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Sensorial Nourishment

Embodiment and the Senses in Food and Fashion

Food Friction workshop 2019 with Judith ter Haar

By Daniëlle Bruggeman

Questioning Food. FOOD - RESEARCH - ART - DESIGN, the new issue of the APRIA Journal, inquires about the relationship between (research in) the arts and food. Following the Food Friction conference, organised by ArtEZ University of the Arts, Arnhem, in November 2018, ArtEZ professorships continue to investigate their curiosity about food matters here. This issue addresses the question of how art and design research can open up other foodscapes by offering alternative roads towards food, laying bare how food takes (its) place in the arts, and questioning our material, spatial and digital relationships with food.

While feeding our dressed bodies, we ‘fashion’—give meaning to—our nourished selves every day. We engage with food daily through embodied practices of eating, tasting and cooking. And we engage with fashion through everyday practices of dressing and wearing clothes. We buy aesthetically pleasing foods in the supermarket, and beautiful fashionable clothes in branded stores. We buy what looks nice, but do we know where the vegetable seeds or cotton were planted, and by whom? Did it exhaust farmland soils and affect local ecosystems? Do we know where the animals we consume lived and how they were treated? Were they injected with growth hormones? Did they have names or numbers? Do we know the makers of our clothes and their stories? And if we knew the answers to these questions, would we still want to nourish and dress our bodies with these foods and clothes?

Similar questions and frictions exist in the fields of food and fashion. As industries, as systems, and as socio-cultural phenomena inextricably related to contemporary (consumer) culture, both food and fashion are directly related to the body and the senses. As Otto von Busch demonstrates in his article ‘Fervent Pharmakon: Food, Fashion and the Haul,’ both food and fashion are closely tied to emotions and to our biosocial beings, offering ‘sweet tastes of aesthetics and sensory pleasure.’ He argues how quick consumption—in these industries of fast and mass production—has paradoxically led to unhealthy addictions (to food and/or social affirmation and self-esteem) and to hunger and emotional starvation. Cooking together or making clothes collectively could, as von Busch suggests, form more intimate and social bonds, as well as healthier relationships with food and fashion. This potential intimate relationship with and the current emotional detachment from the human beings, animals and material objects in food and fashion is also at the heart of the essay ‘Living-With and Dying-With’ by Hanka van der Voet and myself. This essay highlights the urgency of moving beyond current processes of de-humanisation and de-animalisation. In doing so, it argues for the importance of engaging with food and fashion in their radically material forms, as active and affective—living—matter that we sensorially engage with by also including the underprivileged senses. This is a way to move beyond the visual, which is so often privileged in the (symbolic) production of fashion.

Read the introductory article by Daniëlle Bruggeman, 'Sensorial Nourishment: Embodiment and the Senses in Food and Fashion'.

  • New Materialism
  • Alternative Systems
  • Human Values

DATE PUBLISHED October 9, 2020