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tv   Witness  LINKTV  September 14, 2022 3:00am-3:31am PDT

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woman: we love food. we all eat food. food is yummy. however, do we think about the relationship we have to food or the relationship of food to the world at large and our society? current:la food was a public art triennial that looked at art and looked at food, and it was an opportunity to look at the multiple dimensions of food through the perspective of artists. artists are really good at stepping back and looking at what's happening and then re-presenting these ideas in new ways. the artists were
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given the theme of the triennial, which was food, and harnessed the topic in amazing ways with art projects all over the city. 15 artists, 15 public programmers doing work in 15 parks in 15 council districts. so it was vast and exciting and a way to experience food differently throughout the city.
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announcer: funding for "current:la food" was made possible by the city of los angeles department of cultural affairs. "artbound" is made possible in part by: the city of los angeles department of cultural affairs; the los angeles county department of arts and culture; an award from the national endowment for the arts, on the web at; and the california arts council. woman: we live in a great city that is an incredibly rich and diverse culinary site. it's an international city with so many cuisines, but there's so much to food. food is pleasure, and it's peril. it can be delicious, and it can be dangerous. it is something that has those polar tensions. we have an enormous amount of food insecurity for a population
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that is experiencing homelessness. we talk about going green and fixing the environmental crisis, and yet we have an enormous amount of food waste going on. what kind of food are we gonna eat when the big one hits? how often do we think about our relationship to food or food's relation to the world around us? these are things that we tend not to think about. so artists are really good at stepping back and looking at what's happening and then re-presenting these ideas in new ways to inform us, to inspire us, and to call us to action. so what happens when you throw out the topic of food to a group of artists? what are the ideas around food, the issues around food, the wonders of food, the controversies of food, and in the case of emily marchand, she's looking at the
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existence of our homeless neighbors and how they are suffering from food insecurity and hunger. emily: in my own practice, i work with ideas around survival, ideology, agriculture, food scarcity, food accessibility, and i felt like iouldn't approach this topic without thinking about the city i live in and the homeless epidemic that is going on here. woman: ok. emily: you take one. how many is that? i think--maybe one... woman: ok. emily: we are going to be doing lunch packing for 1,000 lunches for the local homeless community, followed by a picnic that will be done on an 8,000-square-foot textile that i am creating--ha ha ha--right now. instead of trying to solve a problem, i'm trying to bring light to something thais very crucial and very important and
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very human, and so i feel like for me, rather than thinking on this huge scale, it's become very focused, which is really a big learning expernce for me ofust like if you work small and you get all these people together that you can start to plant this seed for bringing different ideas into different communities to help everybody out. asuka: so public art takes many forms. we think about public art often as perhaps a sculpture in a park. it's very static, but today, public art is dimensional. torolab is a collective of artists based in tijuana, mexico, and they were invited to do their project in watts at ted watkins park. being unfamiliar with the neighborhood, they got into
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their mode of research and started to speak with many stakeholders and community members, and being in a park was also of particular thrust for them because they looked at the culture of a public park in los angel and the barbecue. torolab is reimagining the barbecue experience and is creating a pop-up installation each time they do an event, and their project is called "the watts cookbook." watts is this community of mixed demographics, and historically it has faced issues commonly associated with low-income communities. it has a history of social unrest, a struggle for racial justice, and that results in a lack of resources, public services, and affordable access to healthy foods. watts is one area of los angeles that's considered a food desert. however, there's an incredible resiliency found in
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watts, that despite its history of social unrest, its struggle for racial justice, and lack of resources, there is an incredible spirit. man: that's it. ok. [speaking spanish] different man: today, it's "the watts cookbook fireup and workshop." it's basically the culmination of a process in which we engaged the community. so the result of what we're eating today is part of this cookbook. this cookbook are not only the memories and part of a document, but it's part of what this community is. it's a
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portrait. it is the way people live, and it's through their recipes and their flavors in which we have built what we're cooking today. now when we have the cookbook as a printed thing, the first part will be this health of our bodies and the body of the city in terms of the relationship of the way that we give nutrients to our bodies from an emotional sense to the particulars of the vitamins and minerals and how that looks in a map to the recipes and who each individual is who has given us a recipe. and the last part is what are we going to propose? what is going to be left behind, no? so this is not something that just came as an occurrence, as a happening, especially in a place like this. in a place like this, i mean, with all the complexities--the ethnographical, socioeconomical--that south l.a.
