THE RECIPE PROJECT
Kirouac has come to describe my practice as one of ‘call and response’, meaning her daily life is inherently tied to the artistic dialects she speak, and each project is an autobiographical albeit elastic response to place, action or community. At this time,The Call is moving back to Winnipeg after seven years in the US, to live with my 86 yr. old mother. The Response? The Recipe Project” – A new body of work that will be the third body in a trilogy of watershed works around food that began in 2007 with Hybred and continued with Don’t Go Away in 2011.
She grew up in a French-Canadian family restaurant business in Winnipeg around professional chefs, yet she is the only family member not working for their business. However, she is unable to escape the metaphor of food as more than a nutritional means to an end, nor deny it as the primary filter in her upbringing. Cooking, donating and serving/eating is the language in which her family speaks. Deaths, births, casual to formal, celebrations and tragedies, are all ‘felt and communicated’ through the making and sharing of food, and the reverberations of this world have become a growing influence whether she wants it to be or not. The Recipe project specifically maps the pragmatics of “passage” and how we process death through rituals around the preparation and symbolism of one’s “last supper’’.
Having an aging parent is not unique, but the ability to bear witness to a woman’s personal wishes and choices informed by the self-awareness of her own demise, is. As her mother grows old, she spends much of her time picking up her ladies for Church, driving her to visit elderly shut-ins, attending luncheons, bridge parties etc., and cooking with her for all these occasions. Kirouac like many, has noticed a shift in my surviving parent as aging takes firmer hold of her independence and despite while in the process of loosing her sight of late, it is her unrelenting ‘kinetic memory’ as she cooks through a blurry lens that fascinates Kirouac. Funerals and wakes have become common in her mother’s social calendar and that of and her friends, and listening to their unique perspectives on/during these events around death (at times matter-of-fact) is a driving force and what inspired the question that she began to pose to them –“If you had to choose just one food to have served at your own funeral, what would it be?”
One’s “last” choice speaks volumes around tradition, identity/ethnicity, upbringing, and requires one to consider how they would wish to be represented and remembered, in essence, how they see/saw themselves in life. As her own mother looses one sense after another, food is more than connected to ‘taste’, it is a vehicle for memory in all senses glory, her choice? Lobster. This question is a universal one, and so selections from participants not only close home but international as well.