Last weekend in Boston the Transcultural Exchange hosted the 2013 Conference on International Opportunities in the Arts, themed Engaging Minds. The panel entitled Food as an Art Form included me. I was nervous as hell.
At a cocktail reception, Friday night, the night before I was slated to speak, I engaged with a man who was, oddly enough, neither an artist nor a person offering opportunities to artists. Wonder of wonders, he was a food dude. Swiss, sharp, sophisticated, part scientist, part entrepreneur, an embracer of ideas and thinker of big thoughts.
Me? Conflicted, struggling with my outlier status as a food stylist. I walk the line, often leaping into the advertising/PR mosh pit. Is it art? Nope. AN art? Yep. A little shop talk tracking the Venn diagram of the business of food and the art of food and the business of both sparked the man's remark that what we do is "create desire." Ding ding ding ding! Gongs bonged in my head.
Francesco Panese, Associate Professor of Social Studies of Science and Medicine in the Lausanne University and consultant to Nestlé, gave me that strap from which to hang and hang on tight I did, swinging from art to food to business to deception to art to food to consumption to art to food to...you get the train here. For those of us (ME! ME! ME!) who are fascinated by how food defines, connects, divides and consumes us, the panel was fascinating. Thank you, Mr. Panese. I will always remember my ultimate intent while at work, to create desire.