Art Market Blog – Art Collection Update 2 (March 08)
One of the recent additions to the Art Market Blog art collection is a print titled “Bread Rock Recipe” by the American artist Tatfoo Tan. This work references the edible sculptural and participatory project that Tattfoo undertook in 2007 which involved the creation of a series of different edible sculptures that were made out of bread dough and shaped to look like scholar’s rocks. The term “scholar’s rock” is used to describe the spectacular naturally formed (river) rocks collected by the literati of China to display on their desks, the practice of which began over 1000 years ago as a way of acknowledging the concept of nature as artist and as medium for evoking contemplation of the universe. Each scholar’s rock was chosen according to it’s shape, texture and colour and often because of their resemblance to mountain landscapes, mountains, caves or figures which the ancient Chinese regarded as material embodiments of ying and yang energy. The most prized stones were those that had been sculptured naturally through the process of erosion or appear to have undergone this process even if the rock has been artistically manipulated by man.
Once cooked, Tattfoo’s bread sculptures were then put on a custom rosewood pedestal, as was the custom with scholar’s rocks, after which they were then presented to a group of people who were invited to break the sculptured bread and enjoy it with olive oil accompanied by saki. The entire event of the eating of the bread rocks was also documented on video and photographed as the performance component of the artwork. According to Tattfoo “The act of sharing food is part of the human basic nature of a social being. Sharing food includes conviviality, intimacy and building relationships. All these characteristics expose the human basic need for social interaction and network building. Bread Rock is more about participation/multiple authorship, inclusion/connection, ephemeral/temporary, chaos/process/unpredictable as opposed to control/perfection/predictable, and specific instead of universal. It is also about finding moments and points where people can connect to each other, which is non-collectible, experiential, and immaterial. Each participant is his or her own author of the art piece. Their actions and participation activate the artpiece. Each one is both the spectator and the performer.”
The “Bread Rock” print that I acquired from Tattfoo shows the recipe for the bread that Tattfoo used in her bread sculptures arranged in the shape of a scholar’s rock sitting on its rosewood base. I really love the way that Tattfoo has combined the ancient traditions of the “scholar’s rocks” with the modern artistic concepts and practices to create a cultural, social and aesthetic experience that evokes contemplation and reflection. Although the actual print is rather simple, the connotations and associations are complex and wide ranging which is what makes this work so special.
You can check out more of the very talented Tattfoo Tan’s work at http://www.tattfoo.com
Image 1: “Bread Rock Recipe” by Tattfoo Tan
Image 2: A traditional Chinese scholar’s rock
**Nicholas Forrest is an art market analyst, art critic and journalist based in Sydney, Australia. He is the founder of http://www.artmarketblog.com, writes the art column for the magazine Antiques and Collectibles for Pleasure and Profit and contributes to many other publications.