Saturday, January 31, 2009

The Last Supper sponsored by Bertolli

ralf kwaaknijd, The Last Supper sponsored by Bertolli, 2009

The Last Supper sponsored by Bertolli (own work, 10 x 15 cm * mixed media * 2009)

My latest entry in the fantastic Saatchi online Showdown!!! (Rating so far: 6.65 out of 10, with 650 votes...) accompanied by the following postpostmodern explanation:

We see Christ breaking the bread for his apostles, with a reference to the Mount of Olives.

Upon closer inspection, we see that the table is made up of the Bertolli logo. In fact the whole artwork is created on the cover of a Bertolli margarine container. It raises questions, such as: if the Last Supper was enacted today, would there be live coverage from the media? Would it be sponsored for instance by a large margarine producer, under condition that the bread be buttered in prominent view on TV?

This art work is a postpostmodern critique on postmodernism, both in society and more specifically the contemporary art scene. Once again, the size is deliberately small, to underline the absurdity of the fashionable large sizes in contemporary art. Moreover, the advertising and sponsoring by large commercial players has become a trend for which e.g. a gallery like Saatchi's is not ashamed. Art, religion, money, power, advertising, business...are all increasingly entwined. `Father forgive them for they know not what they do.' Bon appetit!

I came across an interesting related post on Carlo Albertoli's blog my latest supper:

a public utility post
last sunday the monthly food magazine that comes with the observer was completely dedicated to italian food.

i will forgive the fact that it used all those worn out clich├ęs you can expect in these occasions: mafia jokes? check
happy families around table? check
pictures of smiling old peasants? check
tuscan villas? check
"insert_name_of_region" the new tuscany? check
etc..? check

i will forgive the fact that the food of northern italy was completely ignored. there's no way you can paint a complete picture of italian food by ignoring the wealth of flavours and wines that come from piedmont in general and the langhe in particular.
no way.

i will forgive all of the above because nowadays i'm older and wiser and more tolerant.
*much* more tolerant.

what i will not forgive though is that the whole of the issue was sponsored by bertolli, which presents its oil as the quintessentially italian product of a quintessentially italian family run producer of centuries old tradition.

the present owners bought the bertolli *brand* in 1994 from the holding company which owned it. just the brand. not the production plants. not the family estate because it never existed in the first place.

moreover, bertolli only packs and resells oil it buys from various sources: not less than 80% comes from spain, greece, turkey, tunisia ( all the big "italian" brands out there - berio, carapelli, carli, sasso etc.. - do the same).

it's not a scam, it is perfectly legal and perfectly detectable: check the bottle and you will see that it only says "packed in italy".

so, next time you want to buy extra virgin olive oil steer clear from the big italian brands: they just add a premium on the greek oil you find on the same shelf at a cheaper price.

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