“These are photos from Acquired Taste, a project I did at Essex Market with Cuchifritos just before the pandemic. The cooking workshop was a vehicle to get strangers together and maybe have a chance to connect through making a meal. Based on a large degree of randomness, the goal was to make people spend time with each other. The most important component was to have a space to share stories. There was food, because we all need to eat, and also the opportunity to think about the meaning of what we’re eating. What does food mean for this individual? What is the relationship between access, labor, privilege, and identity for every meal we eat?
The months that have passed since March feel like years. They have shone a light on systemic inequalities, racism, indifference to essential workers, and disaster capitalism looming. They also reveal a never-more-urgent need for people to come together, create new ways to connect, and a call for citizens’ courageous organizing to develop alternatives and more just conditions for all.
I don’t know what’s coming, and I wonder how things will be once social distancing is over. I am looking forward to the experience of seeing many people interacting within the same space without masks on, and—perhaps, too—with more acute regard for the new truths the pandemic has revealed. I hope to cook again with friends and strangers, notice their reactions with all my senses, and without the aid/interruption of a screen. Meanwhile, until that time comes—and while I need Demosthenes’ skills and delivery to work around the face mask—I will be sure to slow down my walk, make sure my eyes are available for contact, and allow my ears to be prone to listen.
Manuel Molina Martagon is a multidisciplinary artist working in performance, video, and socially engaged projects. Molina Martagon holds an MFA in Photography, Video and Related Media from the School of Visual Arts in New York, and an MFA in Creative Writing in Spanish from New York University. His work has been exhibited in Mexico, Spain, China, Cuba, and the United States in institutions such as the Institute of Contemporary Art in Philadelphia and the Art Museum of the Americas in DC.
In previous projects, he has used food as a vehicle to engage in a multisensorial dialogue reaching out to current topics such as immigration, labor, tradition, and access. Molina Martagon has developed socially engaged projects in New York related to the food and service industry.
Molina Martagon has also been a recipient of multiple international awards and grants, such as Fulbright-García Robles, CONACYT (Consejo Nacional Ciencia y Tecnología), Alice Beck Odette Grant, and PECDAP (Programa de Estímulo a la Creación y Desarrollo Artístico de Puebla). Since his arrival to New York, he has been a constant collaborator with the New New Yorkers program at the Queens Museum. He participated at EMERGENYC with the Hemispheric Institute in 2014. In 2018 Molina Martagon organized EL RECREO at Recess and was a recipient of More Art’s Engaging Artist fellowship. He is a Fulbright recipient.