topic

Food ways

"Tell me what you eat, and I shall tell you what you are."  -- Brillat-Savarin

 

"For what is food? It is not only a collection of products that can be used for statistical or nutritional studies. It is also, and at the same time, a system of communication, a body of images, a protocol of usages, situations, and behavior. ... When he buys an item of food, consumes it, or serves it, modern man does not manipulate a simple object in a purely transitive fashion; this item of food sums up and transmits a situation; it constitutes an information; it signifies." -- Roland Barthes, "Toward a Psychosociology of Contemporary Food Consumption" (1961)

Elephant in the Room

Maria Villote

2009 Oil on reclaimed timber. 36 in. x 30 in. x 21 in. Courtesy of the artist.

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Maria Villote

b. 1984
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Maria Villote was born in Manila, Philippines, 1984. Ten years later, she immigrated to the United States. Villote lived and worked in the Bay Area, where she received a B.A. in Art Practice from University of California, Berkeley. She is one of the co-founders/co-curators of Project: One Night Stand (ONS Projects), an ongoing series of site-specific art exhibits that utilize unexpected and unconventional settings/spaces throughout Ventura County in order to showcase experimental work by local art students and local and established artists.

Maria has shown in 18th Street Arts Center, Jaus Gallery, UC Berkeley’s Worth Ryder Gallery, University of Hawaii, Hilo's Campus Center Gallery, University of California, Los Angeles' Undergraduate Art Gallery, CSUCI Exhibitions Gallery, The Control Room, Krowswork Gallery, 643 Project Space, Zughaus Gallery, Downtown Center for the Arts in Oxnard, Upfront Gallery and several shows in Oxnard College’s McNish Gallery. She was also a recipient of the 2012-2013 Oxnard Cultural Arts Grant.

 

Photograph by Maria Villote.

I’m interested in the human experience, symbiosis, and the vicissitudes of the interaction between the work and the viewer/consumer. In the construct of a hypereality and the use of metaphors and parallels, I try to seduce my audience, playing on their expectations and assumptions based on their preconceived notions. Through the lure and allure, I pull the viewer in hoping that their experience and understanding of the work will unfold into a dialectic gaze.

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  • Born: Manila, Philippines
  • Based: Oxnard, CA, USA

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Elephant in the Room (detail)

Maria Villote

2009 Oil on reclaimed timber. 36 in. x 30 in. x 21 in. Courtesy of the artist.

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Maria Villote

b. 1984
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Maria Villote was born in Manila, Philippines, 1984. Ten years later, she immigrated to the United States. Villote lived and worked in the Bay Area, where she received a B.A. in Art Practice from University of California, Berkeley. She is one of the co-founders/co-curators of Project: One Night Stand (ONS Projects), an ongoing series of site-specific art exhibits that utilize unexpected and unconventional settings/spaces throughout Ventura County in order to showcase experimental work by local art students and local and established artists.

Maria has shown in 18th Street Arts Center, Jaus Gallery, UC Berkeley’s Worth Ryder Gallery, University of Hawaii, Hilo's Campus Center Gallery, University of California, Los Angeles' Undergraduate Art Gallery, CSUCI Exhibitions Gallery, The Control Room, Krowswork Gallery, 643 Project Space, Zughaus Gallery, Downtown Center for the Arts in Oxnard, Upfront Gallery and several shows in Oxnard College’s McNish Gallery. She was also a recipient of the 2012-2013 Oxnard Cultural Arts Grant.

 

Photograph by Maria Villote.

I’m interested in the human experience, symbiosis, and the vicissitudes of the interaction between the work and the viewer/consumer. In the construct of a hypereality and the use of metaphors and parallels, I try to seduce my audience, playing on their expectations and assumptions based on their preconceived notions. Through the lure and allure, I pull the viewer in hoping that their experience and understanding of the work will unfold into a dialectic gaze.

location

X
  • Born: Manila, Philippines
  • Based: Oxnard, CA, USA

comments

X

Elephant in the Room (detail)

Maria Villote

2009 Oil on reclaimed timber. 36 in. x 30 in. x 21 in. Courtesy of the artist.

contributor

X

Maria Villote

b. 1984
image description
  • See All Works
  • visit website

Maria Villote was born in Manila, Philippines, 1984. Ten years later, she immigrated to the United States. Villote lived and worked in the Bay Area, where she received a B.A. in Art Practice from University of California, Berkeley. She is one of the co-founders/co-curators of Project: One Night Stand (ONS Projects), an ongoing series of site-specific art exhibits that utilize unexpected and unconventional settings/spaces throughout Ventura County in order to showcase experimental work by local art students and local and established artists.

