A silly title for this blog indeed. Why the Tolkien reference? The Hobbit is a Journey, and I cannot describe my research path as anything else, as where I started was very different than where I ended up. I am myself Hobbitish. I am not tall, contain much more extra padding than needed, love things that are green and growing, and most importantly have a love for food which is where the research ended up.
It all started last year at this time In Lara Campbell’s Sex, Gender, and the 1960’s class. We were tasked to write a research essay utilizing primary and secondary sources. I thought I would go straight to counterculture for my topic as it is a longstanding interest of mine, particularly where music from that era is concerned. However, as I had already done extensive investigations of the counterculture I got to thinking about delving further into the Fluxus movement instead. My brief definition of Fluxus from a previous paper is that “Fluxus is an international and interdisciplinary collective of artists, musicians, and philosophers that aimed to dissolve the boundaries between art and life and promote the upheaval of oppressive sociopolitical systems through their philosophy and art practices.”  I had done some exploration of Fluxus during my undergrad, partly because it underlined the philosophy of many professors teaching in the Visual Arts program but was one of those things that just clicked with me right away. It’s interesting when you come across something that helps illuminate a perspective or something you’d been doing all along but not aware of wholly until you found it. As my life experiences build and through the research I’ve been doing the more I understand Fluxus and the more seems to click with me as a philosophy. I decided to return to Fluxus for this paper to look at it with a feminist lens and to see where it fit in with the rest of the sixties. I was quite surprised to learn when doing my research how many women participated in Fluxus, and that they did so on equal footing as men. “Fluxus created an equal playing field across race, gender, and culture, which created conditions for women to thrive within it. Some of the members challenged the engendered power structures in North American society both overtly and subtly. This situates Fluxus as an art as well as philosophical movement that was additionally a catalyst for, and innovator of feminist philosophy and practice.”
After presenting this paper at the Westcoast symposium In Tacoma, WA last summer and having received very positive and encouraging feedback from others attending and given my continuing interest in the subject I set out to continue delving into this topic for my MA project. I struggled to find a focus to delve in with further and eventually with some guidance from Lara Campbell and Helen Leung decided to focus on three works of women Fluxus artists and their use of food as a medium or theme within the works. I would infuse research ideas from Fluxus sources as well as food studies, and feminist food theory and make a piece of my own as a reaction to that research. One piece still resonates with me very strongly, Alison Knowles’ event score Make a Salad  . Event scores are directions for an artistic performance that are read like a score of music so that they can be performed repeatedly, by anyone, anywhere. Her directions are simply to “make a salad”, the brilliance of her focusing in on food preparation as a banal everyday life activity and turning it into a performance opened up so many conceptual possibilities exploring a variety of meaning that food represents to humanity. Knowles perfectly uncovers the Fluxus directive to equate life and art as synonymous in the simple activity making of a salad, and that “whenever you eat a salad you are performing the piece.”. This piece is very interactive as it can include audience participation which happens in the preparing and/or eating of the salad. Knowles acknowledges that there are always going to be different connotations to the piece depending on the time and setting of its performance, this is built into the nature of Fluxus work. Inspired by the work of Knowles and her focus on Food in many of her pieces I dove into an interdisciplinary array of food studies research which led me down a completely new rabbit hole.
This change in focus was not just directed by the research, my chaotic life situation which had been in effect since the start of my project continued to increase. All throughout I kept waiting, expecting for it to subside or take a break it didn’t happen (it is now in extreme mode.) I regretfully made the decision to complete my studies with a course-based option instead of continuing to peruse the MA project. I proposed a directed studies course that focused more on exploring the food studies side of the research I had started. I would blog/journal periodically throughout the course detailing my artistic reactions to the readings and at the end would create a paper or project tying them all together. The chaos limited my time which was seeming to pass by at erratic rates, mostly quicker than I could keep up with. It was physically and emotionally exhausting, and slowly attacking my creative drive necessary to put into artistic exploration and discovery and leaving me feeling completely overwhelmed and unable to cope with everything. I read slowly but intently and with an equally slow pace I started gravitating to writing as my main medium for artistic reflections and reactions as I could do it quietly on my laptop at home and in other spaces, and it was more suited to my mood, energy levels. The connections between food and memory became very apparent at the beginning of January and looking back over the posts most of them look back to memories of my family, and the process of building my personal identity growing up which is quite fitting considering my life’s current events.
