A Veritable Feast
Ex-ci’-to-tox-in: a substance added to foods and beverages that literally stimulates neurons to death, causing brain damage of varying degrees. Can be found in such ingredients as monosodium glutamate, aspartame (NutraSweet®), cysteine, hydrolyzed protein, and aspartic acid.
“Excito! Excito!”: A Veritable Feast is a collaborative artwork that creates, documents, and serves food dishes that represent and examine the past, present and foreseeable future of American food creation, production, manufacturing, and consumption.
The speed of our daily lives is exponentially accelerating in light of the fast-paced technological advancements and the correspondent demands of those advancements. One consequence is that meals are becoming quicker to prepare and eat: fast food restaurants sell soy burgers enhanced with grilled beef flavor crystals; Monsanto produces genetically modified organisms in the quest for perfect fruits and vegetables. Artificial food additives, or excitotoxins, including aspartame and monosodium glutamate have found their way into more than three quarters of our supermarket shelves. These excitotoxins have been linked to obesity, eye damage, and bone loss.
Traditionally, Thanksgiving is the quintessential time to indulge in a delicious feast. Every year, the preparation of the Thanksgiving meal eases with the addition of a newly prepackaged dish for public consumption: cranberry sauce is reduced to gelatinous form and extracted from a can; yams are canned only to be topped with a product made from entirely artificial ingredients and flavors (i.e., marshmallows); and, stuffing comes neatly packaged in a box with flavor already in tow. The Thanksgiving edition of “Excito! Excito!” invites the viewer to indulge in a meal that offers the past, present, and foreseeable future of this iconic meal.
A beautiful tablescape offers a complete survey of Thanksgiving dishes throughout the past century. Homemade mashed potatoes and stuffing share the table with Stove Top stuffing and Sea Mist cranberry sauce. An assortment of flavored gelatin dishes are also available. The flavorless, homogeneous texture of gelatin is the perfect medium in which to explore the appropriation of flavor. The visceral experience of eating a slice of pumpkin pie with cool whipped cream, or taking a bite of chewy stuffing covered in warm gravy, directly contrasts the consumption of its gelatin counterpart. Each gelatin dish delivers flavor in its “purest” form while its bland, rubbery texture simultaneously denies the viewer the physical experience of eating natural food. We foresee this as the feasible future of American food – food distilled into pure flavor that can be consumed with the least amount of preparation. This presentation prompts the viewer to consider the widespread industrial practice of substituting natural foods for artificial ingredients and additives.