Happening at Saraga Market, an international grocery store full of amazing color and variety, this one-day educational and cultural event organized by internationally known artist Harrell Fletcher as part of Big Car's "Made for Each Other" community art series, will feature cooking demonstrations and food sampling from different nations represented in the store. Also, docent-led tours of cultures represented, talking about their traditions, geographical information, and more will happen. Translators wil be provided whenever possible. Dancers and musicians from the represented countries will perform. This will be a fun way to learn about history, traditions, geography, etc. through the lens of food.
Made for Each Other (MFEO) is a series of eight community art projects taking place in neighborhoods across Indianapolis during 2009-2010. Organized by the Big Car creative collective under the guidance of curator Jim Walker, MFEO is social practice art—meaning that the projects are social, interactive and interpersonal in nature. This kind of art is about projects that involve, engage and help people and communities grow. Social practice art and MFEO are, in a nutshell, about people and place versus the creation of traditional art products.
Our projects in Indianapolis ask people from eight different neighborhoods to help create shows and events within the context of their neighborhoods. We bring neighbors together to help with the planning, creating and celebration of each project. MFEO happens in these areas: Near Eastside, Southeast, Martindale-Brightwood, Near West, West Indianapolis, Crooked Creek, the Binford Boulevard area, and Lafayette Square. MFEO partners include with the Indianapolis Museum of Art, the Indianapolis Museum of Contemporary Art, Susurrus, the Arts Council of Indianapolis, Herron School of Art, Hoosier Environmental Council, and Second Story.
The event at Saraga is the MFEO project for the Lafayette Square neighborhood. We've met with neighbors there and they identified making connections between people from the wide variety of cultures who live, work and shop in the neighborhood. Saraga is the best hub in the neighborhood—and arguably in Indianapolis—for bringing people of various backgrounds together. This international market sells food from all over the world with the Mexican food aisle next to the Asian food aisle next to the Indian food aisle next to the Middle Eastern food aisle. People of various nationalities work there. It's a melting pot in lots of ways. But many shoppers and even the workers there don't know much about the other cultures with aisles next to theirs. Native Hoosiers may know little about what the food is for on the shelves, or about the cultures. This project is about sharing this knowledge and bringing people from different cultures—including native Hoosiers—together through understanding and interaction.
The idea for doing the project at Saraga came during a visit late last year by social practice artist Harrell Fletcher. One of the leaders in this movement, Fletcher was in Indianapolis for a lecture at Herron School of Art. He is coordinating this event at Saraga as a social practice art project in conjunction with Jim Walker, Big Car and volunteer participants from Big Car, Herron, the Lafayette Square area community and Saraga workers. Fletcher is in communication with Big Car throughout the year and will return to Indianapolis in November to be part of the project during Spirit & Place.
The exact details are still somewhat in flux because Big Car artists will be consulting with Saraga workers, customers and neighbors from the area in upcoming months to help the project take shape. But the idea is that cooking demonstrations will happen at the end of the aisles with discussions there about food. We'll have cultural discussions about geography, traditions, etc. happen at the other end of aisles. These discussions and demonstrations—with the help of translators as needed—will be led by workers at Saraga. Elsewhere in the market—it is a big place—we may also have musical or dance performances representing the different cultures. These will come from contacts within Saraga and the neighborhood. We will likely also provide docents who are experts in international culture to lead tours from aisle to aisle throughout the store. Again, the exact workings are still taking shape through the collaboration of Fletcher, Big Car, Herron and the neighborhood.