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New metaphors for sustainability: the timeless meal

This post comes to you from Ashden Directory

Carolyn Steel calls herself a ‘food urbanist’, and she brings a notion of the ‘good life’ to our series of New metaphors for sustainability

What is it we’re trying to sustain? For me, the meal is the emblematic, wonderful situation that sums up the whole point of sustainability.
I think in metaphor all the time and food has become this way of seeing the world not just in terms of ‘how are we going to feed ourselves in future?’ – this kind of doom and gloom thing – but also in terms of asking ‘what kind of society is it that we are trying to create as well as sustain?’.
When you talk about food, there’s a tendency to talk about ‘how much grain can you produce on that much land with that much water’. That’s very important, but you have to relate every conversation you have about food with the kind of life that you are talking about. It’s about a vision of society, an idea of the good life.
The table is a place where you don’t just share food, but you share ideas, you share love, you share conversation.
It’s a beautiful metaphor of the kinds of things that we’re trying to sustain. It’s society. It’s ‘good life’ in every possible sense – not just good in terms of wonderful food – but also good in terms of the ethics of what you eat. If I am hungry I have a practical problem. If you are hungry, I have an ethical problem.
This business of sitting around a table with other people, the decorum of the table, and the sharing food – it brings the social relevance of sustainability into the conversation.
A timeless meal, a meal that is enjoyed through time that has a past that we all intuitively understand, but a future as well, sums up for me the idea that food is life on earth.
Carolyn is included in our film.
Photo: Feast on the Bridge, 2009, curated by Clare Patey. Photo by Tim Mitchell.

 

 

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The editors are Robert Butler and Wallace Heim. The associate editor is Kellie Gutman. The editorial adviser is Patricia Morison.

Robert Butler’s most recent publication is The Alchemist Exposed (Oberon 2006). From 1995-2000 he was drama critic of the Independent on Sunday. See www.robertbutler.info

Wallace Heim has written on social practice art and the work of PLATFORM, Basia Irland and Shelley Sacks. Her doctorate in philosophy investigated nature and performance. Her previous career was as a set designer for theatre and television/film.

Kellie Gutman worked with the Aga Khan Trust for Culture for twenty years, producing video programmes and slide presentations for both the Aga Khan Foundation and the Award for Architecture.

Patricia Morison is an executive officer of the Sainsbury Family Charitable Trusts, a group of grant-making trusts of which the Ashden Trust is one.

Go to The Ashden Directory

AV Festival 10 Announcement and Call for Artists

Residency at NaREC
(New and Renewable Energy Centre)

AV Festival, in partnership with Inspire Northumberland, seek to appoint an artist in residence at NaREC, the centre of excellence for new and renewable energy technologies in North East England, based in Blyth, Northumberland.

The residency will provide an opportunity for an artist to carry out new research and share ideas in response to one or more areas of sustainable energy technology undertaken by NaREC, which are: Marine Renewables, Offshore Wind, Advanced Photovoltaics, Low Carbon/Distributed energy and Electrical Networks. The fee for the residency is £10,000.

The residency is open to any professional artist working within or outside the UK, and can be worked flexibly between September – February 2010 as part of AV Festival 10. The artist will be invited to give a public presentation about the residency as part of AV Festival 10 which has the theme of energy. The festival dates are 5 – 14 March 2010, and it will take place across Newcastle, Gateshead, Middlesbrough and Sunderland.

Deadline for proposals: 9am, 22 July 2009
Shortlisting: 24 July 2009
Interviews: 5 August 2009

The residency brief can be downloaded here

AV Festival | AV Festival 10 Announcement and Call for Artists.