All in One Basket—Buffet Act I, 1997
Materials: Exhibition and public engagement project, Galerie Saint Eustache, Les Halles, Paris, France
Catalogued: Lucy + Jorge Orta: Food Water Life. Princeton Architectural Press NY, pp24-25
Exhibition history: 1997 Saint Eustache Gallery, Les Halles Paris, France
Courtesy: Lucy + Jorge Orta
Lucy + Jorge Orta’s fascination with food was inspired by the 1996 French farmers’ protest against European free market legislation, which authorised the importation of low cost agricultural produce from neighbouring European countries. French farmers, fearing their livelihoods in jeopardy, dumped their entire harvest—tons and tons of fruit and vegetables—onto the highways to draw attention to their plight. Shocked by the mountains of edible wasted food and the desperate plight of the farmers, Lucy + Jorge Orta went on weekly gleaning expeditions to the Parisian open-air markets to collect the over-ripe produce that was discarded onto the streets at the end of each market. Not only did they collect hundreds of kilos of ripe produce every week, which they cooked and preserved to make jam-reliquaries, they interviewed the communities of gleaners to create an audio archive of the process, which was later incorporated into their objects.
A year later, curator Jérôme Sans invited the artists to exhibit their work at the Galerie St Eustache, situated in the heart of the former market district of Les Halles. For the opening of their exhibition 'Dans le même panier' (All in One Basket), the artists collected a staggering 300 kilos of discarded fruit, which they gave to the famous Parisian chef-pâtissier Stohrer, who set up an open-air kitchen and offered free taster delicacies to passers-by. The exhibition in the adjacent Galerie Saint Eustache and buffet of waste food provided a spontaneous civic forum to provoke discussions and bring attention to broader issues around food production, distribution and waste.