The essence of lunch is combining quickly a myriad of ingredients then tossing or flattening them so they just about hold together while you ravenously tuck in before they disintegrate just as they reach the threshold of your bite.
This is a similar process to how Phoebe Washburn
makes installations, and this time she too ends up with a tasty product. Nunderwater Nort Lab
, Washburn's new exhibition at Zach Feuer Gallery
(through August 12; a parallel exhibition
at Mary Boone Gallery
runs through July 29), combines the bread and butter of her previous installations with the performance of lunch.
A floor-to-ceiling wooden structure made from chunky wood scraps marked with traces of their earlier roles forms the chamber in which Washburn's lunch happens. Like worms prospecting a juicy peach, burrowing holes offer tunnel vision into the laboratory of lunch. No decay occurs inside these holes though; in fact delicate plants seem to be sprouting off the recycled body.
On the opening night food smells wafted through the tunnels and into the gallery space, whilst hungry visitors looked in with hopes of being invited into the food lab to feast with the chosen guests. "Nuderwater Nort Lab" is a dramatic installation, but as with all of Washburn's work, the drama comes from the honesty and sheer labor of the materials, a lack of illusion and a wry humor.
In this piece more than her others, the performance element seems to detract from the minutiae of the construction and the frequent comparisons to the work of Sarah Sze
or Jean Shin
. Instead here our attention shifts to the process. Every time lunch is made the performance of the event seems to power the work, reflecting back on the arduous construction and the frivolity of lunch as part of a much larger cyclical chain of events. It is something of a battle. The monumental construction without the lunch seems like a cumbersome folly, but during the performance, when lunch takes center stage, the giant arena makes the quotidian meal absurd.
Forget the newest foodie hangout. This is a new way to combine lunch and art, and in the process save the legacy of the lunch break forever.
(Images courtesy the artist and Zach Feuer Gallery)