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Wednesday, Sept. 29, 2010

UWM’s ‘Conspicuous Consumption’ Gives Food for Thought

Art Review

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“Conspicuous Consumption” at the UW-Milwaukee Union Art Gallery is part of the university’s “Food for Thought” series, which explores “how food connects us to the environment, our culture and to each other.” The show features the work of Patty Chang, Mark Menjivar and Milwaukee-based John Riepenhoff.

Riepenhoff presented his food collage Physical Pizza Networking Theory. The pizza within a pizza represents an infinite reproduction, depicted as a “meta symbolic experience of pizza as a hearth, as meeting point, as cultural convergence.” Within 20 minutes, Riepenhoff’s piece was viewed and consumed by the audience, leaving a memory of the visual, the taste and the interaction with others about the pizza. Riepenhoff’s pizza will be available each Thursday through Oct. 14 at 4 p.m.

The photographs by Menjivar feature the contents of people's refrigerators. The title of each portrait contains a glimpse into the individual, such as Midwife/Middle School Science Teacher | San Antonio, TX | 3-Person Household (including dog) | First Week After Deciding to Eat All Local Produce. The collection includes people both rich and poor, with diverse backgrounds and beliefs. Menjivar, who is active in the Slow Food Movement, wanted to depict “how we care for our bodies, how we care for others and how we care for the land.” He will speak at the gallery on Oct. 7 at 7 p.m.

Chang gave a gallery talk for the Sept. 24 opening, which showcased her body of work, including videos and the short films “Shangri-La” and “The Product Love.” The exhibit features the video “Melons,” in which Chang cuts through her bra to reveal a melon, which she begins to eat, as if she is eating her own breast.

Each artist connects the shared human experience of food through a personal expression of it. The show, indeed, leaves the audience with food for thought.

“Conspicuous Consumption” continues through Oct. 15.