Future Topophagies

Here are some images from a workshop I co-organized with Valentine Cadieux and Steve Dietz through the University of Minnesota and Northern Lights in Minneapolis, MN at the end of September 2014. The workshop was staged in conjunction with the show thinking making living at the Nash Gallery at the U of MN. We couldn’t have run this without the generous coordination of Christine Baeumler. And I’d have been helpless without Valentine Cadieux. It was  an exciting, fast, and very productive process. I *think* everyone had a good time and got a lot out of the experience.

We drew from a set of seven constraints, imagined future picnics based on those constraints, and at the end of day two, prototyped the food and packaging we’d use if we were to make such a public event. I will be writing up the scenarios shortly.

While these participants came from art, social science, history, ecocriticism, architecture, biology, climatology, and politics, I think you could run this workshop with a wide variety of people and publics, and turn up relevant, and resonant results.

Participants:  Stephen Sebestyen, Laura Bigger, Teréz Iacovino, Matthew Tucker, Sarah Peters, Cam Gordon, Tracey Deutsch, Karen Moss, Sandra Teitge, Aaron Dysart, Andrea Steudel, Molly Balcom Raleigh, Christine Baeumler, Kenny Blumenfeld,  Shanai Matteson, Sarah Nassif, Molly Reichert, Ryan Seibold, Bunmi Odumuye, Emily Stover, interns Andrea, Marie, and Della, and Janaki Ranpura (in spirit and email)

Images: M Zurkow, V Cadieux and Sarah Nassif.
More images by Laura Bigger here.

Future Topophagies Workshop 092014

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Not an Artichoke, Nor From Jerusalem

"Haud Nomine Tantum" (Not in Name Alone). A new seal for NYC Edibles. Marina Zurkow (2012)


What is local? As a challenge to currently marketed notions of ‘sustainable,” “green” and “locavore,” Michael Connor, Alex Freedman and I conceived of and created  a formal “explorer’s club” style dinner for 25 at the Artist’s Institute in New York on Jan 16th 2012. “Not an Artichoke, Nor from Jerusalem” was a dinner that rendered the local exotic, and the exotic all too local.

Click here for documentation, menu, and project description:



Local Heroes

Foraging in Marine Park in early December


I am co-conceiving a dinner that takes a new look at the “local” (info in next post) with Michael Connor and Alex Freedman at The Artist’s Institute (Anthony Huberman/Hunter College space in the LES) on Monday Jan 16. A lot of amazing people were involved –

– Environmental artist Oliver Kellhammer helped us forage at Marine Park, thanks to good tips from Wildman Steve Brill

– Andrew Nundel, a forager in Gloucester MA , whom I met through the Forage Ahead Yahoo Group generously donated his stash of frozen Japanese knotweed

– The chefs Lauryn and Albert from Lucullan Foods are fabulous and exciting to be around, they know so much are are truly adventurers

– and Bun Lai, the owner and genius behind New Haven’s Miya’s Sushi, whom I found through this  GOOD article:  “When Life Gives You Invasive Species, Make Sushi”  that  10 different people sent me. Bun Lai is a gustatory superhero.
Here’s the text he sent Michael today:

I just finished foraging.  I caught roughly fifty Asian shore crabs, thirty wild oysters and a bunch of wild rock seaweed.   I also made you all five bottles of sake from fresh pine needles.  Native Americans used to eat the inner cambrium of pine during winter months when scurvy would be a problem because pine contains a lot of vitamin c.

Check out Bun Lai’s blog