Let them eat LACMA

Around 7,000 years before what is known as the "common era" the world changed forever.  People all over the planet who were once hunter-gatherers started planting their own crops, agriculture was discovered, and a sedentary lifestyle was embraced. At the center of this paramount event lies food.  It was the necessity of food that led to the harvesting of crops and that lead to one of the biggest changes in human life in history.   Food can be found at the center of everything that matters in the world, we are dependent on it, and it is crucial.  And there are many ways to explore the complexity of the human race's relationship with food.

Last Sunday, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art patterned up with Fallen Fruit to present "Let Them Eat LACMA", an event organized to showcase food in all of its glory.   Members of Fallen Fruit, an organization that celebrates fruit and its connection to mankind, say that this event was meant to "examine the most primordial thing that connects us to each other: what, how and why we eat."

The event was host to a plethora of activities for those in attendance. The feeding of a fat man as a modern day salute to Bacchus, the ancient roman god of excess was accompanied by watermelon eating contests held by the frisky Ms. Barbie-Q, who dropped her falsetto only to grunt at her participants to "EAT! EAT! EAT THE WATERMELON!"

People were also encouraged to interact with food in unique ways as there were opportunities to create drums out of watermelons by inserting small microphones into inch long incisions made into the side of melons and banging on their surface with your hands. In addition, as you walked into the museum, you were allowed to eat a doughnut off of a huge wall full of symmetrically spaced hanging doughnuts.

While some exhibits and contributions to the 71 different pieces of work on display were nebulous in purpose, many succeeded in making significant statements.

Dana Gingras, one of the many artists showing work on Sunday, had a piece that she called, "What Is Mine Is Yours." Out on the LA Times Central Courtyard, Dana Gingras and her husband, Justin Charbonneau, partook in a violent and intense sharing of a lemon.

The word "sharing" is somewhat misleading, though, when you take into consideration that they were ripping the lemon out of each other's mouths, biting, sucking and gnawing at one another with only the lemon separating them.

As the acidic insides of the lemon poured down both of their faces, their mouths began to bleed, and they had to occasionally take swigs of pepto bismol to alleviate the burning.  Gingras said there were two main parts to her performance piece.  First, she wanted to remind us of our animalistic nature, and what better way to bring us back to that rawness than by demonstrating it with food?  Gingras was working towards breaking boundaries and explained that she believes that "you're more fully human if you can explore these things, the freedom to destroy food."

Her second focus for the piece was on relationships.  Although Gingras and Charbonneau were the only couple performing the lemon sharing live on Sunday, they had a video playing all day that showed the other couples that Gingras had erotically, comically and intensely rip lemons apart.

There were different types of couples in the video, and every scene exhibited a different set of emotions between the two people as the lemon was devoured.  Some couples seemed nervous in the beginning of their interaction with the lemon, and others were ferocious the whole way through.  Some couples were even smiling at each other with their raw, bloody lips.  "Each couple is different with how they share a lemon, and it's the same in real relationships.  Every relationship is different", Dana says.

Overall, museum goers were left with the images of people covered in bits of tomato and watermelon, half naked fat men and half naked skinny men, swirls of pepto bismol-pink and lemon juice splattered on cement, heaps of smashed fruit abandoned beneath the fruit drop station, and a new found sense of connection to something most people overlook every single day.  Food.

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