Maria has shown in 18th Street Arts Center, Jaus Gallery, UC Berkeley’s Worth Ryder Gallery, University of Hawaii, Hilo's Campus Center Gallery, University of California, Los Angeles' Undergraduate Art Gallery, CSUCI Exhibitions Gallery, The Control Room, Krowswork Gallery, 643 Project Space, Zughaus Gallery, Downtown Center for the Arts in Oxnard, Upfront Gallery and several shows in Oxnard College’s McNish Gallery. She was also a recipient of the 2012-2013 Oxnard Cultural Arts Grant.

 

Photograph by Maria Villote.

I’m interested in the human experience, symbiosis, and the vicissitudes of the interaction between the work and the viewer/consumer. In the construct of a hypereality and the use of metaphors and parallels, I try to seduce my audience, playing on their expectations and assumptions based on their preconceived notions. Through the lure and allure, I pull the viewer in hoping that their experience and understanding of the work will unfold into a dialectic gaze.

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  • Born: Manila, Philippines
  • Based: Oxnard, CA, USA

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Clare Counihan

b. 1977
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Clare Counihan earned her M.A. and Ph.D. in English Language and Literature from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, and her B.A. in English Literature from Duke University. Her research focuses on contemporary southern African experimental literature and the relationship between narrative form and national belonging for unbeloved subjects. She is also deeply interested in food: eating it, cooking it, understanding the ways it reflects and mediates our identities and interactions.

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Sarita Echavez See

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Sarita Echavez See was born in New York City but raised as an "embassy brat" moving from city to city around the world. She received her B.A. from the University of California, Berkeley, where she first became involved with U.S. women of color politics, especially the arts and culture movement. She obtained her Ph.D. in English and Comparative Literature at Columbia University. While studying in New York City, she met the Filipino American artists and writers who inspired and continue to inspire her teaching and scholarship. In 2013, she joined the faculty of the University of California, Riverside, where she is an associate professor of Media and Cultural Studies. She previously taught at Williams College, the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, and the University of California, Davis. Her research and teaching interests include Asian American and Filipino American cultural critique, postcolonial and empire studies, narrative, and theories of gender and sexuality. She is the author of the book-length study The Decolonized Eye: Filipino American Art and Performance (University of Minnesota Press, 2009), in which she argues that contemporary Filipino American forms of aesthetic and performative abstraction powerfully expose and indict the history of American imperialism as itself a form of abstraction. She is at work on the book-length project “Against Accumulation,” which is a study of the politics of accumulation in the American museum and university and of the politics of anti-accumulation in Filipino American theatre, writing, and visual art. She was one of the core organizers of the 2011 conference "Critical Ethnic Studies and the Future of Genocide" held at the University of California, Riverside, and she has served as a member of the working board of the Critical Ethnic Studies Association. In her work with the Center for Art and Thought and its focus on the contemporary medium of the digital, she envisions CA+T to be a transnational venue for more meaningful, reciprocal encounters between artists and scholars, and she is committed to fostering new forms of literacy, rather than tutelage, and to the transformation, rather than the mere transmission and replication, of knowledge.

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  • Born: New York, NY, USA
  • Based: Los Angeles, CA, USA

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Why Sinigang?

Doreen Gamboa Fernandez

1988 - 2014 Criticism. 6 pages. Courtesy of the family of Doreen Fernandez. Sarap: Essays on Philippine Food

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Doreen Gamboa Fernandez

b. 1934-2002

Doreen Gamboa Fernandez was born on 28 October 1934 to Aguinaldo Severino Gamboa of Silay, Negros Occidental and Alicia Lucero Gamboa of Cabanatuan, Nueva Ecija.

She obtained her A.B., major in English and History in 1954 from St. Scholastica's College, Manila and completed her M.A. in English Literature (1956) and Ph.D. in Literature (1976) from the Ateneo de Manila University. She began teaching at the Ateneo de Manila in 1972 and chaired the departments of Communication, English and Interdisciplinary Studies. She was a member of the editorial boards of Philippine Studies, Filipinas Journal of Philippine Studies, and The Asian Theatre Journal. She would have rendered thirty years service in October 2002.

