Choose your dates:

  1. Saturday, April 20, 2024

  2. Sunday, April 21, 2024

Exhibitions

Lost Suppers

About the Exhibition

Meals, in preparation, consumption, and destruction, are the subject-lens through which these works address issues ranging from identity and domesticity to science and politics. Leonardo Da Vinci’s iconic 15th-century mural depicting Jesus’s last meal inspires Vivek Vilasini’s Last Supper—Gaza, in which the Bangalore-based artist recasts the Christian disciples as Palestinian women dressed in traditional hijabs. Their meal is simple, even sparse; their gestures and expressions varied and vibrant, captured in the midst of an impassioned discussion. Vilasini transforms Leonardo’s Renaissance image into a contemporary allusion to the struggles and hardship faced by Palestinians living in Gaza—in the Holy Land—today, without a nation, and often, without adequate food.

The global food supply is the subject of Katja Loher’s video sculpture Last Supper?, which also adopts Da Vinci’s title. In the plates, glasses, and carafe atop a table set for two appear projected images of costumed dancers and color coordinated arrangements of foodstuffs, both real and imagined. Working with choreographers, Loher films the performances from above, giving us a bird’s eye view into a magical world both delightful and provocative. On one plate-screen, uniformed dancers cavort amidst familiar fruits and vegetables, mimicking the movements of bees, while in the adjacent scene, a heterogeneous group of participants partake of meals in pill-form and dried fruit—“astronaut food,” the artist says. Lines of text on color-coordinated backgrounds describe a world without pollination, and the ensuing impact on human nutrition: without flies, there will be no chocolate; without bats, tequila will disappear. Loher’s use of technology, performance, and perspective to delineate the consequences of ignoring current warnings about the extinction of bees creates a dream-world rife with real-world questions: could there be a last supper in the not-too-distant future?

Childhood fantasies of mealtime mayhem are realized in Anthony Goicolea’s Feastings and Julie Blackmon’s Candy. Both scenes are void of adults, save for behind the camera: Goicolea’s identical, uniformed schoolboys—self-portraits of the artist, digitally multiplied—engage in an epic food fight amidst sumptuous excess, while Blackmon’s revelers are caught post-party, nearly satiated and somber. Hanging in the background is a reproduction of Thomas Gainsborough’s 18th-century Blue Boy, heightening the wistful mood of joy—and childhood—rapidly lost.

Mortality is the defining theme of the centuries-old still life tradition in Western art, a convention Ori Gersht mines and explodes in his painterly photographs and videos. Falling Bird replicates the composition of Jean-Baptiste-Siméon Chardin’s A Mallard Duck Hanging on A Shelf with a Seville Orange (1720-30). The sharpness and slow motion of the film at times approximate an oil painting, though when the action begins and the rope holding the pheasant aloft is cut, Gersht’s vision expands beyond the frame of art-historical precedence to address a host of contemporary issues. Born and raised in Israel, Gersht grew up acutely aware of the threat of violence; his deceptively alluring still lifes and landscapes invoke or enact acts of destruction and loss—flowers explode like shrapnel, fruits suddenly burst with juice like bodies shot unaware, a dead bird is plunged into dark waters to the soundtrack of a missile’s mechanical rumble and the propulsion of a jet plane ascending. An elegy to personal and collective memory, Falling Bird alters perceptions of time, motion, and beauty to expose the persistence of violence embedded in the everyday.

Exhibited Works

Julie Blackmon (American)
Candy, 2007
Archival digital print

Ori Gersht (Israeli)
Falling Bird, 2008
single-channel HD film

Anthony Goicolea (American)
Feastings, 2002
Chromogenic print

Vivek Vilasini (Indian)
Last Supper – Gaza, 2008
K3 inks on archival canvas

Katja Loher (swiss)
Last Supper?, 2012
Acrylic table with embedded video screen, crystal carafe, 2 glasses

Watch our artist interview with Katja Loher, whose work is also featured at 21c Bentonville’s on-site restaurant The Hive