Antoni, "Lick and Lather," detail, 1993. 7 soap and 7 chocolate self-portrait busts, 24 x 16 x 13 inches each. Collection of Jeffrey Deitch, New York. Photo by John Bessler.

Janine Antoni, “Lick and Lather,” detail, 1993. 7 soap and 7 chocolate self-portrait busts, 24 x 16 x 13 inches each. Collection of Jeffrey Deitch, New York. Photo by John Bessler.

Janine Antoni – Lick and Lather (1993)

Sophie Calle – Chromatic Diet (1997)

Félix González-Torres (American, 1957–1996). "Untitled" (Portrait of Ross in L.A.), 1991. Candies individually wrapped in multicolored cellophane, endless supply. Overall dimensions vary with installation, ideal weight: 175 lb. The Art Institute of Chicago; promised gift of Donna and Howard Stone.

Félix González-Torres (American, 1957–1996). “Untitled” (Portrait of Ross in L.A.), 1991. Candies individually wrapped in multicolored cellophane, endless supply. Overall dimensions vary with installation, ideal weight: 175 lb. The Art Institute of Chicago; promised gift of Donna and Howard Stone.

Felix Gonzalez-Torres – Untitled (Portrait of Ross in L.A.) (1991):

-Sophie Calle, Felix Gonzalez-Torres, and Janine Antoni all question formalism by mixing formalist and non-formalist modes of art-making. In doing so, they’re making an accusation of emptiness, that formalist art is meaningless.

Alinea Foie Gras, fig, coffee, tarragon. Photo by Edsel Little, via Flickr

Alinea: foie Gras, fig, coffee, tarragon. Photo by Edsel Little, via Flickr

Alinea :

-Food that looks like art (El Buli, Alinea, etc.) is not making the same critiques that artists who use food in their work are making.

-A restaurant like Alinea is using the same criteria for judgment that we used during the 1930s to judge high art.  But the art world in the past 80 years has moved on.

– When we judge Schneemann’s work, we judge it not on how visually appealing it is, but on its political and social dialogue.

A label from Grimm Ales. Label artwork by Gretta Johnson

A label from Grimm Ales. Label artwork by Gretta Johnson

Grimm:

-Even though we’re artists and we make high-quality artisanal beer, we do not want to call it art. We don’t want it to be related to art historical dialogue. Many things that we want in art, we do not want in our food and drink. We want our beer to be judged for its flavors, aroma, mouthfeel, etc.

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