In 1998 she was recognized with Metrobank Foundation's Outstanding Teacher Award.

She taught literature, composition, creative as well as critical writing, and journalism. Her research included cultural, literary, theater and culinary history, on which she has written for scholarly and popular publications and had regularly been invited to speak at international conferences and symposiums.

She was twice a recipient of the Fulbright Asian Scholar in Residence Award (1983, Ohio University Southeast Asian Studies Summer Institute; 1992, Michigan University Seminar on Southeast Asian Literatures in Translation).

A prolific writer, she authored the Iloilo Zarzuela: 1903-1930 (1978); In Performance (1981); Tikim: Essays on Philippine Food and Culture (1994); Face to Face: The Craft of Interviewing (1995); Palabas: Essays on Philippine Theater History (1996); Fruits of thePhilippines (1997); Palayok: Philippine Food Through Time, On Site, In the Pot (2000). With Edilberto N. Alegre, she co-authored "The Writer and His Milieu (1984) and Writers and Their Milieu (1987, recipient of National Book Award); the Lasa series on dining in Manila and the provinces (1989, 1990, 1992); Sarap: Essays on Philippine Food and Culture (1988); and Kinilaw: A Philippine Cuisine of Freshness (1991).

She wrote video scripts as well: Tikim, a video documentary on Philippine food (1989, Philippine Information Agency); Panitikan on Philippine literature (1992, CCP), which earned first prize, video documentary category from the Film Academy of the Philippines; and Dulaan on Philippine contemporary theater (1994, CCP).

She was a columnist of The Manila Chronicle, Mr. & Ms. magazine, the Philippine Journal of Education, the Philippine Daily Inquirer, and Food magazine. She has contributed numerous articles in journals, periodicals and books, including to The Oxford Companion to Food (1999, Oxford University Press).

She was editor and contributor to the CCP Encyclopedia of Philippine Art (1994, Cultural Center of the Philippines); contributor to the Encyclopedia of Post-Colonial Literatures in English (1995, Routledge), and with Resil Mojares to Modern Southeast Asian Literature in Translation: A Resource for Teaching (1997, Arizona State University); and editorial consultant as well as contributor to the 10-volume Kasaysayan: The Story of the Filipino People (1998, Asia Publishing Co Ltd).

She was co-founder of the Babaylan Theater Group (1973, with Nicanor G. Tiongson), and the Cultural Research Association of the Philippines (1975). She was a member of the board of trustees of the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP), Philippine Educational Theater Association (PETA), and the Ramon Magsaysay Award Foundation, among others. She was also a member of the Manila Critics Circleand of the judiciary for the Palanca Memorial Awards for Literature.

She received the Achievement Award from the National Research Council in 1997, and in 1999 she was recognized with the CCP Centennial Honors for the Arts (Cultural Center of the Philippines and the Philippine Centennial Commission), honoring 100 Filipinos who helped shape the arts in the Philippines in the last century (1898-1998).

She was married to interior designer Wili Fernandez.

 

Photograph by Stella Kalaw.

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  • Born: The Philippines
  • Based: Manila, Philippines

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Culture Ingested: On the Indigenization of Philippine Food

Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett Doreen Gamboa Fernandez

2003 - 2014 Criticism. 13 pages. Courtesy of Gastronomica, Stella Kalaw, and Christina Quisumbing Ramilo.

Gastronomica 3.1 (Winter 2003): 58-71.

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Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett

