Que si fue, que si vino, que si calabaza, que si pepino… ¡Ay paisano qué destino!
Immigrate and to cook two actions that apparently are not related, converge in the concept of “sacrifice” and food is the form in which they materialize.
The word sacrifice means “to make it sacred”, to go through this territory means placing things above man, something that he will inexorably oblige to and in a voluntary way.
The Dictionary of the Royal Academy of the Spanish Language defines sacrifice as:
1. Doing sacrifices, to offer or to give something in recognition of the divinity.
2. Killing cows or other animals, especially for consumption.
3. Putting someone or something in some risk or work, to abandon it to death, destruction or damage, in benefit of an end or interest that it’s estimated of greater importance.
4. Renouncing to something to obtain another thing.
5. To be dedicated, to be offered particularly to God.
6. To be held with resignation to something violent or disgusting.
In the context of present times and in spite of the complexity of the contemporary life, man continues to seek the connection with the divine. In his daily life, man creates and recreates rituals form to make out of the profane something divine, meaning he performs the act of sacrifice in different ways.
The experience of immigrating means to abandon physically the land and the family for hope of better opportunities. It is in this context where immigrating acquires a greater dimension as sacrifice, it’s a paradox where the physical abandonment does not means the total renunciation but the expression of love to it. The immigrant is sacrificed to offer better opportunities to his beloved ones, to immigrate implies to be in danger and even risk your life, to face solitude in adverse conditions and to carry out heavy works in different contexts that only makes sense to do as a humble and at the same time magnificent expression of love.
On the other hand the act of cooking universally represents an offering sometimes simple and habitual, and at times sacred and sublime. Cooking is a daily act, but from time to time is a special event where the community gathers to share, thank and celebrate. On a daily basis family gathers around the process of cooking to share after a workday, cooking becomes a sacred activity where you are part of a communion with others creating a space to exercise generosity.
As a personal experience leaving Mexico, family and the beloved ones, food is the medium of expression and the sublimation of the sacrifice act, where all this complex framework of cultural expressions integrates our identity as Mexicans. Cooking is the way to assimilate and to manifest the experiences as immigrants, but it’s also the most intimate form of sharing, offering what we are in an act of communion.
The purpose of this project is to integrate the art making process with gastronomy to create edible or non-edible pieces, with a conceptual and aesthetic value. Through them the spectator is invited to think about the relation between food and identity. As an artist we work with the cultural and symbolic meaning of food to create metaphors materialized in an artwork that transcends the aesthetic experience and is capable of stimulating all senses. The pieces are inspired in typical recipes of Mexican tradition adding ingredients from American culture to make a reference of the experience as immigrants.
For example, the piece ” Garfield Cemetery, memory of corn and red chile” was inspired by the cemetery in Garfield New Mexico, where the tombs of immigrants are mounds of stones, with no flowers, names or elements to identify the dead one. The anonymous bodies that lie down under the stones belong to Latin-American immigrants, which in their culture are identified as corn people. They dedicated part of their life outside of their country, to cultivate red pepper and other typical food of the New Mexico area. The piece was done with Pan del Día de Muertos (Day of the Dead bread), typical of the ofrendas in Mexico, in the shape of stones that cover the tomb, the body under the stones was made out of corn and red pepper tamale. Other symbolic elements related to dead were added, like the cross and candle.