Go Deeper

Waiting for Friday’s Free Pizza Proposition Tent

Posted July 31st, 2013

As I teeth on a luke-warm piece of triangular leather from around the corner, my faith in dough and cheese wanes. I know full well that I should have waited until Friday. This month’s Proposition Tent, like the swamp where I obtained this terrible excuse for a slice, is right around the corner on August 2nd. There, I will be able to lick my wounds among a range of compelling pizza ideas rooted in local Philly neighborhoods, the international stage, and of course, free quality eats. From the hours of 5:30 to 7:30pm at Race Street Pier, North Columbus Boulevard, we will at last be privy the euphoria of the big red tent, gorging on propositions from Philly artist Salem Collo-Julin and San Francisco-based artist team Futurefarmers, along with a statement from Kyp Malone of TV on the Radio that will offer a denser conceptual profundity to the pie and cost-free treats from pizza museum and restaurant Pizza Brain. In all the anticipation, FringeArts had to get a hold of Futurefarmers’s Amy Franceschini to get the scoop on their project for the Tent, The Oven that Feeds Itself and Others.

FNAR_futurefarmFringeArts: What is Futurefarmers?

Amy Franceschini: Futurefarmers is a group of diverse practitioners aligned through an open practice of making work that is relevant to the time and place surrounding us. We are artists, graphic designers, architects, computer programmers, scientists, and farmers with a common interest in creating frameworks for exchange that catalyze moments of “not knowing.”

Through participatory projects, we create spaces and experiences where the logic of a situation disappears–encounters occur that broaden perspectives. We use various media to create work that has the potential to destabilize logics of “certainty.” For example, we have deconstructed systems such as food policies, public transportation, and rural farming networks to visualize and understand their intrinsic logics. Through this disassembly, we find new narratives and potential reconfigurations that propose alternatives to the principles that once dominated these systems. Our work provides a playful entry point and tools for participants to gain insight into deeper fields of inquiry—not only to imagine, but also to participate in and initiate change in the places we live.

Collectively, we teach in the visual arts graduate programs at California College of the Arts in San Francisco, Mills College in Oakland, California, and the joint masters program of art and engineering at Stanford University.

FringeArts: How did it get started?

Amy Franceschini: Futurefarmers began as a design studio that served as a platform to support art projects, an artist in residence program, and our research interests. The name stems from my personal background of living on farms as a child. My parents were both engaged in farming, but from very different perspectives. My father was a large-scale farmer who owned a pesticide company and grew commodity crops while my mother was a small-scale, organic farmer and activist fighting against the use of pesticides. Needless to say, they are no longer married . . . But, jumping between these two farming practices I saw a broad spectrum of what it meant to grow food—by whom, for whom, and the power structures that dominate the field both big and small.

FringeArts: Could you give us a run down of the project that Futurefarmers will be presenting at the Tent?

Amy Franceschini: The project for the Tent is a proposal for a pizza oven made from bricks made from crushed and re-fired porcelain toilets. The project has several layers. One is simply dealing with the idea of re-imagining the toilet. This is a utility that we interact with in our daily life. I like to use the Don Quixote quote, “Let’s make efficiencies out of inefficiencies.” The act of crushing the toilet is a deconstruction of a poorly designed, over consuming system. Flushing five gallons of fresh water down the toilet several times a day just does not make sense. Architect Sim Van der Ryn puts it quite nicely in his book, The Toilet Papers: Recycling Waste and Conserving Water.


The Oven that Feeds Itself and Others

The Oven that Feeds Itself and Others

FringeArts: How did you come up with this idea?

Amy Franceschini: The toilet represents the many systems dominating our everyday lives that need to be retooled. The act of shifting the toilet to a brick distills this idea into a basic human building block that can be used to reform, rebuild, and re-imagine new systems.

FringeArts: Why pizza from toilets?

Amy Franceschini: To build an oven from these bricks creates an immediate connection to our human history and relation to fire and grains. The oven does not have to be a pizza oven, but its first iteration was imagined to be in New York City, so it seemed appropriate to link to the pizza culture there. The oven is another essential utility that expresses itself in our daily life and to build it from bricks made from toilets rescued from the waste stream provides an entry point into many conversations about production, consumption, and how we organize our lives. Jean Francois Blanchette expresses this beautifully, “Far from being simply an object, the bread oven reflects a technique, a physical environment, a standard of living, a spatial organization, indeed a whole a way of life. It reveals a great deal about the perceptual and conceptual schemes of the people using it. The oven may therefore be considered a total cultural fact.”

Thanks, Amy! Can’t wait!

PIZZA at the Proposition Tent
First Friday August 2, 5:30–7:30pm
Location: Race Street Pier on N. Columbus Blvd.

–Maya Beale