Wednesday 14 August 2019

Exhibition: Food: Bigger than the Plate

Food is an essential thread in human society, touching on everything from culture and design to politics and science. The V&A's current "Food: Bigger than the Plate" exhibition looks to the history and products of design to draw our attention to these connections, and in particular to question the ones we take for granted.

It starts off boldly with a section on waste in all of its taboo-challenging senses, looking at how the technology and social norms around sanitation have shaped and entrenched each other, replacing - but later being challenged by - more sustainable, closed-loop approaches. This eyebrow-raising material jostles with technological approaches to reuse such as waste-derived plastics and whimsical artistic projects, like a conceptual restaurant built around the micro- and macro-organisms that quietly feed on people.

A similarly balanced meal appears in each of the sections on farming, trade, packaging and ultimately cooking and eating, meaning there's something to be enjoyed here whether you're looking for ways to challenge the agribusiness hegemony or just want to have a bit of fun with unconventional table settings. The way we engage with food is so fundamental that even acknowledging our norms and conventions can seem transgressive - just look at how people react to veganism - but viewing at them from a distance in this playful, thoughtful way makes these big ideas very accessible.

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