b. 1942

Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett is University Professor and Professor of Performance Studies at New York University's Tisch School of the Arts. She earned her M.A. and Ph.D. in Folklore from the University of Indiana after majoring in English Literature at University of California, Berkeley. Kirshenblatt-Gimblett has served as a Fellow and Past President of the American Folklore Society, on the Smithsonian's Advisory Council of Center for Folklife Programs and Cultural Studies, and with the National Foundation for Jewish Culture. Her fellowships and honors include the Distinguished Humanist Award from Ohio State University; the Lindback Award for Distinguished Teaching from the University of Pennsylvania; a fellowship with the Center for Advanced Jewish Studies at the University of Pennsylvania; a fellowship with the Swedish Collegium for Advanced Study in the Social Sciences; time as an Uppsala Winston Fellow with the Institute of Advanced Studies at Hebrew University, Jerusalem; leading an Advanced Research Seminar at the School of American Research, Santa Fe; Phi Beta Kappa Visiting Scholar, 1995-1996; Getty Scholar at the Getty Center for the Study of Art and the Humanities, Santa Monica; a Bellagio Residency at the Rockefeller Foundation; Folklore Fellow at the Finnish Academy of Science and Letters; an American Council of Learned Societies Fellowship in East European Studies; and a Guggenheim Fellowship. Kirshenblatt-Gimblett's more recent books include Destination Culture: Tourism, Museums, and Heritage (University of California Press, 1998); The Art of Being Jewish in Modern Times (edited with Jonathan Karp; University of Pennsylvania Press, 2008)); and the edited volume Writing a Modern Jewish History: Essays in Honor of Salo W. Baron (Yale University Press, 2006), which won a National Jewish Book Award in 2006.

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Doreen Gamboa Fernandez

b. 1934-2002

Doreen Gamboa Fernandez was born on 28 October 1934 to Aguinaldo Severino Gamboa of Silay, Negros Occidental and Alicia Lucero Gamboa of Cabanatuan, Nueva Ecija.

She obtained her A.B., major in English and History in 1954 from St. Scholastica's College, Manila and completed her M.A. in English Literature (1956) and Ph.D. in Literature (1976) from the Ateneo de Manila University. She began teaching at the Ateneo de Manila in 1972 and chaired the departments of Communication, English and Interdisciplinary Studies. She was a member of the editorial boards of Philippine Studies, Filipinas Journal of Philippine Studies, and The Asian Theatre Journal. She would have rendered thirty years service in October 2002.

In 1998 she was recognized with Metrobank Foundation's Outstanding Teacher Award.

She taught literature, composition, creative as well as critical writing, and journalism. Her research included cultural, literary, theater and culinary history, on which she has written for scholarly and popular publications and had regularly been invited to speak at international conferences and symposiums.

She was twice a recipient of the Fulbright Asian Scholar in Residence Award (1983, Ohio University Southeast Asian Studies Summer Institute; 1992, Michigan University Seminar on Southeast Asian Literatures in Translation).

A prolific writer, she authored the Iloilo Zarzuela: 1903-1930 (1978); In Performance (1981); Tikim: Essays on Philippine Food and Culture (1994); Face to Face: The Craft of Interviewing (1995); Palabas: Essays on Philippine Theater History (1996); Fruits of thePhilippines (1997); Palayok: Philippine Food Through Time, On Site, In the Pot (2000). With Edilberto N. Alegre, she co-authored "The Writer and His Milieu (1984) and Writers and Their Milieu (1987, recipient of National Book Award); the Lasa series on dining in Manila and the provinces (1989, 1990, 1992); Sarap: Essays on Philippine Food and Culture (1988); and Kinilaw: A Philippine Cuisine of Freshness (1991).

She wrote video scripts as well: Tikim, a video documentary on Philippine food (1989, Philippine Information Agency); Panitikan on Philippine literature (1992, CCP), which earned first prize, video documentary category from the Film Academy of the Philippines; and Dulaan on Philippine contemporary theater (1994, CCP).

She was a columnist of The Manila Chronicle, Mr. & Ms. magazine, the Philippine Journal of Education, the Philippine Daily Inquirer, and Food magazine. She has contributed numerous articles in journals, periodicals and books, including to The Oxford Companion to Food (1999, Oxford University Press).

She was editor and contributor to the CCP Encyclopedia of Philippine Art (1994, Cultural Center of the Philippines); contributor to the Encyclopedia of Post-Colonial Literatures in English (1995, Routledge), and with Resil Mojares to Modern Southeast Asian Literature in Translation: A Resource for Teaching (1997, Arizona State University); and editorial consultant as well as contributor to the 10-volume Kasaysayan: The Story of the Filipino People (1998, Asia Publishing Co Ltd).

She was co-founder of the Babaylan Theater Group (1973, with Nicanor G. Tiongson), and the Cultural Research Association of the Philippines (1975). She was a member of the board of trustees of the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP), Philippine Educational Theater Association (PETA), and the Ramon Magsaysay Award Foundation, among others. She was also a member of the Manila Critics Circleand of the judiciary for the Palanca Memorial Awards for Literature.

