Judit Szalipszki

Not another Futurist Dinner!

Neo-Futurist Dinners is a new programme line at Mediamatic, in which the world of food, art and science are brought together. During these gastronomical experiences, you will be engulfed in a multi-sensory dinner scene, being served food in all colours and shapes in the most unexpected ways.

But, please be aware: we are not another art institution painstakingly picking realizable recipes from the Futurist Cookbook. So what do we share with the Futurists then? Their misogynism, machoism and ardent nationalism definitely not. Their interest in multisensory experiences? Definitely yes! The Neo-Futurist Dinners are coming into being. Be ready for the triggering of your whole sensory sphere.

 

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Interior Taverna del Santo Palate, in Turin, in Vanchiglia 2 - With (from left) the Bulgarian architect Nicolaj Diulgheroff, who rebuilt the place, the poet Filippo Tommaso Marinetti and the painter Fillia, alias Louis Columbus

While the Futurists fought pasta (being dependent on wheat import was not in line with their nationalistic worldview), we are rejecting meat consumption not because of political reasons, but because of ecological ones: we aim to stay true to the vegan spirit of MediamaticETEN as meat is one of the least future-friendly aliments of our times. (Though we also refrain from dogmatism and if there is a good reason, or a good mood, we don’t say no to some fish or oysters.) We share the disappointment of Futurists over the passeist culinary establishment and we are ready to challenge it with wonderful new creatures, flavours and devices. As much as they made a joke out of the genre of the cookbook, we are playing around with their approaches.

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The Santopalato, Turin -

You might think we want to get you back to when Futurism was a thing! Actually not - we agree with Marinetti that we are not aiming to look into the past. They, themselves would probably be uncomfortable with being historicized. In fact, we stay true to the Futurist spirit by staying away from recreating their gustatory extravaganzas and instead of naphtalene-scented (or, Cologne-perfumed) nostalgia we opt for looking forward to the glorious future of food. After all, recreating something that happened almost a hundred years ago is mission impossible and domesticating lunatic recipes for wealthy circles of VIP friends of museums has no point either. (By the way, some of the dishes in the Futurist Cookbook were never intended to be eaten but only to provoke.)

"We want to fight ferociously against the fanatical, unconscious and snobbish religion of the past, which is nourished by the evil influence of museums. We rebel against the supine admiration of old canvases, old statues and old objects, and against the enthusiasm for all that is worm-eaten, dirty and corroded by time; we believe that the common contempt for everything young, new and palpitating with life is unjust and criminal." - Marinetti proclaimed and he couldn’t have said it better.

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Marinetti introduces his Manifesto for Futurist Cuisine in Turin newspaper La Gazzetta del Popolo – May 1930 -

But don’t worry - we might keep the fun parts of Futurism as a point of reference. You can expect to eat, smell, hear, touch, see, taste and feel quirky sensations. Surprises on the plate, the brain and the nerve endings.

You might wonder what kinds of gustatory reenactments have been flourishing in the past few years. So we thought we give you a hint about these in our small collection of initiatives recreating Futurist eating experiences in the past few years!

As Italy was home to the Futurists, obviously it is there where most of the reenactments happen. For example at Taverna dei Futuristi you can get a tasting menu with the famous Polibibitas and a Dynamic pig dish as well. The décor of the tavern serves to fly you back to the 1930’s too as it is “dedicated to the art and design of the Italian Futurists from floor to ceiling, replete with posters, furnishings, and a bolted-book style menu in the manner of Fortunato Depero”. 

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little shaped and personalized toasts perched atop a risotto at Taverna dei Futuristi in Rome - source: http://www.italianfuturism.org/futurist-cuisine-in-rome/

Futurist dinners are also oftentimes the highlights of exhibitions curated around Futurism and of art festivals. The event entitled the Tactile Dinner Car presented as a part of the 2011 Capital Fringe Festival, a program of the Washington, DC non-profit Capital Fringe for instance aimed for no less than “to mobilize the pseudo-edible Futuristic fusion of cuisine and theatre”. At this dinner, that was, besides the Futurists, inspired by Buckminster Fuller’s Dymaxion Car, the guests could enjoy dishes like the Libyan aeroplane, the sushi injecture, prelabial exercise and devil in black key - some of them “prepared from the Original Futurist Recipe”. The Russian Revels took a Russian twist on the Futurist ideas. Good to know that guests of Futurist dinners should not be surprised if they are asked to switch to pajamas as visitors of the exhibition “Italian Futurism, 1909-1944: Reconstructing the Universe” also had to if they wanted to experience Futurist formulas. Though institutions need to handle the pressure of guests paying sometimes hundreds of dollars for a meal expecting to leave with a full belly and content minds, depending/leaning on a cookbook parody is no easy task. The impossible quest of staying authentic to inedible recipes and slightly diverting them to make them edible is an effortful but not necessarily fruitful process. Is avoiding the most bizarre and shocking antipasti and bibite really the way to go? (We don’t think so - why not put the experience and the menu in the hands of artists and designers who have their own original ideas and a contemporary understanding of the food and its cultural connotations? That might as well pull you out of your comfort zones.)

