EAT FOOD POLICY: FEAST
In early 2023 Kunstverein Aughrim presented Eat Food Policy, a generative feast by artist Deirdre O’Mahony.
Taking place on 25 January 2023 at City Assembly House, Dublin, Eat Food Policy was part of O’Mahony’s ongoing project Sustainment Experiments, responding to the urgent need for a multidisciplinary approach to food production, farming, and the climate crisis. For this Dublin iteration of the feast, twenty-four farmers, food producers, scientists, politicians, and policymakers were invited to share their first-hand experiences of the challenges of farming today. The artist collaborated with cook Clare-Anne O'Keefe to devise a menu focused on food policies, health and climate change.
The event was modelled on an eighteenth-century feast hosted by a French scientist, Antoine Augustin Parmentier, who helped transform public health by changing attitudes towards the potato, then believed to be unfit for human consumption. Following Parmentier's example, all courses of the Dublin feast used the potato as a one of the ingredients. Courses were introduced by the cook, a Bean an Tí, the Artist and a Food Writer who each encouraged participants to think beyond their habitual positions and to share ideas on what sustainable food production might mean in the future.
Each course was served on ceramic tableware designed and made by the artist to activate the conversation. The exterior of the porcelain tableware is imprinted with root systems, the interior references soil, water and plant life. Cast porcelain potato cups in various shapes and sizes served as reminders of the potato, a familiar crop with immense cultural value. Monochromatic painted images of agrarian details from French monuments to Parmentier hung from the walls, ensuring his presence was felt throughout the event.
Participants were advised in advance that the dinner conversations were audio recorded for later transcription (with microphones embedded in table-top potatoes). However comments and opinions will not be attributed to individuals in any future dissemination. Transcripts of feast conversations will be relayed to audiences at public events for additional comment and feedback throughout 2023 and used as source material for a new moving image artwork called The Quickening that reflects the multiple perspectives encountered during feasts and other events.
Artist: Deirdre O’Mahony
Bean an Tí: Etaoin Holahan
Fool/Other: Bridget O’Gorman
Table Host: Caitríona Devery
Cook: Clare Anne O’Keefe
Sound: Guillaume Beauron
Design: Daly & Lyon
Photography: Ros Kavanagh
Costumes/props: Bog Cottage
Team: Colin, Maria, Kate, Diana, Maria, Mollie, Sulán, Fiona, Tanad
Curator: Kate Strain/Kunstverein Aughrim
This generative event was supported by Kunstverein Aughrim and the Irish Museum of Modern Art in collaboration with City Assembly House and the Irish Georgian Society. Deirdre O’Mahony is supported by the Arts Council of Ireland and UCD Earth Institute Artist in Residence programme.