A Miami based contemporary art newsletter / blog

Art Basel Miami Beach 2008 Studio Visits: Jason Hedges

Aesthetic Experience #13 (Lamb), 2008. Lamb, Fire, Steel & Earth 228″ x 33″ x 36″

In conjunction with recent collaborations between Thomas Hollingworth, Art Basel Miami Beach 2008 (Magazine pg. 100), Modern Luxury (Miami) and NO MAD Paper, featuring Miami culture, ARTLURKER, will now present studio visits of select Miami based contemporary artists. Running concurrently with Art Basel Miami Beach the aim of these features is to venerate the cities native artistic wealth and honor those who continue to make Miami what it is.

A lover of food and history, Hedges expresses a variety of subtle societal and political mores through his work which in always find their way inexorably back to cooking. Famous recently for creating a modular spit triptych on which he simultaneously roasted three whole lambs, his art treads a fine line between modern civility and the beast of our instinctual human condition.

What’s cooking Jason?

I use food and drink in my work as subject matter and media and explore formal art practices formal aesthetics and also various socio-political things that have become tied with these things. Most recent stuff that I have been exploring is getting into spices a lot; drawing tangents and looking at cycles of globalization, objects of desire and status symbols. Like at one time, pepper was the be all and end all. Various things at various times to various cultures. Everything has been globally in turmoil and all kind of transitional not so ideal states for a lot of people. It’s tough. A lot of stuff that I have been exploring in the past has been about fundamental beauties and screw all the bullshit that we have attached to these things, but now there’s not as much beauty in a lot of ways because everything is so over exploited, visually and in every single way. Whether its salty greasy food or material possessions everyone is sort of numb and has become accustomed to excess. I think its relevant and I am looking at it from a different way, a more precious, well its always precious but in the way that everyone is looking back at Bush, we should really be looking back a lot earlier to the times and people we still haven’t learned from.

Untitled Aesthetic Experience #5 (Oil), 2000.Variable dimensions (24” x 24” x 31” each). Performance / Installation, olive oil, bread, plates, bowls, tables, performers/audience.

Many of your pieces, especially the larger scale performances have a lot to do with community and service.

Yes, community as a whole and syncing up. Even very simple synchronization is helpful to people; even more so now because of the way in which technology has dethatched us from our personal exchanges. These days we are so much more connected to everybody else because we can get around and network and communicate but we don’t know our neighbors. And I am totally guilty of it as much as the next person. Not that there aren’t definitely worse examples but I can definitely say that I don’t know my neighbors.

Is there any one area in your work that you feel best expresses what you have to say?

I have been having an urge to do more of the performative works. That interaction and that direct physical exchange. For Basel I will be doing a piece with cabbage. Based on one of Aristotle’s little books on problematica, or the problems of humanity from this to that. One of the things it gets into is the excess of alcohol and how to deal with that, you know, the ancient hangover cure. What he advised was that cabbage soup was a great cure for a hangover, so, periodically I will be serving up cabbage soup from the little courtyard over here [opposite Design Miami]. I think definitely Friday morning because we’re all going to be here for the studio visits anyway.

How much do you find contemporary man in all his domesticated glory relates to the historical significance of your work?

I really don’t try to get into it so much but I kind of feel that a lot of people really don’t get into the work as much as they could. I mean all that stuff is there whether I play on it or not, the materials, objects and items that I use are always super super loaded and super super significant, but lot of people are still like “its just food”. As much as I would like them to get into it they don’t really get into it to the level that they begin to appreciate all the information that is in there. Because of this I spend a lot of time trying to find a balance so that I can inform people of these things, perhaps in a little more blatant way. Because a lot of my work is naturally quite subtle and subversive, people have to get into it a little bit to get it, but I certainly don’t have a problem with demanding a little bit out of my viewer. Though most of my audience is relatively well informed, luckily enough.

Joseph Drouhin, Beaune Clos des Mouches 1985 #1, 2006. Wine on Paper 40” x 60”

But when your working with food, everyone wants a piece and it’s not like everyone who goes to a gallery and eats hors dœuvres has to understand the exhibition.

Part of the problem, or part of the charm, is that I don’t work through bodies like some other artists do. I don’t make like fifty pieces of a similar thing, ever, so people may have a hard time catching up or even catching on. And thank God. Imagine how depressed I would be if the wine pieces sold like hot cakes and every day I came in and did the same thing, poured wine out on paper and went home. Here’s another two hundered bottle of wine, awesome.

Two hundred dollars?

Oh yeah, all the wines I use for these drawings are all super heavy wines. When I first started out making the wine pieces I would use wine that had been left over from a dinner or whatever and they were cool so I thought right, I’ll commit to this and get some bottles with the intention of doing this. Significant bottles from significant years, trophies total trophies and they just sang; the better wine rang clear.

Aesthetic experience #1 (House salad) Performance Still #1, 2001. Cibachrome 60” x 48”

Do you feel closer to your art because of your medium?

Well, I love food. But you can love paint. You can love wood. I love wood and steel and salt. Its all materials you know. It’s all just physical matter that we are allowed to fool around with. Food is just something that we have so much contact with. And more so, the significance of the ability to have stuff is what changed the game; the ability to store and have access to stuff when you don’t have access to anything else. That’s what allowed civilization to happen. That’s what allowed us to happen. Where we are al right now. Once we learned how to cultivate stuff and we had surplus and excess it was the start[.]


Jason Hedges will be serving his cabbage soup hangover cure intermittently from the court yard directly outside of Design Miami next door to the Bordello Bodega.

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Art Basel Miami Beach 2008 Studio Visits: Jason Hedges