After snaking around numerous, well-appointed displays and installations filled with fascinating cooking equipment; beautiful, artsy dishes and cutlery; videos of restaurant design and other food-related “offerings,” on opening night of “Tapas: Spanish Design For Food,” you ended up at an interactive performance from the great Catalan mixed-media and food artist Antoni Miralda.
Miralda, who with his partner Montse Guillen once ran one of the most intriguing art galleries in the early years of Wynwood (TransEAT) and now resides mostly back in Spain, was milling around with his camera. In front of him was a three-sided sculpture, each side a painting of a tapas (octopus, potato, lamb) with circular cutouts. You put your face through a cutout and had your photograph taken. The assistants then took you to the “kitchen,” where a row of people sat at computers and printed out your image. The catch: the paper was made out of potato, and using dips to the side, you could eat your image. Titled “Eat You — Eat Me,” Miralda calls it an “edible performance art.”
This is no ordinary exhibit. It is part of the series of shows that have been going on all over Miami for the anniversary of Ponce de Leon’s arrival in Florida 500 years ago, presented by the Accion Cultural Española along with the Spanish Cultural Center (CCE).
On the second floor of the fabulous Moore Building in the Design District, “Tapas” will run through Art Basel week, and then travel to other stops throughout the globe.
For the uninitiated, Spain has been in the forefront of avant-garde cuisine and design for a decade, producing famous experimental chefs, kitchen accoutrements that are unique and simply gorgeous to look at, and sleek restaurant designs, conveying as the catalogue notes, “the image of a country that is imaginative, modern and in love with food.”
It is divided into three sections, Kitchen, Table and Food. One of the best installations is in the Table area, a very small, very thin white-wood table, where the white cups, plates and bowls hang from the side, as does a little plant-holder with a green bamboo sprout. It’s called “romantic table set for a couple on minimum wages.” It’s so cool.
There is much, much more here, including many examples of tapas dishes — which can be both decorative and functional items. What comes through in the end is that like tapas, which is meant to be shared by a group, cooking and dining are inherently communal activities, and what we sit on, eat off of, drink from are as integral as the meal itself.