This one kind of goes two ways. In one sense, my relationship to making food or watching food-related content like MasterChef is a literal break from the art world. Burn out is no joke, and finding ways to rejuvenate outside of thinking about art is incredibly important, and MasterChef totally delivers on that front. But if I really wanted to torture a metaphor, there is something about MasterChef Australia that’s actually really close to the ways I think about curating, and kind of an encouraging model for the kind of work I like doing and seeing in the art world.
The food-art connection for me probably goes back to @curatorsgottoeat, an Instagram account run by Alexie Glass-Kantor, who, among other things, curated the Australian pavilion at Venice this year. I was introduced to the account when I was at the ICI Auckland Curatorial Intensive in 2019. Our cohort was having dinner at Samwoo Vietnamese Cafe in Ōtāhuhu, sitting at a long table, and someone showed me the account because it was a mirror of what we were doing—sitting at the table together and sharing a meal. Curators gotta eat after all.
MasterChef is the big one for me, though. It used to be this really frenetic, cutthroat, and kind of mean show with the original judges. There’s this weird era of food reality television that was suffering from some kind of Simon Cowell hangover and thought that what people wanted to see was winners and losers and people getting taken down. But for MasterChef, once the new judges came in, it became a totally different show. There’s still process, development, execution. But it’s nicer, more caring and encouraging, with an emphasis on collaboration and growth. There’s still a critique process, but it’s constructive and about these people growing as makers. Honestly, if the art world was more like the last few seasons of MasterChef Australia, I reckon we’d be in a better spot.