Let art engage your senses

MOCA’s fall exhibition takes new look at everyday objects

Tiffany Cheung, Contributing Reporter

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This year’s Fall Exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) Cleveland features two exhibitions: Ferran Adrià’s “Notes on Creativity” and Kirk Mangus’ “Things Love.”

Both of these exhibitions feature a new look at contemporary art. Jill Snyder, the executive director of the museum, said that the exhibits are trying to “expand the definition of contemporary art.” But, it’s not often that food or ceramic works would be considered art.

The food that was portrayed at this exhibit was realistic enough to want to eat. Ferran Adrià, a Spanish chef often called the best chef in the world, used plasticine molds for handmade repetitions of the foods he made. Looking around the room of the “Ferran Adrià: Notes on Creativity” exhibit shows the thought process and mindset of Adrià. He drew everything with precision and expertise, and although his sketches did not involve colors, the dishes were easy to imagine. Simply looking at the sketches would make any foodie’s mouth water.

Wandering into a dark room showing the documentary “1846,” one would immediately notice the screen with high definition close-ups of the dishes that Adrià made and the sounds in the room. Brett Littman, the curator of this exhibit, wanted this video to “conceptually give us the final product.”

Each sound in the video was carefully chosen to give the effect of a real restaurant visit. There are the sounds of Adrià’s actual kitchen, the dining room of Adrià’s restaurant, water lapping on the cove near the restaurant and an opera that someone wrote after eating Adrià’s handcrafted dishes.

Littman tried his best to give the feel of Adrià’s food. He tried to engage all our senses except, of course, taste.

Littman wants students to go to this exhibit and realize that they could connect with Adrià and his precision-based dishes. While Adrià was creating his dishes, he needed to adopt many different disciplines and innovative ways of thinking. He hired scientists, industrial designers and other professionals to help with the process.

Adrià didn’t want his food to appeal specifically to taste. Through his unique techniques, he wanted his food to appeal to all the senses.

“It’s way more than art,” said Julius Barkley, gallery attendant for the MOCA Cleveland. Barkley noted how the exhibit aims to change the way people interpret and look at food. Food is not only about taste; it is about what we see, smell, feel and hear too. Adrià’s restaurant wasn’t a mere restaurant with fancy dishes; it was a platform of creativity.

The ceramic pieces of the “Kirk Mangus: Thing Love” exhibit is in the next room. This exhibit features a different perspective of ceramic pieces. After all, one would expect a coffee mug to be a certain shape and size. However, the mug that Mangus creates is filled with color, uneven edges and fingerprints from where he pushed and pulled the clay. The finger imprints aim to show movement in the pieces. Mangus didn’t create rigid, everyday, mundane objects. Instead, he created pieces of art.

Rose Bouthillier, the curator of this exhibit, notes that the unpolished and unique pieces show “the return to the hand.”

Mangus wanted art to be human and full of life. All his ceramic pieces, from start to finish, were purely created by his own hands—he even dug for his own clay locally and built his own kilns. Bouthillier also notes that the ceramic pieces on the right wall were placed in no particular order. Instead, the pieces aim to show a stream of consciousness.

Most people put things in contact with fire to destroy them. In this case, however, both food and ceramic pieces used heat to create final products that aim to engage our senses. The Fall Exhibition at the MOCA Cleveland will be held from Sept. 26 to Jan. 18, 2015.

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