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Zahra Bundakji

Acquired Palates and Painful Plummets

Marble, Metal, Salt, Spices, Avocado, Water, Glass.


When observing our political economy, social behaviours, and even health systems, we will notice that many problems can be traced back to food. In a multitude of ways, the palates associated with “wellness” and “health foods’’ are having a painful effect on a global and local scale. This realization has led me to reconsider our common conceptions around “wellness.” By looking mindfully beyond our individual food preferences, we can consider what is environmentally, ethically, and socially conscious on both scales.

Text by curator Fabien Danesi.

Eating is an activity in which the natural and the cultural intermingle, perhaps indistinguishably so, as one does not need to know the history of a spice to taste it. But eating cannot be reduced to physiological necessity. Rather, it often serves social or religious functions, like in community gatherings and ritual practices, demonstrating that necessity is only part of the story: to be interested in food is to intertwine notions of health, affect, pleasure, hunger, taste, memory, and endless other associations.

Zahra Bundakji focuses on industrial food production, with an emphasis on salt, pepper, and spices. These foods have contributed to human progress by enabling dietary diversification and a form of democratization. But over the course of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, they have also become symbols of a globalized economy in which food increasingly appears disconnected
from the territories that produce it. In
view of this, the artist produces a series of place cards that abstractly evoke the circulation of these spices. Domestic and industrial aesthetics then combine to question, in their multidimensionality,
our relationship with food.

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