Arabeschi di Latte


Diagram of nocturnal picnic project in Florence.

“Arabeschi di Latte is a creative group founded in 2001. The group purpose is to experiment with new design concept. It focuses on food fascination and power of food to create situations and relationships.”

Annette Weber put me on to this group’s site and it looks like they have done some interesting projects that combine food and public art. It is nice to see the intersection between food and art that embraces the public rather than alienating a popular audience. Art has an incredible potential to engage people to think about food in new ways. Check it out….

Couscous and social conscience


Food may not be the answer to all of the world’s problems but thinking about food may be part of the answer and it certainly is a necessary point of departure. A new  French film called “La Graine et le Mulet” is bringing awareness to migrants in France and a multi-ethnic France that is often hidden by dominant national discourses that tend to negate or deny the existence of other cultures and religions.

The Art of the American Snapshot


It was a treat to attend the American Anthropological Association meeting in DC this year. I always feel so much better after meeting with my tribe (other anthropologists). This year it was particularly welcome because I am not working in a university with an Anthro department.

That said, by Sunday I was ready for a little air. It was my second trip to Washington, DC and I realised I hadn’t seen anything at all. I actually snuck out of the conference on Saturday evening and caught the Mall just before dusk. What really struck me were the proportions: everything is so big and it takes forever to walk from one monument to the next. Although I am generally not a fan of nationalist architecture and urban planning, the Mall is stunning and so very American. It echoes unity amongst the states and it loudly proclaims the right to freedom and liberty. On a stunning winter evening, I visited the Lincoln Memorial and the Vietnam Veterans’ Memorial Wall.

I had read a great deal about the wall but I was still unprepared for this emotional experience. It was nearly dark by the time I reached the wall. It appeared like a gash in the cold winter landscape. For me it is a nearly perfect representation of the way in which this senseless conflict tore apart families and a nation. There were war veterans choking back sobs and visitors trying hopelessly to understand the enormity of the loss. As I wandered along the dimly lit stone path, I put out my hand to feel the names engraved in the cold stone–so many lives lost. I couldn’t hold back a sense of anger when thinking about the war in Iraq and its frightening parallels with Vietnam. As a Canadian I am one step removed, yet the human tragedy touches everyone.

The following day I decided to return to the mall to visit some of the fantastic museums. The hard part was deciding which ones. In fact, I only made it to the National Gallery of Art. It is so humongous I had little time or energy for anything else. There was a fantastic Edward Hopper exhibit that enlightened me on Hopper’s architectural paintings and watercolors. In addition, a gigantic Turner exhibit got me thinking about how this landscape painter could easily be seen as a predecessor of the Impressionist movement. Even if I am not a huge fan of landscapes and sea battles, Turner’s use of light is stunning.

The one exhibit that fascinated me most was the Art of the American Snapshot, which chronicles the development of amateur photography as technology advances. What struck me was the intimacy portrayed in these casual photos and the curiosity displayed in the manipulation of this new technology. The snapshot chronicles, it explores, sometimes it fails but other times it catches the unexpected. What role have snapshots played in your life?