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has. it is a conversation between the interpretation that we have right now of what we're doing and the recipes themselves that we have gathered. with all the information that we have, with all of the neighbors, organization, people who have entrusted us with the confidence of their life stories, it is a very important document. in the hands of a smart city planner or a city maker, they could envision how this could be better. on the meanwhile, we will try to envision that ourselves continuing this type of engagement.
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asuka: when i think of leimert park, i think of the vibrancy of one of the oldest neighborhoods in our city. it's this incredible neighborhood filled with resiliency and creative culture. so how do you integrate public art in a place at is already very public and might already have a lot of art and culture going on? you do it very carefully. man: so the piece that is in the park it's--a jack totem it's called, and it's a play on words. it's made out of car jacks and truck jacks, but it's also a dialogue with, um, a sort of other narrative within the piece, whichs, uh, "jack and the beanstalk." my interpretation of it is the idea of overcoming your fear and succeeding, you know, but also kind of having a dream that maybe other people might not necessarily be as convinced about, but your conviction to push forward and climb.
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so the entire sculpture is actually kind of made with room service--they're covers, these kind of warmers, these silver warmers, as well as boot laces, and the boot laces for me is a material i use in my work a lot. it's a kind of metaphor for movement. it's also--within this piece, it's a reference to sort of the adage pulling yourself up by your bootstraps, which is a kind of misnomer in a sense because it's impossible to do that. you kind of need help. you need a community, you need support. the really important component of that in addition to the warmers are the rebars. in a lot of cultures and the culture i grew up in jamaica, a rebar sticking out at the homes sort of is a reference to the idea of progress, in fact, or potential that can happen for building another floor for, for moving forward. this is my first time getting the experience of leimert park. i live in harlem in new york, and so i remember ben caldwell
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saying that leimert park is like the harlem of l.a., and i didn't know what he meant, butut in being here i realized that it's a black community, very rich, cultural roots, and the community for me was special in that respect. coming from harlem and seeing harlem change, and i think they're figuring out what change might mean for them, leimert park. you know, there's a new subway line coming in, a lot of talk about gentrification, and so they're trying to figure that out, and i'm intrigued with how that's moving forward. asuka: it would be really hard to talk about food without referencing culture, especially in los angeles. the food is from so many people bringing their recipes, bringing their flavors, their spices, their ideas, their mixes, and it all comes from somewhere.
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julio and max are very interested in where food comes from and historically where food comes from. their whole project is developed through the idea of home, you know, the duality. there's home, your homeland, and then home your new home. man: o project is called new shores. max: it's a dialogue between two homelands, and it's based on the first chapter of "the orange tree" written by carlos fuentes. that chapter talks about being of two shores, you know, two homelands, two cultures, two religions, two languages, and you don't feel like you belong to either one, but you belong to both of them and that struggle. julio: so through food, we're looking at how do immigrants
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contribute to the cuisine of the united states, what kind of food did they leave behind, what kind of food do they have in gatherings, what kind of food do they not find in los angeles, and essentially we are looking at the impact of being an immigrant in the united states. max: and so we're looking at this as one she is in the past, one shore is current, where you are at, and then we're looking for the first time with our projects, we're looking at the shore that's in the future and, like, how the food and culture transformed based on what's happening with the environment. julio: we are really interested in the power and the ability of food to actually create a dialogue, so i think one of the aspects of this project is for
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people to walk away with a knowledge or at least an inquiry that they might be interested in exploring a bit more whether that's issues of migration or issues of sustainability with the food that we're serving. max: you know, we don't have to be right, but we want to at least start that discussion. asuka: so you have some artists thinking about the future of food through cultural migration, and then you have other artists who are thinking about what will it taste like in a whole different way involving science and biology and technology and where the kitchen is even gonna change. man: something that i find personally compelling is, you know, making art that's useful, something that is productive, thinking of, like, what are the resources that go into the artwork, and what does it produce? of course, it produces, like, dialogue, right? everybody talks about that, but it could also be productive in a concrete way. so it's not the kind of artwork that, you know, sits on a wall, but something that's a little bit more part of people's lives,
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that gives them nutrition, provides, you know, something that's needed and essential, and in doing that kind of cuts away some of the waste that exists in the food system as it is. then that's what this kind of bioreactor facility is doing. nonfood is a company that i co-founded. we specialize in algae-based foods, and the reason we focus on algae is because it has a really, really low resource footprint. essentially it's the first photosynthetic organism, so it's the first organism to take light energy from the sun and convert it into food. you know, it's evolved to be very, very efficient at growing really fast. so potentially you can make the same amount of food with just 1% of the resources. so 1% of the land and water and 1% of the co2 emisons of other plant-based foods like corn and soy and other common crops. so we're going to fill up those columns with water and have algae growing in it so you can eat algae.
