ORANGE, the Contemporary Art Event of Saint-Hyacinthe, is entering its fourth edition. It is now possible to speak of a triennial event which judiciously amalgamates agri-food and contemporary art. Arising out of the observation by art historians that food, as subject matter or artistic material, plays an important part in contemporary art, the event has found its perfect home base in Saint-Hyacinthe, the capital of our agri-food industry. Over the years, more than fifty professional artists from Quebec, the rest of Canada and several other countries have presented their work here, often created specifically for the event. Strange works of art in vacant downtown storefronts, immense photographs hung on the front of the public market, ephemeral displays, soup kitchens, giant farm animals: the variety of artistic forms shown is what makes the event unique.
For the present edition, we have taken as our starting point the observation that without food, living things die. Behind this obvious fact lies the close connection between food and death. This has led us to the act of eating meat, to the slaughter of animals, to hunting and the decay of food, and to rituals and religious beliefs involving food, such as cannibalism. These topics have been approached by way of a number of themes and concepts long explored in art, such as the still life, amateur hunting photography and the Memento Mori.
This two-fold concern – eating and death – soon led us to set aside food somewhat in favour of those who consume it. Hence the event’s title, Les Mangeurs. Approaching its topic at a remove from foodstuff, ORANGE 2012 explores instead the question of those who eat, their condition as mortals and their complex relationship with food.
As little as we may think about it, the act of survival called eating that we perform daily brings us face to face with our own instincts and animal nature. The consumption of food by this mortal body that we paradoxically wish to be immortal also however brings us to two kinds of behaviour, the individual and the collective. In the former case, that of the private body, one thinks of the comforting habits, anxieties and obsessions around the act of nourishment. The latter case, that of the social body, includes commemorations, celebrations, sacrifices, offerings and rituals.
Need and fatality. Approached separately or together, food and death have always interested artists, clearly fascinated by these fundamental concepts characteristic of human beings. The paths we explore and the hypotheses we propose find their moorings in the work of the nineteen artists invited to participate, who extend the scope of these thoughts through diverse and astonishing practices full of contrasts and subtleties.
Ève Dorais, Véronique Grenier, Eve Katinoglou
© 2012 EXPRESSION, Centre d'exposition de Saint-Hyacinthe | All Rights Reserved