She received the Achievement Award from the National Research Council in 1997, and in 1999 she was recognized with the CCP Centennial Honors for the Arts (Cultural Center of the Philippines and the Philippine Centennial Commission), honoring 100 Filipinos who helped shape the arts in the Philippines in the last century (1898-1998).

She was married to interior designer Wili Fernandez.

 

Photograph by Stella Kalaw.

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  • Born: The Philippines
  • Based: Manila, Philippines

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Pig Face: A Love Story (Sisig)

Sita Kuratomi Bhaumik

2014 Watercolor on paper 5 in. x 7 in. Courtesy of the artist.

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Sita Kuratomi Bhaumik

b. 1981
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Sita Kuratomi Bhaumik is an interdisciplinary artist and educator born and raised in the suburbs of Los Angeles to Indian and Japanese Colombian parents. After receiving her B.A. in Studio Art from Scripps College, Sita moved to the San Francisco Bay Area. She holds an M.F.A. from California College of the Arts in interdisciplinary art and an M.A. in Visual and Critical Studies. She is a lecturer at University of California, Merced and has been an instructor at RayKo Photo Center. Sita has collaborated with organizations such as the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center (Washington, DC); Yerba Buena Center for the Arts; in San Francisco, the Asian Art Museum, 18 Reasons, 826 Valencia, and SomArts; the San Jose Museum of Art; Whitman College (Walla Walla, WA); California State University, Fullerton; Stanford University, Voice of Witness (Chicago, IL); and the Future Food House in Rotterdam. She has been the art features editor for Hyphen magazine, a writer for Art Practical, and a board member at Kearny Street Workshop. She is currently a Research Fellow at the Institute for Art and Olfaction in Los Angeles, California, and a recent Lucas Artist Program Resident at Montalvo Arts Center in Saratoga, California. You can see more of her work at sitabhaumik.com

For the Love/Hate of Curry

A golden, aromatic spice blend that is prized by some and reviled by others, curry powder is a polarizing substance. Over the past five years I have used it as a dye, perfume, and pigment in my art practice. But I rarely eat the bottled stuff.

What, exactly, is curry? It is a delicious dish and an inadequate word. As food historian Thy Tran once told me, it is a word that falls short because it attempts to use the language of the colonizer to describe the many foods of the colonized. The first reference to curry powder was published in Mrs. Beeton’s Book of Household Management (1961), a book to aid British housewives in the particulars of maintaining a proper home in the colonies. I began to trace my own history through an alternative spice route. Being Indian and Japanese Colombian American, we ate curry all the time in our house. Indian cooks don’t usually use curry powder--but my mother, who is Colombian-born Japanese, made the kind that came out of a box. She mixed it with chicken, carrots and potatoes to create one of my favorite meals (coincidentally, the most popular brand of curry powder happens to be my initials, “S&B” and so I took it as a sign that I was meant to work with the material). Why does Japan’s #1 dish come from a package? Japan was introduced to curry by the British who made a roux of flour and fat with the spice blend. The Indian varieties? Those were more difficult to define. My father is from a small village outside of Kolkata. I still have no idea what is and isn’t a “curry.” Neither does my family. It’s just food in sauce – but it’s so much more.

After my first installation with curry powder in 2008, I searched the phrase “smells like curry” online. I suppose I expected to find a racist joke or two and a few recipes. Instead, I found thousands of entries referring to the way Indian people smelled. The one I will always remember was a posting on Yahoo! Answers:

Q: Help, my neighbor’s house smells like curry.
A: Call the INS.

I became obsessed with this anonymous entry. For the first time I realized that race is constructed by more than what we see.

Over the next few years I sprinkled curry powder through the streets of Oakland, opened a Curry Institute (2011) at Whitman College, where visitors could chart their own Curry Cartography, and worked with perfumer Yosh Han to create a curry perfume called Gilt (2010) just because I wanted everyone to have the right to smell like curry. Eventually the spice pieces made their way onto the walls themselves.

