Creative cooking

For the next month, artist Lantan Xie will cook the same meal every day in a windowless room – all in the name of art. Nyree Barrett discovers what the stunt is about

Yoko Ono
Yoko Ono

This month, Dubai-based artist Lantan Xie (he goes by the name of Lee) will stand in a cordoned-off part of thejamjar in Al Quoz cooking gumbo, an iconic dish from his old stomping ground of New Orleans. Access to Lee will be just out of reach: a set of barriers and blockades will make getting to him a challenge, and you’ll only be able to peer at him through a small window in a huge piece of fabric. The work is part installation, part performance art, part psychological experiment: who will break through the barriers and who will just give up and turn away?

He’ll come in at 10am every day to start cooking – sometimes finishing the meal by late lunchtime, sometimes taking time and cooking until dinner. If you turn up when the food is ready, you’ll get a free meal; if you arrive too late, Lee will be gone. ‘This way it’s more active,’ he says.

So why is he doing this? Lee explains that he wants to explore repetition and how repeated efforts ultimately lead to futility (he anticipates that some days he’ll be cooking for no one). The obstacles will represent airports and borders and the work hopes to mimic the experience of departure, and perhaps arrival (there’s nothing like arriving to the smell of home-cooked food).

‘Is this art?’ we ask Lee. ‘What is art?’ he replies. ‘I’m anticipating a lot of people asking me or themselves whether this is art, and I think that’s good, especially in a community that is so young. French impressionist paintings are art – it’s set in stone already – but new mediums are much more interesting for me because the viewer and the artist have an opportunity to question it all. It’s perfectly legitimate if someone feels it’s not art. That’s OK: I just want to incite some sort of question.’ Scoff or not, head down to thejamjar this month and we guarantee you’ll walk away talking.
I’ll be Back Someday continues at thejamjar until May 28. Lee is scheduled to be there between 10am and 8pm, although he may leave earlier on certain days.

Young and talented

We meet one of the industry’s top new artists.

Amartey Golding
Age: 22
Nationality: British

My inspirations: Philip de László and Irving Penn: they deal with the human form in very different ways, but both of them bring out a presence in the sitter that I strive to match.

Art should always… be meaningful in its own right.

Art should never… depend on a long explanation to give it worth.

The story behind the piece: ‘Two Old Men’ (right) is one of a few montage works based on drawings from my last exhibition. I use Photoshop to cut the images and try to create new characters: the landscapes in which they sit represent my imagination. The old man in the centre is one of my favourite works from my last exhibition. His body is from a photograph I found: I thought his expression would work well, but that I’d give him a new body language. The landscape represents my mind and imagination. The red lines are taken from a technical drawing of an old telephone, similar to one my grandmother had when I was younger: they represent stories related to her. The mountains are from a Mongolian landscape, symbolising a nomadic lifestyle and relating to my urge to keep moving and learning.

If I wasn’t an artist, I’d be... An architect, a farmer or a dog breeder.

Amartey Golding’s exhibition, One for Sorrow, Two For Joy, continues at the Showcase Gallery until May 27

Performance art: the stars

The works that gave the genre its interesting reputation.

In 1952, John Cage penned a piano performance entitled ‘4’ 33’’’ in which he sat at the piano for exactly four minutes and 33 seconds, playing nothing.

Joseph Beuys spent a few weeks walking around a gallery in 1965 talking to a dead hare with his face covered in honey and gold leaf, in a piece entitled ‘How to Explain Pictures to a Dead Hare’.

Famous oddball Yoko Ono performed ‘Cut Piece’ in Tokyo and London during the heady ’60s (and again in Paris in 2003). She knelt on the floor in a long dress, the audience rushing up and cutting at her dress until she was disrobed.

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