Comestible 7-Day Meal Plan: Food as Text

Artistís Book 2020 (publication date)


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.

What we eat has tremendous implications for our health, society, and the environment. Interweaving ethical, political, aesthetic, and poetic registers, Badani’s seven messy and discomforting “recipes” invite the reader to consider the larger ecological landscape in which food and diet are part of the greater global narrative.

Part ecological manifesto, part artistic parody, this provocative work – disguised as an easy-to-read cookbook – blends ideas about consumerism, power, experience, time, nature, innocence, hope, sin and salvation. Melding photography together with elements ranging from poetry to science to informed psychobabble, this 7-day “diet plan” is funny, whimsical, and refreshingly critical of the greed behind consumption.

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

Available in Libraries: Indie Illinois Biblioboard / School of the Art Institute of Chicago Artists' Book Collection.

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.

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).
In this artist book I survey my fraught relationship with food production and consumption –highly charged arenas in which cultural, social, economic and political tensions converge. I parody ‘diet plans’ by means of seven recipes that are food for thought; ironic propositions that depart from culinary instructions typically found in ‘how to’ cookbooks.

Rather, ingredients and directions offer enticing clues to time, place, class, and character by melding together elements ranging from poetry to children’s rhymes to informed psychobabble.

At the intersection of art and science, the editorial design alludes to instruction manuals and to scientific papers in that I take certain conventions –like periodic tables– to transmit the aesthetic of a laboratory exploration, or a biology cabinet. Interweaving ethical, political, aesthetic, and poetic registers, I invite the reader to consider the larger ecological landscape in which food and diet are part of a greater narrative involving life’s makeovers.

I intentionally make use of the Book’s aesthetic, conceptual, material and digital forms – including production and dissemination activities – due to relations, features, and processes that embody aspects of digital thinking 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 boundaries between the analog and the digital -- establishing correlations in digital hypertext, or digital literature.

The artist's book combines various literary mediums and genres to reshape its own and presents the reader with complex assemblages on entangled phenomena. 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 antiag 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.