Although my ingredients span the globe, I always source my materials from family-owned businesses. I had been purchasing ingredients from Bombay Bazaar, a hidden grocery store that had closed and re-opened in San Francisco’s wildly gentrifying Mission district. The last time I went in to say hello, the store had disappeared. Shelves, fluorescent lighting, and all. It is with the last batch of spices purchased at this shop that I created Dear Indian Grocery Store both in the bathroom of 18 Reasons in San Francisco and at the San Jose Museum of Art in November 2013. Feeling yet another loss in a city I recognize less and less, I wrote an open letter to the grocery store. This letter always accompanies the installation. As with my previous installations, the excess curry powder collected from the installation will be used to dye napkins and tablecloths for a sliding-scale community dinner. The curry powder is reserved for the art - it is rarely used in the cooking of the meal.

Most Indian cooks would never be caught with curry powder in their kitchens - it limits the complexity and variety of a dish. This powder is India concentrate. This is the myth we expect in Indian supermarkets, restaurants, and, yes, even people. But this complicated blend has also been transformed into the unique flavors of comfort all over the world.

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  • Born: Los Angeles, CA, USA
  • Based: Oakland, CA, USA

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Pig Face: A Love Story (Greetings from Clark Air Base)

Sita Kuratomi Bhaumik

2014 Watercolor on paper 4 in. x 6 in. Courtesy of the artist.

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Sita Kuratomi Bhaumik

b. 1981
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Sita Kuratomi Bhaumik is an interdisciplinary artist and educator born and raised in the suburbs of Los Angeles to Indian and Japanese Colombian parents. After receiving her B.A. in Studio Art from Scripps College, Sita moved to the San Francisco Bay Area. She holds an M.F.A. from California College of the Arts in interdisciplinary art and an M.A. in Visual and Critical Studies. She is a lecturer at University of California, Merced and has been an instructor at RayKo Photo Center. Sita has collaborated with organizations such as the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center (Washington, DC); Yerba Buena Center for the Arts; in San Francisco, the Asian Art Museum, 18 Reasons, 826 Valencia, and SomArts; the San Jose Museum of Art; Whitman College (Walla Walla, WA); California State University, Fullerton; Stanford University, Voice of Witness (Chicago, IL); and the Future Food House in Rotterdam. She has been the art features editor for Hyphen magazine, a writer for Art Practical, and a board member at Kearny Street Workshop. She is currently a Research Fellow at the Institute for Art and Olfaction in Los Angeles, California, and a recent Lucas Artist Program Resident at Montalvo Arts Center in Saratoga, California. You can see more of her work at sitabhaumik.com

For the Love/Hate of Curry

A golden, aromatic spice blend that is prized by some and reviled by others, curry powder is a polarizing substance. Over the past five years I have used it as a dye, perfume, and pigment in my art practice. But I rarely eat the bottled stuff.

What, exactly, is curry? It is a delicious dish and an inadequate word. As food historian Thy Tran once told me, it is a word that falls short because it attempts to use the language of the colonizer to describe the many foods of the colonized. The first reference to curry powder was published in Mrs. Beeton’s Book of Household Management (1961), a book to aid British housewives in the particulars of maintaining a proper home in the colonies. I began to trace my own history through an alternative spice route. Being Indian and Japanese Colombian American, we ate curry all the time in our house. Indian cooks don’t usually use curry powder--but my mother, who is Colombian-born Japanese, made the kind that came out of a box. She mixed it with chicken, carrots and potatoes to create one of my favorite meals (coincidentally, the most popular brand of curry powder happens to be my initials, “S&B” and so I took it as a sign that I was meant to work with the material). Why does Japan’s #1 dish come from a package? Japan was introduced to curry by the British who made a roux of flour and fat with the spice blend. The Indian varieties? Those were more difficult to define. My father is from a small village outside of Kolkata. I still have no idea what is and isn’t a “curry.” Neither does my family. It’s just food in sauce – but it’s so much more.

After my first installation with curry powder in 2008, I searched the phrase “smells like curry” online. I suppose I expected to find a racist joke or two and a few recipes. Instead, I found thousands of entries referring to the way Indian people smelled. The one I will always remember was a posting on Yahoo! Answers:

Q: Help, my neighbor’s house smells like curry.
A: Call the INS.

I became obsessed with this anonymous entry. For the first time I realized that race is constructed by more than what we see.