Throughout the semester I read a lot about food and its connections to memory, history, feminism, politics, economy, philosophy and honestly just about everything you can think of. I have come to think of Food Studies as a perfect way to look at interdisciplinary Humanities as it is a part of every human’s daily life, and the food people have (or don’t have) access to, and their choices are very revealing about the culture and times that they live in. Today in what Zygmunt Bauman refers to as liquid modernity, the effects of the capitalist model on food production have transformed the content, contexts, and purpose of food so much that some of what people ingest (including myself) is far away from being recognized as food. It is now Potatoe/potaato… processed potato like edible substance. At his point in the capitalist stage, humans are so separated now from our ability to make as a whole, and the respect for the knowledge of making things is only valuable if it can bring in the big bucks. To make something, to cook or grow your own food from scratch, for example, can be seen as a politicized act of protest and defiance. For me, the process of learning through making; figuring out the steps, making mistakes, experimenting, and figuring out the essence of a thing through the making is something that drives me. The generosity and nurturing that is inherent in making and sharing food is not necessarily a given in when making other things, but it has been inherent in the nature of cooking and eating for all of human history as far as I can discern. This is missing from packaged processed food as it’s the only purpose is to generate profit, often at the expense of our environment and our health. We eat animals that are no longer killed in a natural ‘web of life’ relationship (as are vegetable foods), they are cruelly bred, manipulated with drugs and foods, kept in prisons, and slaughtered in the assembly line model of production. Some of our farming practices rely on monocropping and pesticides which have negative environmental consequences. We ingest this lack of caring and generosity, (and brutality) and forgive the cliché but if we are what we eat then what does this kind of food mean not just for health but for the human soul? This becomes more complicated because the foods that I choose have a complex relationship with my social surroundings, personal and cultural identity. I am a hypocrite as I eat packaged foods that I know are bad for me, I eat some animal products. Sometimes I want making a salad to just be making a salad (in an everyday sense it both is and isn’t that) and sometimes I want salad to be nachos and beer but my waistline says otherwise, lol.
Ok enough about how we are all doomed, back to the point that Food Studies represents a perfect way to look at interdisciplinary humanities as food can tell us about who we are, where we are, and when we are. In my reflections for the blog posts I have used cooking reflections to accompany readings as a form of embodied knowledge. Both the writing and the cooking have been engaging, skill building, and therapeutic processes. I think I will continue doing more of them with the loose goal of maybe writing a cookbook interwoven with personal narrative in the future.
So where am I now? It’s the end. I’m scrambling to complete everything yet I’ve finally got a good momentum going starting to feel good about it all. Up until now I have been feeling for the past year that I had totally failed in my purpose, goals, and capability to finish this program. Part of this is because I made the decision to graduate with course options instead of a project. I was inspired, focused, and ambitious throughout the whole program and was looking forward to getting into a project, however my life became complete chaos with work, and an ill family member shortly after enrolling in my MA project option. In order to secure a future work opportunity that might present itself taking a break was not an option as I needed to graduate this year. I found it very difficult to find time to focus, and my attention became scattered and wavered all over the place to many different ideas. I kept reading more and more which seemed to solidify my ideas less and less leaving me feeling directionless, and unfocused. Giving up the project option was a realistic decision, and I know the right one given my responsibility overload and weighing my choices for the future, but I can’t help but feel that I failed myself and the professors who have supported me by not going through with it. I am trying not to feel this way, but it is hard to overcome a lifetime habit of being critical of oneself. As I’ve been writing this post about the research journey I’ve been I’m starting to realize that I actually put much more work into things that I thought, and that my chaotic research though not a straight path has started to culminate and pull together my overall life interests in a way that I didn’t expect. Academia requires focused, specific direction for writing and research. I’ve proved to myself that I am capable of doing that through this program, however I’m recognizing now that my own workflow and process for writing and research is much like my artwork, highly exploratory but will get somewhere in the end. It starts out as one thing but evolves into something completely different. I have always been committed to working ‘in the moment’, and letting the process lead the direction in all my creative pursuits; art making, cooking, music, and now I realize that my style of research and writing, though perhaps un-academic, works very much the same way. There are many artists, and whole art movements dedicated to working in this way. One of many examples is Poet Charles Olson’s method of Projective Verse, where “the form is never more than an extension of content” Because of this realization I’m starting to feel that I did contribute something worthwhile after all and can leave feeling like I truly gave my best to the program, even given my chaotic circumstances the past year. I am sad to leave the program, the comradery with my classmates, and the inspirational and challenging exchange of ideas in the classroom but I am leaving richer, and better prepared to continue exploring future creative projects and endeavors.