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asuka: and so it's a very beautiful and intriguing architectural installation that will bring you in and sort of teach you about this way of making food but also reflecting on our situation and why we have to think this way about food. ry rocklen's practice has an uncanny ability to bring us to things we love, things we love in popular culture, and one of those things we love is junk food or popular foods that he then turns into powerful foods. ry: this past couple years, i've been working on a project called "food group," a cast of characters, giant food costumes made small again, and this
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further evolution of the "food group" project, which is to me such a natural elution, to have these "food group" costumes performed in in public. asuka: so when we watch one of these "food group" performances, we're attracted, of course, by the musical, and yet there's a side of it that is sort of saying we're obsessed with this, and perhaps there should be some warning labels around this obsession. ry: have a quick spritzer. so. yeah you guys all in position and then, uh... man: position? ry: yeah. let's just start from the top. man: all right. here we go. ry: the ods i'vehosen and rendered in costumes are all
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quite heavy literally, but then i was thinking more figuratively about the heaviness of these foods upon the earth, the kind of intense power and energy that's needed to creatthese foods--the cows in the pastures, the mass production and shipment of buns from wheat fields as big as the state of idaho. i don't know. so there's a kind of tremendous weight in the production of this food. they're incredibly powerful foods, they're incredibly dangerous foods, but they're also so much fun. performers: ♪ cha cha cha ♪ [siren] asuka: we're surrounded by processed food, common everyday snack foods, junk foods,
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whatever you want to call it, and ere one tist is playfully talking about how we're obsessed with these powerful foods, you have another artist that sort of looks at that power in a different way, the way these junk foods are sort of ominous to our health and to society at large. woman: i'm from south central, born in, like, compton, but then i moved over to south central, specifically the neighborhood of watts, and i can pin down 3 events that kind of led me to create this work. one of them was traveling and commuting back and forth from santa clarita to south central and, like, witnessing that food disparity and, like, that divide between the access that my community has to healthier and organic foods. the other was
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being hospitalized at age 12. i had, like, emergency appendicitis and ovarian cysts that they found by surprise. so that was the surgery that came about from eating a lot of flaming hots, and then the third stemmed from pretty much watching my youngest sister struggle with issues of obesity. so my process kind of began working with her and, like, using our diets as a way to make work. when i was in middle school, eating flaming hot cheetos was, like, the lifestyle for my friend and i. like, we would have it for breakfast, lunch, dinner. like, this was all the time. we can, like, kill one of the largest bags, like, and eat that throughout the day. i use it because of the experience i've had with them, but not only that, it also--like, i'm using them to talk about red 40, yellow 6, and all of the dyes that are put into all of these processed foods that are marketed essentially to our communities. red 40,
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yellow 6, blue 1, and all of these other colors are universal additives that are put into processed foods. so essentially they lead to hyperactivity in children, are considered carcinogens, and pretty much, you know, aid to, like, deteriorate your health. so, like, they're really bad for you. asuka: her installation makes reference to the history of minimalist sculpture or minimalist form, but what's really interesting is that she's inserted a tension between something that is minimalist with something that's mass produced or mass consumed like flaming hot cheetos, and so that juxtaposition makes it accessible and also contemplative. jazmin: we're around an area that has a lot of convenience stores and liquor stores and pretty much sell a lot of processed foods, and other areas in los angeles are actually considered food oases, which means they have, like, an
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abundance of healthier foods. so it's kind of like pointing out those disparities. i definitely want people who come by and visit the piece to walk away with knowledge of what a food desert is, what areas are considered food deserts in south l.a., but not only here but in different areas around the world. asuka: so we have these projects in neighborhoods that have been called food deserts, but torolab is proving through their research and their digging that they can find a wellspring of information about how food is made and how it has been made throughout history in the community. raul: i don't know if we have over almost 300 recipes right now. everybody who comes either
