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Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Crapping Your Pants for Art: Bompas and Parr's 'Dirt Banquet'

Posted By on Tue, Mar 29, 2011 at 2:01 PM

click to enlarge London's Crossness sewage-pumping station, site of the April 2 event. - STEVECADMAN/FLICKR
  • stevecadman/Flickr
  • London's Crossness sewage-pumping station, site of the April 2 event.

Jonathan Kauffman's recent review of Atelier Crenn, a restaurant shaped by chef Dominique Crenn's notion of "poetic culinaria," brought up again the question of food as art. Is the aim of a restaurant meal simply to entertain while satisfying hunger? Could it be purely art? Or both?

In the the U.K., artists Bompas and Parr have wasted no time using food as a primary medium of expression. The duo is best known for installations like the pop-up breathable gin-and-tonic bar in London, where participants strolled into ― then stumbled out of ― a room filled with a fine mist of gin and tonic, and collaborations with architects that have resulted in elaborate structures made entirely out of gelatin.

The latest from the duo is "Dirt Banquet," an exploration of our social and physiological relationship to food and dirt, in one of London's oldest and most ornate sewage-pumping stations, the Crossness. The sold-out April 2 event features a menu that includes pork cooked in an imu (earth oven), Isay Scotch whisky distilled from grain roasted with peat moss, and fermented natto. The grand finale is civet coffee, rare coffee beans "harvested" from civet cat feces, while a "brown note" is played on a sound system. That's a theoretical infrasonic frequency (between 5 and 9 hertz) that reportedly causes humans to lose control of their bowels due to resonance. Yes, wear a diaper.

Lou Bustamante tweets at @thevillagedrunk. Follow SFoodie at @sfoodie, and like us on Facebook.

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