Fare Trade approaches contemporary performance art through the act of preparing and sharing food. Taylor Harder and Teresa Tam each navigate identity through their own connections to traditional knowledge of food, each prompting viewers to become participants through the shared human necessity of nourishment. Contextualized within a fundraising event, this project confronts issues of monetary exchange in relation to food, as well as art, in contemporary, neoliberal society. The temporal nature of art, specifically performance art, is illustrated through the impermanence and transience of foodstuffs, and our corporeal relation to it.
Through a series of interactive and participatory happenings and workshops, the artists draw from their own distinct lineages in order to create new traditions in response to their current realities. Working with edible materials, Taylor and Teresa each offer participants the opportunity to learn, share and to question their own habits of consumption. In Mother's Preserves, Taylor shares their research reflecting upon the traditional uses of native plants of Western Canada and their medicinal properties. Through the holistic act of learning about these various plants, the act of sourcing and harvesting from the land, the crafting of edible preserves, and the sharing of these creations, Taylor seeks to channel both healing and connection, as well as to build a sense of community with other participants. Teresa’s project, 2 cents cart, prompts participants to share their personal opinions in exchange for home-made snacks. Teresa’s proposition creates a space for the thoughts and opinions of random strangers to not only be heard, but to be valued both metaphorically as well as literally - as a form of currency. In exchange for this tidbit of information about ourselves, we are offered a piece of Tam’s identity in the form of refreshment.
Food has long been a medium for art making, but the way food is traded, marketed, and consumed has never been so contentious. In response, capitalism has created waves of confusing to navigate, conscientious food trends that cannot be elaborated on here. While globally, our relationship with food is skewed, food can still be a crucial tool for staying or becoming connected with where we came from. A shared meal can become a vehicle for meaningful connection and learning, and having knowledge about which foods can help us and heal us can be extraordinarily empowering. Within the Teresa and Taylor’s work, the transactional nature of food is acknowledged and subverted, and food is used as a symbol for our fleeting relationship with art through each artist’s unique perspective.
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Signy Holm holds a Bachelors of Fine Arts with Distinction from the Alberta University of the Arts where she focused primarily on installation, performance and new media work. She is currently pursuing a career in arts administration and curatorial work while also dedicating time to her studio practice. Holm lives and works in Calgary, AB.