Below I have included a full bibliography below of everything I have specifically read for this project (or that leaked its way into it from another course) since the start of the Sex and gender in the 1960’s paper for my coursework last year till now.
 I Need to give a special mention to Bill Law, a professor who inspired and engaged me deeply, introduced me to Fluxus, and has given me support and guidance in many ways over the years
 Hendricks et. al
 Video Documentation of most recent performance of Make a Salad, 1962 in 2008 for the Tate Modern
 I am realizing as I write this that I need to perform this event score as a fitting summative activity to bring things full circle
 Bauman- as opposed to solid states of early capitalism
 I am currently drinking a soda for caffeinating purposes from one of the evillest of all companies
 Olson, Projective Verse
Adams, Carol J. The Sexual Politics of Meat: A Feminist-Vegetarian Critical Theory. 20th anniversary ed, Continuum, 2010.
All Items | Fluxus Digital Collection. https://thestudio.uiowa.edu/fluxus/all. Accessed 26 Mar. 2017.
Baas, Jacquelynn, and Hood Museum of Art, editors. Fluxus and the Essential Questions of Life. Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College ; In association with the University of Chicago Press, 2011.
Bauman, Zygmunt. Liquid Modernity. Polity Press ; Blackwell, 2000.Bird,
Brad, Brad Lewis, Patton Oswalt, Lou Romano, Ian Holm, Brian Dennehy, Peter Sohn, et al. 2007. Ratatouille. Burbank, CA: Walt Disney Home Entertainment.
Bottinelli, Silvia, and Margherita d’Ayala Valva. The Taste of Art: Cooking, Food, and Counterculture in Contemporary Practices. University of Arkansas Press, 2017. Project MUSE, https://muse.jhu.edu/book/51750/.
—. The Taste of Art: Cooking, Food, and Counterculture in Contemporary Practices. University of Arkansas Press, 2017. Project MUSE, https://muse.jhu.edu/book/51750/.
Braunstein, Peter, and Michael William Doyle, editors. Imagine Nation: The American Counterculture of the 1960s and ’70s. Routledge, 2002.
Carrie Mae Weems : The Kitchen Table Series, 1990. http://carriemaeweems.net/galleries/kitchen-table.html. Accessed 24 Feb. 2018.
Edited by George Brecht and Fluxus Editorial Council. “Fluxus.” FLuxus, 1st ed., Jan. 1964, p. 4. SFU Special Collections, 01SFU_ALMA.
Fredrickson, Laurel. “Trap: Kate Millett, Japan, Fluxus and Feminism.” Women & Performance: A Journal of Feminist Theory, vol. 19, no. 3, Nov. 2009, pp. 337–67. Taylor and Francis+NEJM, doi:10.1080/07407700903399516.
Friedman, Ken. “Freedom? Nothingness? Time? Fluxus and the Laboratory of Ideas.” Theory, Culture & Society, vol. 29, no. 7–8, Dec. 2012, pp. 372–98. SAGE Journals, doi:10.1177/0263276412465440.
