Le Corbuffet
October 01, 2019
Brooklyn, New York
Artist’s Book, Social Sculpture, Chromogenic prints
Overview

Le Corbuffet was a series of Fluxus-inspired participatory events (2015-17) that used food as a medium to explore how cultural canons are consumed and reproduced.

An artist’s book in the form of a cookbook, inspired by these events, was published by Prestel in October 2019.

Le Corbuffet

In 2014, I stumbled across an elaborate menu designed by László Moholy-Nagy. The multi-panelled bill of fare was for a dinner held in tribute to Walter Gropius, the Bauhaus founder and architect, in 1937. The menu featured an elaborate array of dishes for Gropius and his cadre during a time of rations in England. It prompted me to reconsider the often uncritical historical narratives ascribed to Gropius, complicated by his twofold status a cultural icon during his lifetime, and a German immigrant in England and the United States during a time of intense xenophobia. Inspired by the menu for Gropius’s dinner, and the questions that it raised about the appraisal and elitism of cultural production, I decided to conduct a social experiment a year later.

I hosted the first in a series of "Le Corbuffets" in my Brooklyn apartment, a project which carried on until 2017. Offering meals to an assortment of guests, these social gatherings revolved around the presentation and consumption of absurd, pun-inspired dishes that referred to canonical artists and designers.1 As a satirical comment on the elevated status of art, design, and food as contemporary commodities that are often "gobbled up" by the market (paralleling their rarified statuses in interwar Britain), the project deliberately twisted idioms to probe the notion of cultural consumption though taste and perception.

As a conceptual artwork, the publication, Le Corbuffet, appropriates the format and conventions of cookbook publishing (essentially, framing the cookbook as a manual for consumption) to further explore how economic values shape what cultural legacies and artifacts we choose to consume and reproduce. Designed by Studio Lin, the illustrated compendium contains sixty functional recipes akin to Fluxus "action scripts", along with photographs of edible sculptures. By encouraging participants to use food to produce "replicas" of cultural works and narratives that will, inevitably, wildly deviate from the "originals", the project hopes to rewrite and disseminate these cultural legacies and artifacts with new sets of values and interpretations. To this end, the publication situates itself within a lineage of artworks that adopted the format of the cookbook–and the motif of domesticity, more broadly– to reimagine rituals and the quotidian as accessible sites for critical engagement. Food performs as a tool to bridge the relationship between art and everyday life, encouraging participants to engage in a mode of "consumptive production,” which, according to Marshall Sahlins, "Marx did not imagine."2

Related

Studio Lin
Prestel Publishing

Lectures and Interviews

Radio interview with Frances Anderton, "Create an artful dinner party with ‘Le Corbuffet’, DnA, KCRW, Los Angeles (Nov. 26, 2019).

Lecture, "Rem Brûlée and Other Hits: Social Alchemy as Spatial Practice," Sci-Arc, Los Angeles, (Nov. 14, 2018).

Press

Joshua David Stein, "The Best Gifts for Cooking Dads of All Levels," Epicurious (Dec. 13, 2019).

"Lina Bo Bacardi Cocktail," Avery Shorts (Dec. 12, 2019).

Ashley Tibbits, "9 Coffee Table Book Gifts that Double as Beautiful Decor," The Zoe Report (Dec. 3, 2019).

"AN rounds up our must-reads for this fall," Architect's Newspaper (Nov. 15, 2019).

"41 of the Year’s Most Giftable Coffee-Table Books," New York Magazine (Nov. 12, 2019).

Margaux Krehl, "Art de vivre : « Le Corbuffet », le livre de recettes qui cuisine les stars de l’Art," Vanity Fair (France) (Nov. 9, 2019).

Peter Smisek, "Food for thought: Le Corbuffet brings architectural history to the dinner table," Icon Magazine (Nov. 1, 2019).

Todd Plummer, “11 Fall Cookbooks for Every Type of Foodie.” Vogue (Oct. 16, 2019).

LinYee Yuan, “Le Corbuffet is a riotous homage to the art and design of cooking” Interview, MOLD Magazine (Oct. 5, 2019). Web.

Kelly Caminero, "Edible Art: A Menu of Satire and Photography with a Culinary Twist" (Interview), The Daily Beast (Oct. 5, 2019).

Anne Quito, "'Le Corbuffet': A new recipe book affectionately skewers culture snobs," Quartzy (Oct. 4, 2019).

Alexandra Alexa, "This Conceptual Cookbook Riffs on Art, Design, and Taste (Literally and Figuratively)," Core 77 (Oct. 2, 2019).

"Le Corbuffet: Edible Art and Design Classics" (Book review), Creative Colour (Oct. 1, 2019).

Angie Kordic, "An Art Cookbook Like No Other: Le Corbuffet's Esther Choi in an Interview," Widewalls (Sept. 30, 2019).

Pamela Thomas-Graham, "Best New Books in October 2019," Dandelion Chandelier (Sept. 22, 2019).

"Esther Choi’s Book of Satirical and Playful Recipes," Design Milk (Sept. 26, 2019).

Emma Orlow, "A Salad for Frida Kahlo, and Other Artist-Inspired Recipes," T: The New York Times Style Magazine (Sept. 20, 2019).

Alegria Olmeda, "‘Le Corbuffet’ o cómo comerse el arte," FUET Magazine (Sept. 9, 2019).

Holly Black, "Let’s Eat! Delicious Art-Inspired Recipes," Elephant Magazine (Aug. 25, 2019).

Valentina Tanni, "Arte e cibo. Arriva Le Corbuffet, il ricettario concettuale di Esther Choi," Artribune (Aug. 25, 2019).

“A Conceptual Cookbook Makes Food Into Sculptures,” Artnet News. (Aug. 23, 2019).

Kate Sierzputowski, “Le Corbuffet: Conceptual Cookbook Presents Art-Inspired Recipes as Contemporary Sculptures,” Colossal (Aug. 22, 2019).

Le Corbuffet, Kottke.org (Aug. 20, 2019).

"Critical Connoisseur," Interview. Block, issue 18 (Spring/ Summer 2019): 16-17.

Kristina Ljubanovic, "A Large Brooklyn Loft that Looks Like a Dream," The Globe and Mail, (November 2, 2017).