GOMA Talks Harvest: Food Futures

HarvestInstallation viewTomás Saraceno Biospheres
Tomás Saraceno, Argentina b.1973 / Biosphere 02 2009 / PVC, rope, nylon monofilament, acrylic, Tillandsia plants, air pressure regulator system, hydration system / Purchased 2014 with funds from Tim Fairfax, AC, through the Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art Foundation / Collection: Queensland Art Gallery / © The artist

During ‘Harvest: Art, Film and Food’, GOMA Talks returns for an exploration of food, its production, consumption, symbolism, and role in contemporary life. Continuing the Gallery’s partnership with national broadcaster ABC Radio National (RN). GOMA Talks Harvest comprises three sessions: ‘Food futures’, hosted by Antony Funnell (Future Tense), ‘Food, art and life’ with Sarah Kanowski (Weekend Arts), and ‘Politics of food’ with Paul Barclay (Big Ideas). We asked Antony Funnell to provide an ‘entree’ into his topic… talking food futures, before 6.30pm Thursday 3 July.

Shirana Shahbazi (Artist) Iran/Switzerland b.1974 and Sirous Shaghaghi (Collaborating artist) Iran / Still life: Coconut and other things 2009 / Synthetic polymer paint on canvas / Gift of the artist through the Queensland Art Gallery Foundation 2010 / Collection: Queensland Art Gallery / © The artist

In twenty-first-century culture, food is everything. It fills the screens we watch and read. Restaurants now define the character and flavour of our cities in a manner once reserved for parks, architecture and bronze monuments. We are more alive to the artistry of fine cuisine than ever before. It is both our passion and our pastime. And yet, in this new millennium, we are arguably more removed from the realities of food production than at any time in human history. It’s one of the great paradoxes of modern life that we talk so much of food yet understand so little about it. But attitudes appear to be changing, and reconnecting paddock to plate is now a growing global movement.

British design expert Paul Bennett lectures on food security and the future of food. He talks about the need to reconnect with the ‘whole chain’, having said that ‘I actually think we’re starting to see evidence globally that people really are more interested and more concerned about where their food comes from’.1 For urban innovation consultant Jeb Brugmann, a dilemma facing future food production is about space. Brugmann proposes that increasing fuel and energy costs will eventually force producers to rethink their relationship to cities. Urban farming, he believes, will flourish as a result. For Brugmann, given the ecological stresses the planet is under, the only effective way of creating change is to build upward. ‘Verticality’, says Brugmann, ‘is one of the underlying natural resources that comes with building a city’.2

The future of food could be a very local one indeed; a future in which we return to a greater emphasis on regional cuisine, and where much of what we eat is grown in giant vertical farming towers. Certainly food for thought.

1  B Bennet, ‘Future food: urban agriculture’, Future Tense, ABC Radio National transcript, November 2010, viewed 28 February 2013, http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/futuretense/future-food-urban-agriculture/2975274#transcript
2  J Brugmann, ‘Future food: urban agriculture’, Future Tense, ABC Radio National transcript, November 2010, viewed 28 February 2013, http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/futuretense/future-food-urbanagriculture/2975274#transcript


Xu Zhen, China b.1977 / ShanghART Supermarket (Australia) (installation detail) 2007–08 / Mixed media installation (cash register, counter, shelves, refrigerator and multiple consumer product packages) / Purchased 2008. Queensland Art Gallery Foundation / Collection: Queensland Art Gallery / © The artist