Would you eat soup made from radioactive vegetables? And if you did, would it be art?
These are some of the questions that will be asked - and perhaps answered - at this year’s Frieze Art Fair in London, as two Japanese artists offer visitors that chance to enjoy a broth made from ingredients sourced from Fukushima.
The artists, known as United Brothers, are making the soup as part of the performance art piece Does This Soup Taste Ambivalent? in solidarity with those affected by the Japanese nuclear disaster in 2011.
Ei Arakawa, an established Japanese contemporary artist, and his brother Tomoo, who ran a chain of tanning salons, have assured Frieze organisers that the soup is safe to eat. They say the vegetables have been cleared by the Japanese Farmers’ Association.
The pair, who are from Iwaki in Fukushima, will fly their mother over from Japan to make the noodle soup each day during the fair.
Banned, censored and 'offensive' artworks
Banned, censored and 'offensive' artworks
1/8 'My Bed' - Tracey Emin
Emin, one of the Young British Artists, created arguably her most iconic and controversial piece of art with 'My Bed'. It was short-listed for the 1999 Tuner Prize but sparked public outrage and a media furore. Emin's own bed is displayed here, surrounded by evidence of her sexual, self-destructive exploits. Stained sheets, fag butts, empty beer bottles, condom and worn underwear can all be seen in this image of suicidal depression following a major break-up.
2/8 'Christ You Know It Ain't Easy' - Sarah Lucas
This 3D piece by English artist and Tracey Emin contemporary Sarah Lucas is made from cigarette butts and depicts Christ being crucified on the cross of the English flag. It is thought to be a comment on the difficulty of quitting smoking. Lucas took up the habit aged 9. Much of her work is designed to be shocking and provocative - someone is always offended.
3/8 'Fountain' - Marcel Duchamp
This scandalous porcelain urinal, signed R.Mutt, was rejected by the Society of Independent Artists in 1917 even though the rules stated that any submission would be accepted from artists who paid the fee. Pictured here is a replica of the 1917 piece. The original is believed lost. 'Fountain' is an example of Duchamp's revolutionary 'readymades' - ordinary manufactured objects designated by the artist as art.
4/8 'The Holy Virgin Mary' - Chris Ofili
The provocative Sensation exhibit at the Brooklyn Art Museum in 1999 caused great offence. Nigerian artist Ofili's depiction of an African Madonna surrounded by black bottoms and elephant poo was called 'anti-Catholic' and 'horrible' by New York's mayor at the time. So 'horrible' that Rudy Giuliani filed a lawsuit against the museum.
5/8 'Immersion Piss Christ' - Andres Serrano
Two Catholic activists partially destroyed US artist Serrano's artwork while it was on display in the south of France. Created in 1987, it represents a small plastic crucifix submerged in a glass of the artist's own urine.
6/8 'Western-Christian Civilization' - Leon Ferrari
Argentine conceptual artist Ferrari often dealt with power and religion in his work, using images of Jesus and the Virgin Mary with cages, frying pans and even meat blenders. Showing Christ crucified on a fighter plane, 'Western-Christian Civilization' was a protest work against the Vietnam War. Governments were constantly battling against Ferrari - he was exiled from Brazil and a 2004 exhibition of his work was temporarily forced to close when Pope Francis intervened.
7/8 'Bacchante and Infant Faun' - Frederick William MacMonnies
This bronze statue caused an uproar in 1854 when an architect tried to erect it in the courtyard of the Boston Public Library. Modern viewers will see little to get het up about but the nude Roman wine deity's 'drunken indecency' offended the Women's Christian Temperance Union. It was taken down to the more liberal New York instead and is now exhibited in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. MacMonnies earned worldwide fame as a result.
8/8 'Saint Bartholomew, Exquisite Pain' - Damien Hirst
No stranger to controversy, Hirst's original sculpture had no fig leaf to protect his modesty. The artist added the extra detail to prevent issues with Chinese collectors and left it in when the sculpture was displayed in Qatar. Nudity can offend Islamic culture, particularly in places where the general public has not been exposed to contemporary art.
Its main ingredient, the daikon radish, was grown in Fukushima, near where a devastating earthquake and tsunami damaged the nuclear power plant, resulting in three of the reactors melting down causing nuclear material to seep out. The soup will be given out free.
“The gift of food represents the essence of hospitality, sharing and humanity,” explains the Frieze catalogue. “However, the soup United Brothers offer is laced with the (conceptual) possibility that it may be radioactive”.
Frieze director Matthew Slotover said: “They are flying in vegetables. They’ve been tested, they’re safe, but there’s clearly a psychological barrier.”
He continued: “It’s one of those projects where you don’t know if there is going to be a huge queue or whether no one is going to go near it.”
The “radioactive” soup is part of the 12th Frieze Art Fair in London, which involves 160 contemporary art galleries, and its sister fair Frieze Masters, which concentrates on historical art. They open in Regent’s Park on October. Other notable works this year will include the Hauser & Wirth stand, where Turner Prize-winner Mark Wallinger will recreate Sigmund Freud’s London study.
Artist Jonathan Berger is making a work inspired by Andy Kaufman, which will involve materials owned by the US comic, as well as friends and family who will talk to visitors.
Mr Slotover, who founded the fair with Amanda Sharp, announced the pair was to step down as directors next year. They will be replaced by Victoria Siddall, who set up the successful Frieze Masters.
“She is exceptional,” Mr Slotover said. “She will be busy but she will have support.”Reuse content