ROKEBY presents an exhibition in two parts of work by Raul Ortega Ayala from his ongoing food series.
Raul Ortega Ayala's practice and methodology is based on research into everyday yet somehow unfamiliar subjects such as food, gardening and office work. Assuming the role of âparticipant observer', the artist covertly immerses himself in these environments for extended periods of time. Through his personal explorations the artist produces extensive and wide-ranging work, which he refers to as souvenirs. These works are typically displayed alongside field notes - drawings, paintings, photographs and ephemeral material employed in the artists working process.
Raul Ortega Ayala's current ongoing immersion/research explores food as something more than physical sustenance. Courses in cookery and butchery in Mexico, London and New York have resulted in works that range from video, performance, text and installation.
Ortega Ayala investigates the symbolic, economic, social, and religious implications of food, alongside contemporary concerns such as consumption and excess. Included in the first exhibition Tomatina/Tim is an installation of two large-scale opposing projections in which the visceral and carnivalesque behaviour of Tomatina festival-goers in Spain is paired with an American professional competitive eater as he consumes 40 hotdogs in less than 10 minutes. Other works include a replica of Pieter Bruegel's biblical symbol of vanity and pride; made from fat and bones Tower of Babel, will slowly melt during the course of the exhibition.
Further work investigates the intrinsic significance of food in life's rituals and cycles and the correlation between eating, psychology and emotions. Obituary Menu's consists of a series of text-based works, which present the last meals of numerous people throughout the ages, whether or not they chose them themselves.
The second part of the exhibition is devoted to Melting Pot's a major installation and performance in which the artist carefully recreates a buffet that was served in Windows on the World, the famous restaurant on top of one of New York's Twin Towers. Ortega Ayala serves food to exhibition-goers on kitchenware that was potentially made from the recycled metal debris of the towers to investigate the paradoxical cycle of these remains. There will be performances throughout the exhibition after which the artist leaves the remains to slowly decompose. Illustrating a fiction based on documented facts, Melting Pots also includes found images, news clippings, maps, a postcard, souvenirs and a video alongside the pots, pans and serving dishes.
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