Seafood Throwdown in New York City!

For Immediate Release - May 20, 2010

Art Meets Ocean Meets Seafood Meets Local Food

Seafood Throwdown Coming to Union Square Farmers’ Market

New York, NY – Seafood Throwdown, a unique food event, is coming to the Union Square Farmers Market on June 5, 2010 from noon to 2 p.m. In this Iron-Chef inspired program, a surprise chef will face off against members of the artist collective Spurse, in a heart-pounding race to transform a secret locally caught seafood, combined with whatever they choose from the farmers market vendors, into culinary delights. The seafood is revealed to the competitors only moments before the competition begins, and then it’s a contest of speed and creativity. Judging this spectacular competition will be Food Network Sous Chef Miriam Garronm Food Network Magazine Recipe Developer, Claudia Sidoti, Greenmarket/GrowNYC's Executive Director, Marcel VanOoyen, and Long Island fisherman Phil Karlin.  Restaurant owner Jimmy Carbone of Jimmy’s No. 43 will emcee the event.

The event is a collaboration between Spurse, Northwest Atlantic Marine Alliance (NAMA), GrowNY/Greenmarkets and Whitney Museum of American Art.  It promises to be a fun, educational and community-driven activity designed to link the importance of locally caught seafood to the health and resilience of our ocean: Know your seafood; know your local fishermen; and know your local fishery ecosystem and how it fares!

“The not-so-secret agenda is to raise awareness about the ecological and economic importance of locally caught seafood in our efforts to rebuild commercial fisheries and protect the marine environment,” said Phil Karlin, Long Island fisherman who sells his catch at the Union Square Farmers Market and is one of the judges for the event. “Our source of food from the ocean is in danger of being taken over by industrial food production models like agribusiness and with that our marine environment is endangered.  Based on everything we’ve learned over the past few decades, we know industrialization will endanger our environment, biodiversity, food safety, food sovereignty and food security, not to mention the economic and social fabric of the communities like ours that are putting food on our tables. That’s what we have learned from food grown on land and need to apply to the food we bring you from the ocean.”

This event kicks off a two-year tour of public events for Spurse's mobile installations, collectively called OCEA(n): Ocean Commons Entanglement Apparatus (in the absence of the concept of 'Nature'), which is designed to introduce people to the complexities of gathering and at the same time protecting living resources of the sea.  Inspired by NAMA’s book Sharing The Ocean, this installation is intended to enable educational events such as “Seafood Throwdowns” through its innovative design capable of staging a wide range of unexpected encounters. During its journey along the Northwest Atlantic coastline, OCEA(n) will wander across various geographic, ecological and institutional boundaries to revisit contemporary ideas about cultural-natural world relationships. 

“How do we relate the ocean's ecosystems with our own? In the simplest sense, how are we part of the ocean? These are some of the questions we set out to explore with OCEA(n),” said Iain Kerr, founding member of Spurse. “To bring this exploration out of the gallery and into Union Square Market is a vital conceptual departure.”

Spurse has a history of exploring such questions through the act of eating, as they have created a number of experimental restaurants and meals that intensify our relationship to the ecosystems that produce our food. The artist collective plans to employ “Seafood Throwdown” with equal effect: OCEA(n) will be moved from the exhibit hall and installed at the market as the provisional kitchen. Chefs will be assigned a team of young art patrons participating in Whitney’s Family Program to aid them in shopping and preparation. Each chef will be allowed to bring three of his/her favorite ingredients to the market.  After they discover their secret seafood, each team will get 100 to spend at the farmers market in a 20-minute shopping frenzy. The teams will then have an hour to cook and plate their creations for the judges.  Public tastings will be available.

"Many people don't necessarily connect the headlines in the paper about the state of our ocean and fisheries to the seafood on our dinner plates," said Liz Carollo, GrowNYC/Greenmarkets Publicity Coordinator. "We think about where our tomato comes from, who grew it, how they grew it and how far it traveled before we're eating it and we need to start thinking the same way about our seafood."

