HIGH ART: Curtis and Huelsmann emote at ITP

By on February 26, 2013


There is really only one thing that can temper the sadness of watching a portrayal of Ian Curtis’ life slip into chaotic blackness – warm cheese and cauliflower soup. This weekend the newest and most alternative art space in Jackson, ITP, hosted an intimate movie viewing and pop-up dinner from our local molecular food talent Kevin Huelsmann. Taking notes from Curtis’ British heritage, Huelsmann served up an array of original and rich culinary snacks to warm and comfort the crowd through the beautiful and arduous film, “Control.”

Produced in 2007, “Control” is an intimate tale of the interior and domestic life of the young Ian Curtis as he rises to popularity with the band Joy Division. As a fan of their music and Huelsmann’s talent and passion for food, I was thrilled to have a night out that paired art, people, and eating in new atmosphere. This is what many have been waiting for in this town, especially in the art circle – a space that is accessible, comfortable and just edgy enough to make us understand the experience inside of it in a different way.

Riffing off of Teton Art Lab’s successful dinner and a movie events from several years ago, ITP put together a thoughtful event. Amongst the art of their current exhibition from Benjamin Funke we gathered in a room and sank into chaise lounges, church pews and love seats to watch the movie. Just as the ingénue Curtis begins to find himself as an artist and gets married to his teenage love we were brought a soup that married weight and levity, bland color and bright fresh herbs, heavy cheese and delicate pesto into one dish. The soup, Huelsmann’s riff on British cuisine, mirrored the emotional complexity of the movie. It was a foreboding moment.

On it’s own, blended cauliflower soup could be down right depressing – heavy, colorless, pungent. What struck me aboutthis dish was that the cauliflower foundation became a platform for the other ingredients to shine. Small peppered bleu cheese bites were suspended in the middle, a cheese crostini elegantly popped from the center and a gorgeous deep green pesto was ladled around the outside of the bowl. In the last few days as I have thought about this experience, and the memories of soup have stayed with me, I can’t help thinking about it as being a perfect metaphor for what we were seeing in the movie. All of the meals served had a tension between very heavy, rich elements, and lightness. It was as if the dishes were on the brink of going one way or another, but they maintained a balance that sat on the edge of destruction.

I love eating this way. In fact, the few dinner and art events I’ve been to in the last six months (the other being Bob Berky & Lisa Miller’s production at Shades Cafe) have been so rewarding and mystical that I want to start curating all my meals with art. It’s a further incarnation of installation, performance art and socially-driven practices. For a foodie such as myself who sees cooking as art, it’s not a stretch to deconstruct dishes in the same way I do art. But what I love so much about these fused dinner events is that the cooking is thought-provoking and sensual. At these events, the chef was like a skilled costume designer whose garment choices help us perceive and relate to the character in a deeper, nuanced way.

Interestingly enough, both the film and theatrical pieces from these dinner/art events were very dark with underlying themes of death, desperation, and art. What better way to enjoy your food than to be so happy to be alive and sitting in a warm environment with your comrades?

For more on this topic come listen to Huelsmann talk about food art at Culture Front Live!, this Wednesday the 27th at The Rose. For more information on current and upcoming programming at ITP visit www.itpspace.com.

Photo Cutline: CRed – Ian Curtis with Joy Division.

About Abbie Miller

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