By Alexandra Warren
The ultimate spendthrift Marie Antoinette and scruffy students might not seem to have much in common, but they do appear to share a motto: “Let them eat cake”.
Four students of Goldsmiths College, in New Cross, have banded together to protest against food waste in an art installation – by making it into cupcakes.
The piece, by Spanish-Welsh artist Rafael Pérez Evans, consists of 29 tonnes of carrots dumped outside a glass university building, as a comment on the tension between the city and the countryside.
But even though they say that carrots help you see in the dark, they apparently don’t enable you to tell the difference between your art and your elbow.
Students have called the artwork tasteless for wasting food in a time that’s been so difficult for many, and a few have taken matters into their own hands.
Nancy Violet O’Brien and her flatmates have set up a stall next to the installation to raise money for local food banks, selling carrot cake and soup made from the pile of vegetables.
Ms O’Brien said: “More than 40 per cent of children in Lewisham live below the poverty line, and to dump this amount of usable food that humans could eat in an area that is suffering from that does seem not just in bad taste, but actually actively harmful.
“We’re not separate from Lewisham, we are it, and if we’re in a position of privilege to a large extent then we’ve got to recognise that but also not see ourselves as separate from the community.”
A sign next to the carrots reads “Not for human consumption” but the bakers have put up their own, asking “Says who?”
The students have raised £1,604.46 and plan to share the money with local food banks, including the Trussell Trust.
All of the food is vegan and is being sold at a “pay what you can” price.
The baking quartet have also set up an Instagram account, @goldsmithscarrots, which now has more than 4,000 followers.
Posts include recipes they’ve used, the total amount of money raised and reposts of other students’ dishes made from the veggies.
Mr Pérez Evans claims the carrots have been rejected by UK supermarkets and they will be collected and sent to feed animals once the exhibition is finished.
The installation aims to show the gap between our modern city lives and food production, by placing the vegetables next to a glass building.
It is inspired by so-called “dumping protests” done by European farmers, who disrupt cities with their devalued crops as a demonstration against central governments.
Pérez Evans’ website says: “The city is a site that suffers from food, plant and soil blindness, a place hyper separated from its periphery, its food and its labourers.
“Dumping protests bring blinded city people into an alarming contact with their forgotten foods and its production.
“This site-specific intervention offers itself as a sculptural exercise in grounding, ‘bringing back to earth’ some of the dissociative and opaque practices of the metropolis and the university industrial complex.”
The artist has not responded for a request for comment.
Pictured: Nancy Violet O’Brien in the art installation Grounding (Picture: PA)
Please support your local paper by making a donation
Please make cheques payable to “MSI Media Limited” and send by post to South London Press, Unit 112, 160 Bromley Road, Catford, London SE6 2NZ
Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick has encouraged everyone in the country who can afford to do so to buy a newspaper, and told the Downing Street press briefing recently: “A free country needs a free press, and the newspapers of our country are under significant financial pressure”.
So if you have enjoyed reading this story, and if you can afford to do so, we would be so grateful if you can buy our newspaper or make a donation, which will allow us to continue to bring stories like this one to you both in print and online.