PEACE AT THE TABLES?

The Food of War collective have been travelling around the world over the past 10 years, researching and responding to contemporary and historic narratives where food encapsulates the complexity of different conflicts, presenting their work in the form of multimedia exhibitions. These conflicts are not just political, they stretch from the familial to the societal and encompass the collective and the individual, they portray conflicts of belief, of dogma, of personal identity, of contradicting narratives, they are the fabric of human life. 

 

For the most ambitious Food of War exhibition entitled Peace at the Table? 25 artists respond to the subject within the context of contemporary Colombia presenting their work at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Bogotá. Approaching a subject as vast as Food of Waris a Sisyphean task, the relationship between food and conflict is as entwined as that of human life with breath. With each exhibition this international collective (5 core artists and guest artists) has honed in on a particular history, creating expansive projects which invite local audiences to participate through sharing their views and stories.

The exhibition title Peace at the Table? conjures a multitude of images and as a phrase often evokes its antithesis, it speaks also of the chaos beyond the table. It suggests a moment in which the domestic setting acts as an island safeguarded from the turbulent surrounding oceans, the storms and tsunamis beyond. It implies to achieve peace we must be willing to share intimacy, to eat together, to use the same utensils, to breath the same air, to be in the same place at the same time. This is a beautiful idea but in order to eat together, first we must know where the meal is taking place, we must be able to access transport to reach that location, we must understand each other’s languages to share stories, we must be tolerant to the same foods, to share the flavours, we must be equally able-bodied to sit beside each other at a level and we must not be intimated by our neighbours, to feel we can sit beside Colombia’s internal conflict is like an enormous knot, furiously tied together with strings stretching to countries, corporations and individuals all over the world, reaching from deep history to the present. To unpack the conflict requires the knowledge of countless historians, activists, indigenous elders, journalists and scientists; those with knowledge of the many natural resources of the country and how these have been cultivated and exploited over time; those who understand the geography of the country and how the Andes and the Amazon have acted as an impenetrable barriers between communities; those who have studied how the diverse ecosystems have given refuge to the persecuted and secrecy to hidden perpetrators; historians of indigenous practices; of colonial history; of American corporations; of the founding of revolutionary armed forces and the growth of the military and paramilitary - all this and more without even broaching the subject of cocaine. Colombia’s history is probably one of the most complex and misunderstood in the world, glamorised by some, demonised by others, it is a country defined by both blood feuds and blood promises, a nation of passion, love, fear and pain driven by food and conflict.

HERNAN BARROS & GABRIELLA SONEBAND CURATORS

 Food of War 2020