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Listening to Lisa Myers and Autumn Chacon cook at the AGO

Sue Carter Flinn

Autumn Chacon and the sound of avocados

Last night’s packed-out reception for Lisa Myers and Autumn Chacon’s Toronto Now exhibition at the Art Gallery of Ontario took on the air of a kitchen party, thanks to the chef’s table in the middle of room, covered in utensils and bowls of produce. But once the two artists started cooking, the chatter turned quiet as the room filled with odd, metallic sounds.

All their kitchen utensils were attached to contact microphones, amplifying the sounds of preparing a meal, from scraping avocados to peeling carrots. When Myers, who is also a chef, expertly sliced up an onion, the audio landed somewhere between industrial and organic – almost a rhythmic heartbeat.

There was a subtle musicality to the repetitive sounds produced by the pair, no surprise considering Myers, who lives in Toronto, is also a musician and Chacon, who hails from New Mexico, is a performance artist. But beyond the amplified sound of making guacamole, last night reminded me how much I love watching someone else cook – even sandwiches taste better when someone else removes the crusts. There’s such anticipation and memory around the ritual of preparing food (and what the microwave generations have lost), even the simple act of chopping and stirring can pull you into the past.

The exhibition, which runs until Oct. 28, is part of Planet IndigenUS a festival of indigenous culture taking place in Toronto and Brantford from Aug. 10–19. Videos of Myers and Chacon’s collaboration are on display in AGO’s Young Gallery, which, appropriately enough, can be accessed through Frank restaurant.

Take away: If you want to listen to music created entirely with food and food-related products, check out U.K. electronic artist Matthew Herbert’s album Plat du Jour.

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