Subodh Gupta will cook at Venice

At the Cipriani, A Belmond Hotel, Venice, curated by the brilliant Hervé Mikaeloff, an apron-clad Subodh Gupta will cook up a storm for art lovers on April 23rd 2022. He is part of the prestigious collateral exposition at the Venice Biennale represented by Galleria Continua, a gallery that celebrates installations and new mediums in cutting edge art.

Immersive installation

Subodh shared images of his installation in Venice. This immersive installation of found aluminum utensils, monofilament line, and steel transforms into a hut for this epic cook out in which he will don aprons and cook Indian recipes from his legendary cooking escapades.

Cooking the World II (2022) by Subodh Gupta — presented by Galleria Continua San Gimignano will recreate an open hut made from used aluminum utensils, inside which he carries out a cooking and eating performance, commemorating age-old Indian ritualistic practices. “I love cooking,” says Subodh who challenges the aesthetic traditions of the readymade to present novel ideas of referencing and anecdotal assumptions to viewers so that we can relate to our own associations.

Rituals and symbolism

In an age of migration and displacement complemented by a rising intolerance Subodh’s cooking performance will be a commentary on the rituals and symbolism of food consumption and preparation that has gathered increasing significance world over.

In Western cultures, the notion of gathering around the dinner table indicates a sense of familial bond and intimacy in the practice of sharing a meal, a custom even more pronounced in contemporary and ancient Indian communities alike. ”The diversity of religious and cultural groups in India is matched by a range of dietary restrictions and regional culinary specialties. Offering to share a meal acts as the strongest indicator of inclusion and acceptance into a community. This installation is accompanied by a cooking and eating performance, in which food will be prepared by the artist and consumed by the ‘viewer’.

The entire installation is designed to draw the viewer in the gardens of this gorgeous hotel Subodh’s hut creates a pretty picture of tales of time and tide in human habitation.

Used aluminum utensils hanging delicately from transparent fishing lines create the porous, textured shelter for the performance. These worn vessels, discarded by their previous users, bear witness to individual histories and narratives of past utility. Together, the utensils enclose a new collective ritual space, alluding both to subjectively lived fates and to communal cosmological destinies.

Gupta uses the everyday, the domestic and the familiar — to affect an impact through unexpected cohesive proportions. For viewers the walls of used utensils look like a veiled curtain.The experience is bound to be sensorial.

Paradigms of gastronomy

Within the backdrop of his monumental hut installation of used utensils, Gupta’s cooking performance will present a modern day paradigm of gastronomic art that transcends the traditional art-fair stand. The hut as an avant garde installation is colossal, it looks like a walled hut with vessels forming an ensemble. Subodh’s five course meal will be akin to a gourmet adventure.

Gupta will create a historic leaf in the unravelling of traditional vernacular cuisine. His menu will embrace dishes of Indian origin like vegetarian lentil soup as well Goan prawn curry, lamb curry, and a dessert. “While I cook, I am also consciously exploring the socio-political aspects of cooking and eating. In India, cooking and eating embraces all classes — it is reflected by inclusivity and exclusivity, belonging and not-belonging. Communities are known by what they eat or don’t eat. I think in every state in India there are distinct emotional and historical layers around cooking practices and this fascinates me, ”says Subodh.

Vessels that tell tales

Subodh collects used utensils from the scrapyard marketplace. “Every utensil used in someone’s home, somewhere, sometimes tells so many stories. I like the familiarity of these used utensils, I know them, and relate to those who owned them, ”states Subodh.

“Everything goes back to my childhood. I grew up in a house with so many utensils like these, so it’s like home to me. ”

When I asked why he didn’t use shiny new utensils like in his other projects he affirms, “New utensils are shiny, but they are cold and empty. These used utensils are warm, humble, and have so much character. So it’s like meeting an old friend. ”

Memory and memoir

His love for cooking goes back to childhood memories as he hung around his mother’s kitchen; in this performance the avant garde artist recreates both experiences and memoirs. Subodh speaks of his fondness for cooking, especially Kerala cuisine. “Cooking for me is a hobby and passion, but now it’s an exploration. For me, cooking begins with my mother. I loved being with her, I was fascinated by the ritual and the ceremony in the kitchen space, how certain vessels were used for certain occasions.I watch a lot of cooking episodes on YouTube. I love learning new recipes, ”he adds.

(Images credit: Subodh Gupta)



Views expressed above are the author’s own.



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