Installation View: UTA Artist Space, Atlanta GA

The Sweet Perfume of Leavened Earth

2023
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit, butter and line the base of two cake tins with baking parchment.
 
The artist turns the dial, worn with use so jams at 300.
Hands drag fat across cold metal, translucence crunch over the top.

Using a whisk, beat the butter and sugar together, the two strangers an unlikely meeting of grainy mass. Keep whisking until the frenzy of arm against saccharine lumps blur infrared, deep yellow flashing lightning to turn pale.
 
I remember thirsting for sweet
Clear juice boils to turn crystallic
Prising open grandma’s teeth
to find mealy mung beans mashed with a half nail of
Extreme Refinement
I poke my head into her cavemouth
and beg her to spit back out the specks
of sweetsalt I grow up to never eat.
Eggs spill their gelatine over butter
to add desireable fluff and shine. The whisk’s balloon drags bloodclouds into the fold that bloodrain into the sea. Above us there seems only sky /and cloud seeding; what is sacred must also weep.
Sometimes I see only inversion
sky and land / myths told by shadow
Devils dance with the deceased
Or no, just women, ruling darkness

Whisk again, half bag of flour. The other half ration for later.
 
With outstretched arms, tip your bowl into your tins, and watch the ribbons of batter submit to roundness. Bake in the centre of the oven to reach for the promise of cake.
 
– Thái Hà
After Jihyun Yun’s War Soup and a recipe for sponge cake.

Written for “An Unbearable Lightness Between Sky and Water”  a solo exhibition at Galerie Quynh.

Installation video: Galerie Quynh, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
The project was galvanized by the deep love for food and flavor, focusing first on gastronomic pleasure shared with loved ones, in a layered practice that begins with the making of cake. In the declining health of her late mother, Truong set out makingsourdough rolls to send to her who lived on the other side of thecountry in CA. The dough culture was made from the yeast off the flesh of the artist’s hands, infused with flavors her mother wouldfind comforting: mung bean with scallions, and fragrant orangeblossom and black sesame.
Food has been used as a tool symbolizing national pride and political ambitions. In the 18th century, recipes for American election cake and independence cake emerged. In Fruits of Empire, Shana Klein examines how food has been used throughout history to establish hierarchies of power, complimented by the field of environmental history, which analyzes agricultural control over land and people. In the 19th century still-life pictures of fruit and food created an air of inclusivity, created by a spectrum of artists, who were prohibited from working in the genre of history painting, still reserved for typically white, male artists of the time.
Taste can trigger specific memories from one’s life, incite nostalgia and with seemingly innate sensory pleasure, and of belonging and home. Contemporary food scholars have established food as a critical site for the construction of identity. The paintings represent an aggregate of flavors and context. Each work starts with the making of a cake: in homage to a loved one, and an act of celebration for activist communities and those at the intersections. Cultural flavor is intrinsic to the bounty of a land, and the recipes are mindful of foods native to the North American region, in native cuisine; and/or whose flavor lineage is global. Cake is composed as food, as form, and as painting, using the genealogy of plants to create narrative paintings of cuisine. The works are installed over wall coverings created from color manipulated version of 18th century textile, Triumfa España en las Americas.