Galassi, Peter. Pleasures and Terrors of Domestic Comfort. Museum of Modern Art : Distributed by H.N. Abrams, 1991.
George Brecht, Fluxus Artist-Provocateur, Dies at 82 – The New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2008/12/15/arts/music/15brecht.html. Accessed 26 Mar. 2017.
George Brecht. Incidental Music. 1961 | MoMA. https://www.moma.org/collection/works/127305?locale=en. Accessed 26 Mar. 2017.
Harald Szeeman, and KFolnischer Kunstverein. Sohm. happening and fluxus. 1st Edition, Folnischer Kunstverein, 1970.
Hendricks, Jon, et al., editors. Fluxus Scores and Instructions: The Transformative Years ; ’Make a Salad.’ ; Selections from The Gilbert and Lila Silverman Fluxus Collection, Detroit ; [Accompanies the Exhibition at the Museum for Contemporary Art, Roskilde, Denmark, June 6 to September 21, 2008]. Gilbert and Lila Silverman Fluxus Collection, 2008.
Hicks, Stephen R. C. Explaining Postmodernism Skepticism and Socialism from Rousseau To Foucault. Scholargy Custom, 2004.
Higgins, Hannah. Fluxus Experience. University of California Press, 2002.
Hodgdon, Tim. Manhood in the Age of Aquarius: Masculinity in Two Countercultural Communities, 1965-83. Columbia University Press, 2008.
Holtzman, Jon D. “Food and Memory.” Annual Review of Anthropology 35 (2006): 361-78.
“Home Cooking”. Ugly Delicious, season 1, episode 3, 2018, Netflix Original, https://www.netflix.com
Iacovetta, Franca, et al., editors. Edible Histories, Cultural Politics: Towards a Canadian Food History. University of Toronto Press, 2012.
Inness, Sherrie A., editor. Cooking Lessons: The Politics of Gender and Food. Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2001.
Jenkins, Janet, et al., editors. In the Spirit of Fluxus. 1st ed, Walker Art Center, 1993.
Kawamura, Sally. “Appreciating the Incidental: Mieko Shiomi’s ‘Events.’” Women & Performance: A Journal of Feminist Theory, vol. 19, no. 3, Nov. 2009, pp. 311–36. Taylor and Francis+NEJM, doi:10.1080/07407700903399474.
Kellein, Thomas, and Jon Hendricks. Fluxus. Thames and Hudson, 1995.
Kennedy, Diana. My Mexico: A Culinary Odyssey with Recipes. Updated edition, University of Texas Press, 2013.
—. The Essential Cuisines of Mexico. 2009. Open WorldCat, http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&scope=site&db=nlebk&db=nlabk&AN=753704.
Kubitza, Anette. “Flux-Proof or ‘Sometimes No One Can Read Labels in the Dark’: Carolee Schneemann and the Fluxus Paradox.” Women & Performance: A Journal of Feminist Theory, vol. 19, no. 3, Nov. 2009, pp. 391–409. Taylor and Francis+NEJM, doi:10.1080/07407700903399557.
Lushetich, Natasha. Fluxus: The Practice of Non-Duality. Rodopi, 2014.
Malasauskas, Raimundas, et al., editors. Looking for Mr. Fluxus: In the Footsteps of George Maciunas; Fluxus Genetics, Skuta; [Art in Gerneral, October 9 – December 22, 2001]. Art in General, 2002.
Millett, Kate. Sexual Politics. University of Illinois Press, 2000.
—. The Basement: Meditations on a Human Sacrifice. Simon and Schuster, 1979.
MoMA.Org | Experimental Women in Flux. about:reader?url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.moma.org%2Finteractives%2Fexhibitions%2F2010%2Fwomeninflux%2F. Accessed 26 Mar. 2017.
Morais, Betsy. “Salad As Performance Art.” The New Yorker, Apr. 2012. www.newyorker.com, https://www.newyorker.com/culture/culture-desk/salad-as-performance-art.
