Art, Food, and the Social and Meliorist Goals of Somaesthetics


  • Else Marie Bukdahl



somaesthetics, interdisciplinary, corporality, the art of eating, meliorist goal, performing art, relational orientation, community, Fluxus


In his somaesthetics, Richard Shusterman emphasizes, to a much greater degree than other contemporary pragmatists, the importance of corporality for all aspects of human existence. He focuses particularly on “the critical study and cultivation of how the living body (or soma) is used as the site of sensory appreciation (aesthesis) and creative self-stylization.” [1]
Somaesthetics is grounded as an interdisciplinary project of theory and practice. Many in the academic field have asked Richard Shusterman why he has not included “the art of eating” in his somaesthetics. He recently decided to do this and he has held lectures on this subject in, for example, in Italy with the title The Art of Eating. L’Art di mangiare at the conference Food, Philosophy and Art - CIBO, Filosofia e Arte, Convergence Pollenzo, April 4-5, 2013 in collaboration with students from the University of Gastronomic Sciences. He has opened a new field, which is discussed in my article.
The main subject in my article on visual art and eating will be a presentation of the internationally renowned Thai artist Rirkrit Tiravanija, who has created many surprising installations in Thailand, other countries in the east, Europe and particularly the US, where he resides and is professor at Columbia University. His installations often take the form of stages or rooms for sharing meals, cooking, reading and playing music. The architecture or other structures he uses always form the framework for different social events. His work is fundamentally about bringing people together. Also a project Rikrit Tiravanija created with his Danish friends in the group SUPERFLEX will be described.
I will also analyse the projects of other artists who have worked with the relationship between art and the art of eating or food, such as the Korean artist Yeonju Sung, the Chinese artist Song Dongand, the English artist Prudence Emma Staite and the Swiss-German artist Dieter Roth.