Eating: Habits make Culture

Alice Stori Liechtenstein is one of the 20 finalists of the Curate Award. This is her exhibition concept.

Eating is a primal necessity but almost no one eats only to satisfy a need. We eat primarily according to habits, and these are built over time, determined by the family we are born into, the social context in which we find ourselves, and our own personal tastes. Eating habits are cultural but being such a strong element in characterising culture, they also generate it.

This exhibition aims at starting a dialogue on the different ways people approach the activity of eating, and investigate how these habits are drastically changing. The relative abundance and variety of food characteristic of the last 70 years has made many century old eating habits obsolete and is propelling us fast to develop and adopt new ones. Also, although eating is still primarily a social activity, eating habits have become extremely personal and within the western World it has become acceptable for people to self-determine their eating habits to an extent previously unseen. 

As the visitor enters the exhibition he will be confronted with short videos of people talking about their eating habits - being a vegetarian, always having a three course meal, avoiding certain types of food, suffering from eating disorders, eating too fast or too slowly, not liking certain tastes, etc. 

The second part of the exhibition is about reviving the past in order to better understand the present. There will be 6/8 tables set out according to the customs of different cultures in different eras. The tables will present original artifacts such as china, glass, cuttlery, ornaments, cloths, etc and will be historically accurate. In order to better explain how people behaved at these tables, images depicting meals and feasts through the history of art will be projected around the room.

Tables: Homeric Poems; Imperial China; Medieval Islam; Renaissance Monastery; Court of Louis XVI; Victorian London; Parisian Restaurant (20th century)

The last and largest table will be devoted to contemporary trends in an effort to identify new bahavioural patterns. Some of the themes presented through pictures and infographics will be: “Food Porn” as generated by Instagram, Culinary Blogs, the dychtomy obesity/anorexia, Celebrity Chefs, Permaculture and Sustainability, correlation between food and cancer, etc All topics will be again presented from a behavioural perpective: how they affect our eating habits.

At the end of the exhibition visitors will have the chance to record a short video about their own eating habits. Hopefully they will have had the chance to reflect on their own eating habits.