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One of the courses served as part of ANTI-PASTA, an Italian Futurist dinner hosted at the Guggenheim - Emma Goldberg

The most progressive and amusing thing about Futurist cuisine is their devotion to the senses. So for this reason, Futurist dinners also put a special emphasis on tactility (did you know Marinetti also published The Manifesto of Tactilism?), on smell and on aural accompaniments. The Futurist dinner party with aural accompaniment in Brooklyn therefore surprised the guests with some sonic experiments entitled “geological creep” and “barebutt toyota” while pasta was dripping from the ceiling (but not eaten).

San Francisco's Museum of Modern Art organized a centennial hommage to the movement entitled Metal + Machine + Manifesto = Futurism’s First 100 Years and probably the most memorable moment of festivities was the dinner by OPENrestaurant founders Sam White, Stacie Pierce and Jerome Waag. With the contribution of local chefs and designers they also tried to adapt the more radical recipes from the infamous cookbook. To get a slight idea what the guests were exposed to, read how the Sarah Rich of Civil Eats recalled the experience: "Our senses were instead stimulated by the amplified recitations of an Italian poet performing over a loudspeaker, recordings of mooing cows on their way to slaughter, giant wall-projected video clips of old Italian road bike races (and crashes), and of course the tastes of numerous foods, each rich with symbolism: Small early girl tomatoes stuffed with halibut ceviche referenced the infamous genetic engineering experiment that spliced the DNA of a tomato and a flounder; fried corn tortillas shaped into cones and filled with ground beef represented the corn-fed cows of industrial meat production; gelatinized beet juice molded into the shape of a heart and studded with goat cheese signaled a beating heart."

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Futurist Dinner at SFMOMA by OPENrestaurant - Sasha Wizansky

So after all these former reenactments of Futurist banquets, you may ponder what to expect during an edition of a Neo-Futurist Dinner? We’ll see.

But what is for sure:

We plan to customize the dining experiences and the tools, sounds, technologies and surroundings as one holistic entity rather than offering diners random gimmicks.

We may or may not raise awareness about pressing ecological issues.

We may or may not come up with a solution for problems regarding food.

You may or may not reconsider/reassess your position towards food and the rituals around it.

We may or we may not change the lights for every dish.

We may or may not tailor music to the flavours.

Instead of fast, we may or may not go slow.

You may or may not be asked to scratch strange surfaces.

We may or may not interact with artificial intelligence.

Your nerves might or might not be triggered by whispering.

Pasta may or may not be included (drinks are!).

 

A Neo-Futurist dinner may or may not be speculative.

A Neo-Futurist dinner may or may not be bizarre.

A Neo-Futurist dinner may or may not be scandalous.

A Neo-Futurist dinner may or may not be utopistic.

A Neo-Futurist dinner may or may not be dystopic.

A Neo-Futurist dinner may or may not be optimistic.

A Neo-Futurist dinner may or may not be pessimistic.

A Neo-Futurist dinner may or may not be minimalistic, theatrical, playful and provocative.

 

We are vehemently hopeful about the future and we want you to be as well.

Stay tuned! Neo-Futurism is now.

 

More Futurism-inspired dinners:

A Futurism-inspired party in Moscow, Russia:

https://www.facebook.com/untitledhub/videos/1893718497516979/

This is how the British Library in London served classic Futurist dishes:

http://www.chinapost.com.tw/life/discover/2008/04/08/150934/p1/library-recreates.htm

Futurist cooking at home:

https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/cooking-futurist-recipes-invented-by-marinetti-876

If you would like to surprise your friends with an evening of Futurist dining experience, check out this short video explaining the fundamentals of Futurist cooking ideology:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VivVf_x3p28