Le Corbuffet
August 01, 2019
Brooklyn, New York
Performance, Sculpture, Photography
Overview

Le Corbuffet was a series of Fluxus-inspired participatory events (2015-17) that used food as a medium to comment on the increasing privatization of culture.

A conceptual artwork in the form of a cookbook, inspired by these events, will be released by Prestel in 2019.

Le Corbuffet

In 2014, I stumbled across an elaborate menu crafted by László Moholy-Nagy. The multi-panelled bill of fare was for a dinner held in tribute to the Bauhaus founder and architect, Walter Gropius, in 1937. Inspired by the menu for Gropius’s dinner, and the questions that it raised about the elitism and valuation 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 consumption of absurd, pun-inspired dishes that referred to canonical artists and designers.1 As a commentary on the status of art, food, and design as commodities to be "gobbled up" by the market, the project deliberately twisted idioms to probe the notion of "aesthetic consumption" though taste and perception. I wanted to explore what it means for canons to be consumed and reproduced, but how in revisiting great figures/ works (and their narratives) we might reframe and engage with historical legacies to achieve new and different outcomes.

A conceptual artwork in the form of a cookbook, based on these events, was published by Prestel Publishing in October 2019. Designed by the acclaimed graphic design practice Studio Lin, the vividly illustrated book contains sixty recipes or "action scripts", along with photographs of edible sculptures. Rather than prompt the reader to reenact the original "score" or set of events, the Fluxus-inspired artwork-cum-cookbook encourages the participant to improvise—or rewrite it—at will to generate a new set of outcomes.

The publication situates itself within a legacy of artworks that adopted the format of the cookbook–and the motif of domesticity, more broadly– to reimagine rituals as potential sites for critique and invention. As a conceptual artwork, it attempts to appropriate the conventions of cookbook publishing to circulate a critical proposition to a broader audience. Food is positioned as a tool to examine the politics of sharing and hospitality, encouraging participants to enact modes of what anthropologist Marshall Sahlins has referred to as "consumptive production."2. In so doing, the project hopes to suggest that in an era of rampant neoliberal privatization, there is something crucial in the idea that anyone can make anything–especially experiences meant for sharing– using ordinary things.

Related

Studio Lin
Prestel Publishing

Lectures

Rem Brûlée and Other Hits: Social Alchemy as Spatial Practice - A talk at Sci-Arc, Los Angeles

Press

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).