Sunday, September 14, 2014

Manna From Heaven

What did it look like and taste like, this manna from heaven? Artists have depicted everything from flat wafers to doughy pellets. Artists have shown the manna falling like a rain shower and like a thunderstorm (and when they include the quail descending it's sometimes hard to tell if they are depicting God's plan for food or one of the plagues!).

In 2013, artists Han Zhang and Helen Yung interpreted the story of this heavenly food (Exodus 16:2-15) using paper and calligraphy. "Like Manna from Heaven" was created at the Culture of Cities Centre in Toronto. Inspired by a Chinese expression that literally translates "pie from the sky" and means "free and delicious food falling from heaven", the artists calligraphied poems about food on rice paper. The paper was then cut to create three-dimensional forms reminiscent of baskets, nets and other containers.  These forms were suspended so that they might, indeed, fall from heaven.

Viewers became creators by writing or drawing their own idea of "manna" on rice paper. They then attached their contributions in, among and through the artist-created pieces of the installation. 

The installation was part of the first Future Food Salon event of 2013. The event, "Crickets on the Tip of Your Tongue", raised the question of what we might be eating in the coming decades. Bugs (like crickets) are considered one of the ideal foods of the future as they are a sustainable protein source that can live in many climatic zones. If they were uncertain about manna, what would Moses and the people say about the evening's variety of cricket canapes?!

For the Future Food Salon: Crickets on the Tip of Your Tongue, see:
For Helen Yung, see:
For Han Zhang, see:

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