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'Credit Crunch Meals': Edible Art Takes on the Economy

Credit Crunch Meals examine the global economy through food and community.

Since 2008, I have created special "Credit Crunch Meals," inspired by the obscene combination of unregulated financial markets, high finance, and politics. The so-called Credit Crunch Crisis is a perpetual crisis we seem unable to escape. The Credit Crunch epoque started in 2007 with an early climax in the bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers that nearly collapsed the world financial system. The effects of this crisis haven't gone away.

Today in 2013, Greece, Portugal, Ireland, Spain and Italy run the risk of national debt default, i.e. of bankruptcy. The Housing Crisis and the high unemployment numbers in the U.S. and elsewhere are also a precarious situation that doesn't seem to dissipate and is dragging down any real recovery.

I often use genitals in my work as symbols of power and they might also imply very easily the opposite: post-climactic fatigue, impotence, and the constant promiscuous shift of power and influence. Combined with political and economic terminology, they have an immediate impact in the beholder that is even stronger when made out of perishable material like food.

The hidden unmentionable undertone of this current perpetual crisis is that we experience a massive shift of economic and political power from West to East, from the U.S. and Europe to China, India and other emerging economies with plenty of cash and important raw materials. This is a process that started with the end of the Cold War and gets only highlighted with this ongoing economic crisis. (For example China controls 96 percent of Rare Earth—crucial for all intelligent products).

Each installation of "Credit Crunch Crisis" is different and depends on the funding, the possibility of intervention and the exhibition frame work. In most cases I am allowed to offer simple food: i.e. a credit crunch meal that doesn’t have to taste bad. In the majority of cases we either use the food left over or make just lentils. Lentils are eaten in Italy at the end of the year in the hope that money will come in the new year. So far, I have hosted them in New York, Sweden, Vienna, Brussels, Stuttgart, Friedrichshafen, Moscow and Greece.

Rainer Ganahl is a New York based artist working in many possible and impossible media. Images are from "Credit Crunch Meal" during Performa 11.

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