Listen to this article
Director, Tate Modern
This week the London art gallery will open its new building, Switch House, which includes a restaurant and bar.
The Switch House offers dazzling new galleries and public spaces. The architects, Herzog & de Meuron, have worked with us for more than 20 years, since they were appointed to transform Sir Giles Gilbert Scott’s power station in 1996. The close dialogue between us can be felt in the details that brilliantly knit two such different structures together.
Tate Modern has always been about the people who visit. There are stereotypes about museum catering but I hope Tate Modern shows what’s possible in-house — we make our own chocolates, roast our own coffee, use honey from our own beehives and craft beer brewed down the road in Bermondsey.
At Switch House, we have been building the collection. You will find more international art, more art by women and great new installations.
tate.org.uk; opens June 17
Stefan von Bartha
Von Bartha Basel was founded 45 years ago by Margareta and Miklos von Bartha and is now run by their son Stefan. For the Art Basel show, the gallery is hosting a pop-up restaurant by Rhyschänzli.
Rhyschänzli is one of the coolest restaurants in town. It started small and now it’s a brand — their main restaurant is close to the gallery. A lot of artists go there; it’s cosy and relaxing, not too chic. You can call at 10pm and say you need a table for 30 people and they make it happen.
For our pop-up we have their youngest chef Lothi — he has long hair, tattoos and he’s insane. He has fun ideas, such as a foie gras brioche burger. We’ll also have great Swiss cheeses and meats, and a selection of regional ingredients such as asparagus.
There will be a huge wall painting by Bob & Roberta Smith, and some artists will do performances too.
June 14-18, 7pm until late; email@example.com; +41 76 389 68 18; Entenweidstrasse 10, CH-4056 Basel
Mark Hix opened the restaurant Pharmacy 2 with Damien Hirst in February at the artist’s Newport Street Gallery, London. (The first Pharmacy closed in 2003; its contents were later sold by Sotheby’s for £11.1m.)
I’ve dabbled in the art world for quite some time, eating, drinking, partying. I collaborate with artist friends on my restaurants; for example, Damien’s piece “Cock and Bull” [a pickled cockerel and cow] at the Tramshed. I didn’t realise the sculpture I asked for would be a tank full of formaldehyde.
I was riding my scooter in Mayfair one day when I saw Damien sitting outside Scott’s. He said, “Do you know any chefs for the new Pharmacy?” so I proposed a collaboration.
The food is Hix with a twist. Damien likes chips and curry sauce so that’s on the menu. The interior is crazy, very Damien. If you pick an artist to open a restaurant it has to reflect what’s going on in their head — Pharmacy 2 is not bland.
The British artist is one of a group of artists, including Anselm Kiefer and Robert Wilson, who are showing works in Tuscan vineyards this summer as part of “The Art of the Treasure Hunt”.
When Luziah Hennessy, the organiser, approached me to be part of this show, I thought it was a novel idea. I didn’t know there was a community of contemporary art collectors in the Chianti vineyards. When I visited I was astounded by the passion for wine. Those winemakers are artists too.
I wanted to install works that would have some correlation to the surroundings. I was excited by Luziah’s theme of illumination, and I have placed several light-box works in the winery itself at Colle Bereto. One piece is about migrants coming from the north of Africa to the south of Italy.
I tasted Bereto’s 2009 Chianti and it was astonishing; I’m hoping to become more of a connoisseur.
July 1-October 30; artthunt.com
Artist and gallerist
Saro-Wiwa is founder of the Boys’ Quarter Gallery, Port Harcourt, Nigeria. This summer, she is dedicating a London exhibition to cultural narratives around the pineapple.
Over the past three years I’ve become obsessed with pineapples. The first artwork I made about it is in the show. It is a pineapple being mutilated.
I am trying to figure out why this fruit has enchanted me and many other people today and in history. The fashion and design worlds have long had a fascination with it. My feeling is that the pineapple is communicating with us but we are not listening to what it has to say.
I wanted to make sure the intellectual considerations of the impact of the pineapple were as varied as possible. I also wanted to make sure it was not too dark and masochistic, or anywhere approaching kitsch.
The etymology of the English word “pineapple” is quite politically charged. British imperialists apparently refused to use the Brazilian Indian Tupi root of the word which is ananas. I think the inclusion of the word “apple” is interesting and the relationship between the pineapple and apple is endlessly fascinating. Both are seen as the fruit of the garden of Eden. But two very different Edens.
At moments in history the pineapple was seen and described as the“king of fruits”and then it transmuted to the “queen of fruits”. That shift fascinates me. The idea of sweetness being “feminine” deserves examination.
When I was looking for “pineapple artists”, I would slip them a simple question: “How do you feel about pineapples?” Some people thought I was mad but those that would go quiet or laugh then launch into a story — I knew they were pineapple people.
The pineapple is a binding agent. It has a particular smell and taste. Both these things are connected profoundly to memory. One of the artists in the show is a performance artist called Ian Deleon who has long worked with pineapples. He is half-Brazilian and half-Cuban and he connected with the way pineapples have been farmed using exploitative labour practices in the Caribbean.
Nigerian artist Temitayo Ogunbiyi is also a pineapple person. She immediately proposed doing a series of works that fused hair and pineapples. In Nigeria, there are a few hairstyles inspired by the pineapple. I think that Afro hair and the crown of the pineapple have so much in common, sticking up and announcing their difference.
What is so interesting is the way the pineapple combines positive and negative: beauty and prickliness in one fruit. After the banana, it is the single most consumed tropical fruit. It is the most unique looking, I think, and it touches on so many aspects of human life and history. It’s extraordinary.
“The Pineapple Show”, at Tiwani Contemporary, London, July 8-August 13; tiwani.co.uk
Director, Delfina Foundation
The London-based foundation is running a programme of artistic events on the theme of the politics of food.
Artists have an ability to think about future scenarios and this year we are looking at markets and movements — labour, migration, biotech, food sovereignty. The artist duo Cooking Sections discovered a plan, never realised, by the British Empire Marketing Board to promote food from the colonies with “empire shops” in the UK.
Their contemporary version, the Empire Remains Shop, evokes the former British colonies and the process of decolonising. In India, for instance, where the British planted lantana to demarcate property boundaries, a tribe is creating furniture from the plant, which will be shown in the shop.
Empire Remains Shop, 91-93 Baker Street, London, opens in August.
“The Politics of Food, Markets and Movements”, July-September; delfinafoundation.com
Illustrations by Marie Assénat
Photographs: Hugo Glendinning; von Bartha; Getty; Felix Clay