The exhibit at the Whitney Museum of American Art includes and goes beyond food production to encompass the whole relationship people have with the sea.  “From the moment we stood at the water’s edge, looking toward new worlds, we have always been devising ways to shrink the immensity of our oceans, sometimes at a great cost,” said Petia Morozov, of Spurse. “At the heart of OCEA(n)  is a deep curiosity about how we modulate with systems that are larger or smaller, slower or faster, than us, and more interestingly, how we co-evolve with these systems.”

OCEA(n) is one of thirteen works presented in this year's Whitney Independent Study Program exhibition called "UNDERCURRENTS: Experimental Ecosystems in Recent Art." Organized by curatorial fellows Anik Fournier, Michelle Lim, Amanda Parmer and Robert Wuilfe, the exhibition will be held from May 27th through June 19th, 2010, at The Kitchen (512 West 19th Street, New York City), and will be accompanied by an exhibition catalogue published by Whitney Museum in association with Yale University Press.

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For more information, please contact:

Note to editors:  For more information about this exhibition, please visit Whitney ISP’s website: http://whitney.org/Research/ISP/CuratorialProgram/2010Exhibition

For videos and photos of past Seafood Throwdowns, please visit http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=seafood+throwdown&aq=f and http://www.flickr.com/photos/53573148@N00/sets/

About the Partners

The Whitney Museum of American Art is the leading advocate of 20th- and 21st-century American art. Founded in 1930, the Museum is regarded as the preeminent collection of American art and includes major works and materials from the estate of Edward Hopper, the largest public collection of works by Alexander Calder, as well as significant works by Jasper Johns, Donald Judd, Agnes Martin, Bruce Nauman, Georgia O'Keeffe, Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen, Kiki Smith, and Andy Warhol, among other artists. With its history of exhibiting the most promising and influential American artists and provoking intense critical and public debate, the Whitney's signature show, the Biennial, has become the most important survey of the state of contemporary art in America today. First housed on West 8th Street, the Whitney relocated in 1954 to West 54th Street and in 1966 inaugurated its present home at 945 Madison Avenue, designed by Marcel Breuer. The Whitney is currently moving ahead with plans to build a second facility, designed by Renzo Piano, located in downtown New York at the entrance to the High Line in the Meatpacking District.

GrowNYC improves New York City's quality of life through environmental programs that transform communities block by block and empower all New Yorkers to secure a clean and healthy environment for future generations.  GrowNYC achieves its mission through the following projects and programs: Greenmarket, which runs 50 farmers markets throughout the city; Open Space Greening, which creates and rejuvenates community gardens and builds rainwater harvesting systems; Environmental Education, which offers meaningful projects in the areas of conservation, alternative energy and more in intermediate and high schools; the Office of Recycling Outreach and Education, which promotes recycling and waste prevention; Learn It, Grow It, Eat It, which promotes healthy eating for teens; Youthmarkets, which oversees youth-operated urban farm stands; and the New Farmer Development Project, which helps agriculturally experienced immigrants become self sufficient farmers.  For more information, visit us at www.grownyc.org

Spurse is an open-ended group of individuals and organizations that work together as a type of experimental consultation service towards the development of new forms of engagement, practices and knowledges.  We believe that there is a necessity today of working collectively to rethink all of the givens of our modes of being in the world so to develop new forms of practices and knowledges. We are creatures who are not alone -- and we, as creatures, are a type of collective -- a complex entanglement of many other creatures (bacteria, fungi, protocistae etc.), systems, habits, matters of concern and forces at varying scales. This world, is a world that we are not simply “in” but we are, rather, an intra-actively co-emerging part of this dynamic world. It is a world of irreducible messiness, complexity and open-ended multiplicity.

The Northwest Atlantic Marine Alliance works with fishermen and fishing communities to facilitate the transition of fisheries and ocean policies to one that is community-based and driven yet grounded in ecological and conservation principles and the market for local seafood and establishing Community Sustained Fisheries (CSFs).  For over a decade, NAMA has proven that collaboration can unearth knowledge otherwise buried, or even worse, dismissed.  The outcomes of NAMA’s efforts are critical reports, analysis and documentations that outline what fishermen, scientists and environmentalists know.  Sharing the Ocean is a history of the processes NAMA undertook to bring forth information and offer common sense, ecologically-based solutions to persistent problems plaguing the marine environment and the communities that rely on it for their livelihood.