Comestible 7-Day Meal Plan: Food as Text

Artist's Book 2020 (publication date)

ELO 2022: E2Lit
Media Art Festival - May 30 to June 1
Collegio Gallio, Como, Italy


artist’s books; photo-essays & documentaries; popular culture; food and culture; sustainability; philosophy of food; consumerism; ecology and ethics; the environment; globalization; social ecology; poetry; eco-art.

"Comestible 7-Day Meal Plan: Food as Text" combines alternative publishing with book arts and new media. It is an ecological manifesto in the form of an 84-page artist's Cookbook that infuses a critical viewpoint on the use of food as a tool for the exercise of power. Urgent geopolitical, environmental, labor, and economic narratives are playfully embedded into the cookbook's recipes.

Drawing from the tradition of cookbook as art manifesto traced back to the Italian Futurist Cookbook (1932) and to 1960s avant-garde food-themed concepts (Fluxus and New Realism), "Comestible 7-Day Meal Plan: Food as Text" is a playful narrative that intentionally makes use of aesthetic, conceptual, material, and digital forms - including production and dissemination activities - due to relations, features, and processes that embody aspects of digital rational such as hypertextuality, multiplicity, reproducibility, and access. Owing its existence entirely to digital devices and networks, the book is informed by non-linear reading practices, creating a context that mingles the boundaries between analog and digital -- establishing correlations in electronic hypertext, or e-literature.

Available for purchase in North America, UK, Europe, Australia... @Barnes & Noble / Amazon (USA, UK, AU) / Book Depository / Alibris / Agapea / FNAC (France)...and in specialized bookstores.

Available in Book Arts special collections and Libraries: Joan Flasch Artists' Book collection - School of the Art Institute of Chicago Artists' Book Collection. / Indie Illinois Biblioboard

PDF Download @ CEIARTE edu: Centro de Experimentación e investigación en Artes Electrónicas (Universidad Nacional de Tres de Febrero, Argentina).

Talks and Round Table discussions:“Aesthetic Entanglements” Hub Events #19, Media Lab, Brasil, 2020 / "Art, Science, and the Invisible World we Live in", SPARKS ACM Siggraph, USA, 2021..

Publisher: Pat Badani Studio (July 20, 2020)
Author/Photographer/Project director: Pat Badani
Editorial Design: Veronica Borsani
Language: English
ISBN: 978-1-7349026-9-3 (paperback)
ISBN:978-1-7349026-7-9 (epub)
ISBN: 978-1-7349026-8-6 (kindle)
Paperback: 86 pages
Product Dimensions: 6.7 x 0.2 x 9.6 inches.
Afterimage Journal of Media Arts and Cultural Criticism, University of California Press.
Volume 47, Issue #4 (December 2020).
Leveraging today's diet obsessed-culture my 'plan' was to mirror and upset the many worlds within worlds pertaining to how food is being shaped by research and markets based on societal shifts and challenges. The artist's book presents the reader with complex assemblages on entangled phenomena; it combines various literary mediums and genres to reshape its own (the cookbook's taxonomy and authoritative style, scientific papers, children's rhymes...). As if at the edge of language, the book's recipes are ironic propositions departing from culinary directives typically found in 'how to' cookbooks. Rather, my texts explore current societal trends over 'what we eat' in recipes titled Changing Climate and Your Greens, Water Stress, Liberalized Trade, Poor Consumer, Cultures and Ferments, Adaptation & Balance. And, by organizing each recipe under headings found in pharmaceutical products (Ingredients, Directions, Uses, and Warnings), I imply that food might be seen as a 'prescription' for health.

Through typography, color, image and format, the book affirms irreducibility to linear logical propositions with the aim of promulgating new patterns of interpretation. The texts, images and editorial design are based on a logic of separation and connection that invite the reader to participate in a space-time 'performance'. My 'plan' was to experiment with the disruption of continuity, inviting the reader to experience dis/continuity; dis/orientation; dis/jointedness of time and space, entanglements of here and there, of this moment and another. The work represents a model of reality; a world with juxtaposing languages by turns provocative, playful, erudite, and at its best, plain weird. The book does not intend to explain or to solve and rather favors the deployment of "coexisting multiplicities of interlocking relationships" between creatures, plants, liquids, objects, actants, and power structures.

Pat Badani

Book Reviews

Claudia Costa Pederson, Afterimage Journal of Media Arts and Cultural Criticism, Volume 47, Issue#4. Univeristy of California Press (December 24, 2020).
“Review: Comestible 7-Day Meal Plan: Food as Text, by Pat Badani

“Disguised as a cookbook, ”Comestible 7-Day Meal Plan: Food as Text” by Argentinian artist Pat Badani combines the taxonomic language of science (biology and chemistry),with the seductive photogrphy and pseudo-babble of marketing, with the declarative style of the art manifesto. The meal plan is conceived not so much to result in comestibles (meals to be consumed), but, more to the point, to provide food for thought. Badani refers to the book as an “ecological manifesto.”

“… leveraging today’s diet obsessed-culture, ”Comestible 7-Day Meal Plan” recombines alternative publishing with book arts and new media to reinfuse a critical perspective on the use of food as a tool of oppression.”

“The work conveys disgust with a culture that manifestly claims diversity for confirming rather than challenging unsustainable hierarchies. Attending to the domestic roots of ecology (from the Greek ‘oikos’, meaning “house, dwelling place, habitation” and “logy,” meaning study), Badani’s approach remakes the kitchen into an art lab, replaces cooking in the lexicon of DIY bioart, and reverse engineers cookbook protocols to serve timely cultural critique.”

Mike Sula, Chicago Reader, Food & Drink Feature, (October 6, 2020).
Fill up with Pat Badani’s ‘Comestible 7-Day Meal Plan’. It’s a manifesto of ecological cooking.

“ The book took shape in a few iterations over the years, but eventually Badani wanted to produce something affordable (the paperback goes for USD $24.99) ... ‘This is food. This is how it affects us socially, and this is what you can do through food to change the present and affect the future.’ ”

“It’s seven chapters over 86 pages in which her manipulated food photos take the form of celestial representatives of the days of the week. …A mung bean arrangement is Mercury—Thursday—which is titled “Liberalized Trade.” The dish’s straight stripes of brightly colored vegetables also assume the form of an antiflag with ‘no recognized constitution’... . A breakfast of crunchy mealworms with almonds, cherries, and pumpkin seeds (Moon, Monday) accompanies a list of insects eaten around the world, assigned to contemporary chefs who’ve dabbled in edible arthropods. ...At the end of the week a bloody smear of pomegranate (Saturn, Saturday) stands in for every food neuroses humans have suffered since Adam choked on the apple Eve gave him.”

“Badani raises a lot of issues in the book: sustainability, accessibility, food safety and insecurity, and culture, but it’s peppered with absurdities; a Marinetti for the natural world. Not to give too much away, but “Icky Miss Muffet ” ends up eating the spider, and “lost lovers use rooftop-grown greens to detox their livers of failed relationships.”

Image still from a video interview at Pat Badani Studio with the Comestible
process wall in the background.
Comestible 7-Day Meal Plan: Food as Text / All media and texts © Pat Badani, 2020.