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Good Enough to Eat

Guest Contributor
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Tasha Marks, food historian and founder of AVM Curiosities talks about subverting traditional art forms and challenging our preconceptions of food.

Tasha's inspiration. Photo by Joseph Fox

I'm one of those people who lives to eat. I come from a large Jewish family, so gatherings always focus on food and eating is a very social experience.

The juxtaposition of art and food is a hugely exciting subject to me as they complement and clash. That's why during the last year of my degree, my interests became the early modern museum and the history of dessert as spectacle – a concept that desserts were founded as far back as the medieval era, where it was consumed in the 'ceremony of the void' whilst the central room was cleared after dinner.

The fantastical nature of food is something that's at the heart of AVM Curiosities, with projects ranging from museum-style exhibitions and sculptural installations to interactive lectures and limited-edition confectionery.

I wanted to change the way we perceive food by presenting it as edible art; to challenge what we think about art by presenting it as food. These two influences mingle in my work in a way that's both silly and cerebral in equal measure.

I've always been fascinated by the possibility of taking an established art form such as print-making and subverting it. I like the contradiction of the edible prints we create – on the one hand they're an exclusive etching, yet they're also ephemeral and will eventually disappear. They're historic, contemporary and transient all in one.

Edible Vanitas Case, in collaboration with the Curious Confectioner and Conjurer's Kitchen. Photo by Chelsea Bloxsome

The mixture of the nostalgic and sense of novelty that comes with using alternative ingredients in confectionery is important to me; they're powerful influences when mixed together. I'm also fascinated by how tastes change – something that our grandparents loved seems unappetizing today, Spam for example, or Angel Delight.

For me, food is an integral part of London life – the mingling of food and other art forms at the moment is particularly exciting. Take Ferran Adria's recent exhibition at Somerset House – that's food and culture intertwined.

For a treat, my favourite restaurant would be Dinner by Heston Blumenthal at the Mandarin Oriental. The meat fruit is fantastic and the pineapple furnace is a sight to behold. But the place I visit most regularly is Lantana in Fitzrovia – amazing for Sunday brunch and the best coffee in London.

Over autumn, I hosted a series of events at the V&A as part of the London Design Festival and supported by the Grey Goose Iconoclasts of Taste project. 'Food and Art Through the Ages' was a tour of the history of food as an artistic medium; from 13th century sugar sculpture all the way up to the 3D printed desserts of today.

Playing with your food' was a chance to learn more about the materiality of food in an interactive workshop that includes edible paint-by-numbers and Egyptian chocolate funeral cake. There's also a Selfridges' window to look out for – you'll have to keep an eye out for that.

Biblical Chocolate. Photo by Paul Singer

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