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makes the commitment or just gives us a recipe, and maybe it's theecipe of their fe or maybe the recipe of their brother, or maybe it's something that they wish to eat or maybe something that has been passed through generations from the african-ameran peoplwho came from louisiana, the very beginning, or the people who came from latin america, and that shift can be looked at through the flavors of these recipes, right? so in essence, the construction of this cookbook is also part of what this landscape is. woman: oh, and also, the lady right there has also done one. i haven't given her one. yeah. different woman: welcome. [speaking spanish] different woman: just give me yours. this right here. taste that. i'm sorry. this is
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chicken? man: this is chicken over here. woman: yeah. one of those. man: i'm diego becerra. i'm a chef in two restaurants in sinaloa, mexico. when raul and torolab does events that involve food, i go in to help them with the research and develop recipes. kid: mama! woman: hi. diego: this event was trying to bring together a community. we started thinking of what to serve. since there's so many different cultures and backgrounds in this area, we had to figure out a way to have something that was going to appeal to everyone. there's a dish in my state that's called frijol con hueso, which means beans with bone, but i made my own version here with short rib and beans that i could get here, and it turned out a great soup. where's his happy face? man: happy face? where's the happy face? raul: the recipe of the bean and bone watts soup, which in
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essence has certain flavors of louisiana, of sinaloa, of sonora, of latin america, and it's anique plate. diego: like they used toay in the westn movies, it sticks your ribs. that's a kind of eling, i think, this soup can get you, and the cool thing is this recipe was madeere in watts. emily: feel inside here. it's gonna be heavy. you got that?
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asuka: what emily has done with her piece, "a thousand lunches," is create this 8,000-square-foot quilt. 8,000 square feet. it's enormous. emily: it's hard to keep track of it. ha ha ha! the red-white, huh? man: yeah. i'm, like, really glad there's a color. emily: the blanket is 1,400 yards of 100% cotton, and the pigments have been sourced from natural materials. woman: so if you want to pull yours corner to corner and then... emily: there's hibiscus, turmeric, cabbage, onion peels, indigo, and i have basically mapped out my design based on different symbols in nature or survival tools. there's, like, a butterfly shape, there's a sun, there is rain drops, there's blood drops. when i do a lot of my work, i range from looking at hieroglyphics and
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cave drawings to clip art on the internet because both of those spectrums look at symbols that have been distilled into the most recognizable form to communicate information, so each of the pigments are cut into one of the shapes, and each of those shapes are a pocket, and in each of those pockets are seeds. at the end of the day, everyone will join me on the picnic, and then we will all cut it up, and people can plant it in their own pot, yard, public land, space, and so that's what i decided to do with this quilt that's going to exist for one day. ha ha ha! you know, there's a little bit of anxiety or sadness that you're working super hard that this thing that is just gonna be destroyed, but i'm actually looking at it on the opposite end of, you know, where it's like going to go out and keep living in different ways.
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asuka: shana lutker has big concerns about our environment and the way we can change our behavior in terms of having that change for the better happen and really engaging the mmunity in the awareness of how much waste we generate. shana: we are standing in front of "the contemporary museum of temporary containers." what it is is a collection of over 1,300 single-use food and drink containers that i collected over the summer with the help of the community of the valley plaza recreation center, and once we had amassed the collection, we decided to sort
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it by the material that it was made of and its shape and size, using the plastic codes that are on the bottom of the containers and also by aluminum, by paper, and in those different categories, each one was assigned a color, and so as you walk past the collection, the color shifts in order to signify a different section of containersi reallyanted to work with the community here and make a project that was pefully open to them, and it is, in fact, a portrait of them. it is their trash, it's their containers, and i think that they see it in a way that's different from how i see it because these containers look different than my containers. so it kind of reflects this community in a way, even more than i had imagined. i used this project as a way to learn about recycling because it was something that i was curious about, and i am by no means


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