Food Convenience Labor Luxury travels to California’s Central Valley, where the vast majority of U.S. produce is grown in a native desert irrigated with water acquired through political corruption, to a desolate military base in Wendover, Utah, where the Center for Land Use Interpretation supports artists attempting to reinvent life “at the end of the world,” to the largest U.S. tract of roadless wilderness in the state of Idaho. The artists’ goal is not to simply oppose “modern” or “advanced” industrial food systems with more “primitive” and localized practices, with the assumption that the latter is superior to the former, or more or less convenient. Rather, this video project is the artists’ meditation on sustainability, practicality, reproductive labor, creativity, economics, hidden costs, and the experience of time in the twenty-first century.
Food Convenience Labor Luxury is both a travel memoir and performance document contrasting industrial food infrastructure with the artists’ personal experimentations with slower, more primitive practices. City quick-marts, fast-food restaurants, military infrastructure, transportation highways, potato factories, and BigAg intertwine with foraging, D.I.Y. grey-water systems, slow-cooking with microbes, making meals from scratch, clearing land for gardens, working by hand, cooking with solar ovens, digging out forest springs, and more. This project is part of Nadir and Peppermint’s meditation on the fallibility of easy solutions to climate change and environmental injustice. Rather than proposing solutions to complex problems or casting judgment about which scenes as more or less sustainable or ethical, Food Convenience Labor Luxury acts as a question mark. It is the artists’ attempt to deal honestly with the contradictions of their lives–and modern life in general–as they move between city and country, between urban spaces where they earn a living and their rural retreat where they explore alternative practices but cannot financially sustain themselves. This video reflects the dilemma of many who care about food, environment, and sustainability: How to balance dependence upon convenient and wasteful industrial infrastructure while forging new paths that are not entirely practical in the context of demanding modern lives?