Or, Elementality of Tundra

December 2013
75 eaters, five plates
Reality Principle
Cooley Gallery, Reed College
Portland, Oregon


01 Cold Coast
02 Topography of an Oyster
03 First Frost
04 Hallucinating Meat
05 Traces of Warmth

Dish Details


Here we present our own geological-culinary intuition of "Sovietness" (a designated theme by our client). Just as the Soviet artists performed gestures of “radicalized immediacy and intensity,” we excavate, so to speak, ingredients (petrified fossils) typical of Siberian tundra.

The point is that tundra (just like the artists) is alive and as such resists the imposed climatological conditions: animals (birds, fish, mammals) develop additional layers of fat and blubber; roots of plants extend along the surface because of permafrost; leaves have hairs to retain moisture.

The cold thus creates a particular toughness, a fibrous sensibility, only to align itself with other atmospheric elements: wind, dryness, wetness (becoming-frost), night, shadow (relative location of sun casting larger shadows, creating longer nights). When this whole elementality hardens we hear the sounds of cold: cracking, crunching, quiet. In one word, ice. The zone of cold itself then cracks and extends its vast crevices far beyond Soviet perimeter: tundra overtakes life (of the artist, of the prisoner, of the new “man”).

We thus inject some vitality into ice as a material by exposing its geography on the plate.

Sam Yehros (assistance with planning, cooking, and presenting)
Jac Nelson (assistance with documentation)