Chicken Rice in the Border
2014 Installation with drawings, artist book, handmade ceramic plates, single-channel video, photographs and food Installation dimensions variable Collection of the Artist
The sense of taste is one almost universally associated with pleasure and worldly indulgence. It is thus easy to forget that taste is also a highly cultivated and culturally contingent sense. With relentless migration over generations, cultures evolve, and with it, our foods and tastes develop and are cultivated afresh, slowly but surely. Indeed, food and taste have as much a colourful and integral relationship with history, heritage and identity, as language and ethnicity do.
In this work, Bui Cong Khanh investigates the provenance of Hoi An Chicken Rice, originally brought to Hoi An by Chinese immigrants as Hainanese Chicken Rice, before adaptation and assimilation into Vietnamese food culture resulted in a uniquely local dish. Khanh – whose family comes from Hoi An, the province with the largest Chinese community in Vietnam – documents and illustrates the evolution of this singular dish with an interactive installation, which includes an actual food-tasting component at the Food for Thought café.*
The artist chose the title phrase “in the border” because for him, the border is an active site – a place where multiple tensions and expressions co-exist and mingle, and generate new meanings – and his hometown of Hoi An can be considered such a place. By exploring a much- beloved dish whose variations can taste at once familiar and foreign, Khanh engages with the cultural and historical memory, as well as the legacy, that resides deep within our taste buds and tongue. (RN)
Dr. Rhee’s Kimtschi Shop is a complex multidisciplinary project that functioned as a temporary service, providing a cultural exchange between the artist and visitors to the exhibition. The artist’s position as an ethnic Korean, not only as a foreigner to Germany, but also as a transnational American was used as an effective method to complicate the notion of authenticity. The role of Korean-German Hanjo Rhee, as the rational German scientist, reinforced this idea of identity as multi-layered and fluid.
As an interactive performance artwork, it underscored the usage of ethnic food as an amusing and productive means to talk about the contentious foreigner “problem” in Germany, while using bartering as a strategy to compare and problematize the consumption and dispersion of authentic culture and national identity. The project opened as a temporary pop-up shop for one week in November of 2011 in the project space of Das Gift.
Chicken Himmel is a existential experimental music Korean food cooking video which humorously investigates birth, death, and love. It is a collaborative work by the Korean Studies Department, a loose collective of artists, musicians, writers, dancers, filmmakers and theater designers: Daniel Glatzel, kate hers RHEE, Jung-sun Kim, Oliver Kölle, Lee Soo-eun and Hyo-Jin Shin.
The song, Bite Me (Love Song to Friedrich Nietzsche), was written and performed by Kegels for Hegel. Bite Me is a satirical love song written from the perspective of a chicken about to be eaten. Bite Me plays with themes of odaxelagnia and interspecies love in order to speak to philosophical debates about domination and the line between humans and animals.
The Korean Studies Department presents Kegels for Hegel’s Bite me in Chicken Himmel, ©2013 estherka single channel video, 6 min. 36 sec.