O’Dell, Kathy. “Fluxus Feminus.” TDR (1988-), vol. 41, no. 1, 1997, pp. 43–60. JSTOR, doi:10.2307/1146571.
Olson, Charles. “Projective Verse.” Poetry Foundation, 25 Mar. 2017, https://www.poetryfoundation.org/resources/learning/essays/detail/69406.
Ono, Yoko. Grapefruit. Reprint. Museum of Modern Art, 2015.
“Original Exhibition Essay.” WOMANHOUSE, http://www.womanhouse.net/statement/. Accessed 24 Feb. 2018.
Perl, Jed, editor. Art in America, 1945-1970: Writings from the Age of Abstract Expressionism, Pop Art and Minimalism. Library of America ; Distributed to the trade in the United States by Penguin Random House Inc, 2014.
Phillpot, Clive, and Jon Hendricks. Fluxus: Selections from the Gilbert and Lila Silverman Collection. Museum of Modern Art, 1988.
Pollan, Micheal. Cooked: A Natural History of Transformation. The Penguin Press, 2013.
Proust, Marcel, et al. Swann’s Way. 1st American ed, Viking, 2003.
Reckitt, Helena, and Peggy Phelan, editors. Art and Feminism. Abridged, Revised, And updated, Phaidon, 2012.
Reporter, Devra First-. “What David Chang’s ‘Ugly Delicious’ Says about Food Culture Today – The Boston Globe.” BostonGlobe.Com, https://www.bostonglobe.com/lifestyle/food-dining/2018/03/19/what-david-chang-ugly-delicious-says-about-food-culture-today/aKXQgrGSg5Jr9DF4k5qZbO/story.html. Accessed 21 Mar. 2018.
Rhee, Jieun. “Performing the Other: Yoko Ono’s Cut Piece.” Art History, vol. 28, no. 1, Feb. 2005, pp. 96–118. Wiley Online Library, doi:10.1111/j.0141-6790.2005.00455.x.
Shigeko Kubota | MoMA. https://www.moma.org/artists/3277?locale=en. Accessed 26 Mar. 2017.
Stur, Heather Marie. Beyond Combat: Women and Gender in the Vietnam War Era. Cambridge University Press, 2011.
Tate. Alison Knowles – Make a Salad | TateShots. YouTube, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lmqvnIXnmyM. Accessed 21 Apr. 2018.
Terpenkas, Andrea. “Fluxus, Feminism, and the 1960’s.” Western Tributaries, vol. 4, no. 0, Dec. 2017. journals.sfu.ca, http://journals.sfu.ca/wt/index.php/westerntributaries/article/view/42.
The Digger Archives Home Page. http://www.diggers.org/. Accessed 10 Apr. 2017.
“The Liberation of Aunt Jemima.” The Berkeley Revolution, 4 Mar. 1972, http://revolution.berkeley.edu/liberation-aunt-jemima/.
Thelin, Emily Kaiser. Unforgettable: The Bold Flavors of Paula Wolfert’s Renegade Life. Grand Central Life & Style, 2017.
White, Kenneth. “Carolee Schneemann.” Millennium Film Journal, no. 54, Fall 2011, pp. 22–29.
Williams, Emmett, and Ann Noël. A Flexible History of Fluxus Facts and Fictions. Edition Hansjörg Mayer ; Distributed in the United States and Canada by Thames & Hudson, 2006.
“Womanhouse 1972.” WOMANHOUSE, http://www.womanhouse.net/. Accessed 24 Feb. 2018.
Yoshimoto, Midori. “Women & Fluxus: Toward a Feminist Archive of Fluxus.” Women & Performance: A Journal of Feminist Theory, vol. 19, no. 3, Nov. 2009, pp. 287–93. CrossRef, doi:10.1080/07407700903399300.
Yoshimoto, Moderated by Midori, et al. “An Evening with Fluxus Women: A Roundtable Discussion.” Women & Performance: A Journal of Feminist Theory, vol. 19, no. 3, Nov. 2009, pp. 369–89. Taylor and Francis+NEJM, doi:10.1080/07407700903399524.