6th Ural Industrial Biennial of Contemporary Art

Images: Ernest Yakovlev

This performance-installation reflects upon the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on food culture, i.e., the consequent changes provoked by physical, social and mental disconnection amongst people. Taking into account that gastronomic rituals are an important part of our cultural identity, a marker of seasons and locations, Present shows the problematic side of forced disconnection to the point of alienation, whereby food becomes a basic physiological need.

Present took place during the 6th Ural Industrial Biennale 2021. It included six units, placed separately within the exhibition space. Each unit had two parts: an installation with a three meters tall cone and a gastronomic performance. These two parts were connected visually and conceptually: the cones were decorated by edible regional plants, berries, seasonal fruits and vegetables; the same edible components were offered within the gastronomic performance. The cones visualized the gastronomic concepts, introduced the table, and also navigated the public. Visitors would gradually move within the exhibition space, interacting with Present on a multisensorial level.
The gastronomic performances of Present were conducted by the hostesses, equipped with recognizable hazmat suits, referring to the medical workers in the hospital Red Zones. Originally, hazmat suits are designed to protect the medical worker against contamination; however, it also suppresses any personal interaction; excluding haptic contact, “care” turns to a set of highly efficient, almost robotic actions. In Present, this distant way of “caring”" or serving in hazmat suits forced the participants to maintain mental distance from the hostesses, as well reflect on the values of gastronomy —– its role in social and cultural interactions.


Cone: Red cabbage leaves, densely covering the surface of the structure.
Table: Cabbage, farm sour cream, pike caviar, green onions.
Serving: Cabbage leaf, wooden spoon.


Cone: Corncobs, closed at the bottom of the structure and open at the top.
Table: Polenta with parmesan cheese and cream, fresh corn, popcorn. Serving: Pressed trays made of recycled paper materials, corn leaves, wooden fork.


Cone: Figs, rose petals.
Table: Figs, leaves of Tatsoi, Yalta onion, honey, red basil, pink pepper.
Serving: Wooden veneer bowl, wooden fork


Cone: Bunches of mountain ash and sea buckthorn.
Table: Live oysters, juice of autumn berries.
Serving: Opened oyster with a drop of sea buckthorn or rowan juice. Wooden fork.


Cone: Fresh dill flowers.
Table: Artisan bread, butter, salt, dill.
Serving: Pressed trays made of recycled paper.


Cone: Citrus fruits (lemon, tangerine, lime).
Table: Meringue, white chocolate ganache, citrus sorbet, pomelo.
Serving: Wooden veneer bowl, dessert spoon