Over the next few years I sprinkled curry powder through the streets of Oakland, opened a Curry Institute (2011) at Whitman College, where visitors could chart their own Curry Cartography, and worked with perfumer Yosh Han to create a curry perfume called Gilt (2010) just because I wanted everyone to have the right to smell like curry. Eventually the spice pieces made their way onto the walls themselves.

Although my ingredients span the globe, I always source my materials from family-owned businesses. I had been purchasing ingredients from Bombay Bazaar, a hidden grocery store that had closed and re-opened in San Francisco’s wildly gentrifying Mission district. The last time I went in to say hello, the store had disappeared. Shelves, fluorescent lighting, and all. It is with the last batch of spices purchased at this shop that I created Dear Indian Grocery Store both in the bathroom of 18 Reasons in San Francisco and at the San Jose Museum of Art in November 2013. Feeling yet another loss in a city I recognize less and less, I wrote an open letter to the grocery store. This letter always accompanies the installation. As with my previous installations, the excess curry powder collected from the installation will be used to dye napkins and tablecloths for a sliding-scale community dinner. The curry powder is reserved for the art - it is rarely used in the cooking of the meal.

Most Indian cooks would never be caught with curry powder in their kitchens - it limits the complexity and variety of a dish. This powder is India concentrate. This is the myth we expect in Indian supermarkets, restaurants, and, yes, even people. But this complicated blend has also been transformed into the unique flavors of comfort all over the world.

location

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  • Born: Los Angeles, CA, USA
  • Based: Oakland, CA, USA

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Litany for the Sea

Aimee Suzara

Apr 20, 2010 Poem. Courtesy of the author.

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Aimee Suzara

b. 1975
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Aimee Suzara is a Filipino-American poet, playwright, performer and educator based in Oakland. Invited as a featured artist nationally from Florida to Oregon, she is also a member of the writer’s pool for PlayGround at Berkeley Repertory Theater and a Hedgebrook residency alumnae. Her second play, A History of the Body, was awarded the East Bay Community Fund Matching Commission and a grant from National Endowment for the Arts. Her first chapbook, the space between, was nominated for the California Book Award and her poems have appeared in numerous journals and anthologies. Her full length book, SOUVENIR, is expected for publication in 2014. Suzara teaches Creative Writing at California State University at Monterey Bay. Of her work, writer Kimberly Dark has said, “Aimee is bringing themes to light that beg to be handled - race and gender, the complexities of immigration and colonization, queer lives and how we navigate our human complexities in the everyday world.”

My mission is to create, and help others create, poetic and theatrical work about race, gender, and the body to provoke dialogue and social change.

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  • Born: New York, NY, USA
  • Based: Oakland, CA, USA

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Alexander Orquiza

b. 1980

Alexander Orquiza is a historian of the twentieth century United States and the Philippines. From 2012-2013, he was an Andrew W. Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow at Wellesley College, and he joined the Tutorial Board of History and Literature at Harvard University in fall 2014. He received his B.A. from the University of California, Berkeley, his M.Phil. from the University of Edinburgh, and his Ph.D. in history from the Johns Hopkins University.
 
His work focuses on cultural and intellectual exchange between the US and the Philippines. His first book, A Pacific Palate: Food and the Philippine Middle Class during the American Period, 1898-1946, is forthcoming. It examines how American colonial reformers, businessmen, educators, and bureaucrats used food to transform the daily lives of Filipinos. Orquiza contends that food reform was essential to the American imperial mission in the Philippines. It created new consumers for American goods as well as farmers who produced goods for the American consumer market. These food reforms affected generations of Filipino public school students and transformed menus in restaurants and hotels. They were part of visual culture in magazine and newspaper advertisements, and were the focus of Philippine-American economic and political debates.
 
Orquiza argues that food is a powerful lens for examining history. Too often, society only considers the fleeting consumer aspects of food—where is the hip new restaurant, what is the latest food fad, how to make so-called “authentic” versions of dishes. But society often ignores the equally important aspects of food supply: how do ingredients arrive at our tables, who is working in farms and kitchens, are they receiving a fair and decent wage. Orquiza asserts history has shaped our individual roles in this market. Knowing how these roles evolved and how they changed over time is just as important as nutritional labels and Yelp reviews. As a historian, Orquiza believes the answers to these questions about food lie in our knowledge of the past.
 

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  • Born: USA
  • Based: Boston, MA, USA

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