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Jennifer Rubell: Expanding The Definition

The classically trained chef, food writer, and artist talks about a life defined by a love of food and the creative relationships engendered by it.

After receiving an Ivy-League education at Harvard University, Jennifer Rubell turned towards food and was trained as a chef at the Culinary Institute of America. “I never had the intention to be a chef,” she says. “I just wanted to know how to butcher a cow or how to make a hollandaise sauce. To me it is very important to have a total mastery of the material, so that I have a understanding of it in every possible way – intellectually, conceptually, but also physically.” But instead of taking her skills and applying them directly to the kitchen, Jennifer began to write about food. For fifteen years, she penned columns for the Miami Herald and Domino Magazine until she ultimately decided to pursue art. “I was interested in food, and I was interested in art,' she says. 'There’s no place in the food world that you can really engage with food in the fundamentally conceptual way that I am interested in. It was only because of artists like Rirkrit Tiravanija, Felix Gonzales-Torres, and Gordon Matta-Clark that came before me that I found that possibility.” Rubell's work is often staggering in scale and sensually arresting, frequently employing food and drink as media. For example, imagine one ton of ribs dripping with honey hanging from the ceiling; two thousand hard-boiled eggs with a pile of latex gloves nearby to pick them up; 1,521 doughnuts hanging on a free-standing wall; or a room-sized cell padded with eighteen hundred cones of pink cotton candy.

jenniferrubell Still from my film for London show in September

Visitors of her installations are encouraged to partake in her work, violating the traditional boundaries of art institutions and engaging senses usually forbidden in or absent from museum and gallery contexts. Since 2001, Jennifer Rubell has been responsible for a yearly breakfast project held in the courtyard of the Rubell Family Collection in Miami during Art Basel Miami Beach. In her latest breakfast installation, Incubation, she explored the creative act while addressing the creation of food, life, and art.

The artist/chef talks about a life defined by a love of food and the creative relationships engendered by it.