Eattopia = Eat + Utopia

By Chen Yung-Hsien

The food that people eat differs due to the region, habits, customs, and cultures, and causes the diverse eating manners around the world.   The idea of what is “good to eat” also alters as time changes.  According to Jeremy MacClancy in the book Consuming Culture, he proposed that taste could be taught.  In deed, in today’s boarder-less world, food has become without boarders as well.  One could enjoy food authentically or in the form of fusion cuisine; people could decide to go light and be on a diet or become a vegan.   Exotic, bizarre, rare foods are available to entice people’s desires, and all the food phenomenon has created an ambiguous complex towards food.

However, the desire to eat can also lead to beautiful imaginations.  In the film, “Golden Door” by the new Italian director, Emanuele Crialese, it is a story about immigration in the early 20th century, when people came from afar to fulfill their American dreams.  The central focus for people was the desire and fantasy about being fed well and dressed well.  When the succulent fish, meat, vegetables, and fruits are deliberately blown out of proportion, when the desires to eat is fulfilled and life is able to continue toward reaching the future anticipation, this is when a virtual realm is composed via the link between food and life.  This kind of desire and hope are also depicted in Tao Yuanming’s “The Home of Peach Blossoms", Plato’s “The Republic”, and Thomas More’s “Utopia”; these works are words of ambition, and are also criticisms of the realistic state.  In the real life, when faced with the most challenging need for survival, being hungry or being full are key fundamental elements for the making of a utopian paradise.  Therefore, this is how the concept of “Eattopia” has derived to be the topic for the “2010 Taiwan International Video Art Exhibition”.

To go into further details, “Eattopia” is about a utopia that is based on food and culture, through the attempt to link together the ideas of “Eat” and “Utopia”.  All the possible extensions based on mankind and the needs for food are incorporated in this constructed realm, including: culinary style, eating and taboos, food and legends, food and sacredness, class system and food, and different perspectives about the mobility of food.  The core of the concept is to use the term “Eat” in “Eattopia” as a noun and also as a verb.  As a noun, it is used to describe how food is the fundamental desire in a utopia perceived by mankind, and is also an attempt to build a utopia via food.  As a verb, the term “Eat” is used to discuss the issues as desires are unsatisfied and expanded, how mankind are gradually eating up the utopia that we have hoped to reach.  Through the construction and deconstruction with the term “Eat”, a real and virtual, a destructed and developed realm of life is formed.

Therefore, the idea for “Eattopia” is not about collecting the most sought-after recipes in the world; the concept is to use eating as a base for the theme, and through physical needs and experiences, and from culinary cultures to transform into a significant sociological system, and to further extend into discussions based on physical sexual orientations, taste levels, racial groups, acceptance, changes in politics and economies, inspections of food production, exchanges in consumerism, and the realizations of everyday life.  In today’s world of technological advancement, the shortage of food is still a dilemma that haunts the human race like it did centuries ago, and the problem is related to the imbalance in food supplies, food waste in big cities, global warming that causes the shrinkage in agricultural land, market and future investments that lead to the distortion in prices, economic globalization’s impact on local farming, government’s focus on industry over agriculture; all of these have caused some impact at some level.  Therefore, “Eattopia – 2010 Taiwan International Video Art Exhibition” invites international artists and also sends out call for entries to all, and we anticipate for more concerns and dedications to be presented from artists around the world about this topic.  We hope that through the concept in “Eattopia” about food and culture to garner analyses and speculations about eating, utensils, the physical body, desire, power, consumerism, aesthetic, and issues related to the society, and to further extend into the global reality that is immanent.

食托邦 Eattopia –策展論述


人們所吃的一切食物,因為區域、習慣、風俗與文化,造就出全球差異的飲食風格,而使「適於食用」(good to eat)的看法,也隨著時間改變而產生變化,誠如麥克蘭西(Jeremy MacClancy)在《消費文化》(Consuming Culture)書中強調:「口味是教出來的。」的確,現今無國界的飲食範圍,無論原汁原味或自由混搭、避餓減重或素食主義、異國情調或奇珍怪食等慾望,都有熱衷的愛好者,進而產生一種撲朔迷離的食物情結。

然而,對於食之慾而引發美好想像,就像義大利導演克里亞勒斯(Emanuele Crialese)的《燦爛新人生》(Golden Door),片中描述二十世紀初,因滿懷美國夢而遠渡重洋的移民故事。在此引人注目的焦點,即是人們對於豐衣足食的幻想與渴望,當肥美多汁的魚肉蔬果被刻意放大時,口慾飽足、生命延續和未來願景,即刻讓食物與生命之間產生了一座虛擬國度。這樣的憧憬,亦如同人們長久以來對於陶淵明《桃花源》、柏拉圖《理想國》,抑或摩爾《烏托邦》的投射作用,既是言志,亦是抒發對現實狀態的批判。現實生活中,面對最殘酷的生存需求,飢餓或溫飽成了進入此理想國的基本關鍵,由此,「食托邦」(Eattopia)的概念於焉產生,成為「2010年台灣國際錄像藝術展」的年度主題。


如此,「食托邦」Eattopia 的理想並非蒐尋人間美饌食譜,而是拋出以飲食作為基調的議題,從生理需求的身體經驗,飲食文化的轉向擴及社會學的意義系統,再從身體性別、品味階級、空間族群、認同與政治經濟的變遷,檢驗食物生產、交換消費與日常生活的實踐。進一步觀察在科技發達的今日,糧食短缺的問題依然如前幾個世紀一般如影隨形,甚至還包括了食物供需失衡、大都會食物浪費、環境暖化使農地面積減少、市場投機與期貨投資的價格扭曲,以及經濟全球化對在地農產的威脅、政府重工輕農政策的影響等層面。因而,「食托邦-2010年台灣國際錄像藝術展」向全球藝術家邀展與徵件,挖掘各地創作者對於此議題的關注與投入,希冀「食托邦」Eattopia 以飲食文化作為起點,逐次掃描於飲食、食具、身體、慾望、權力、消費、美學、社會之聯想與分析,及其背後更為龐大全球現實。