Food, food culture, food as culture and the cultures that grow our food

Michel Blazy’s microbial art

December 18, 2008

Michel Blazy's Jus de Nympheas at the Entrep├┤ts Bellevue - Greenhouse, Saint-├?tienne, Debra Solomon, culiblog.org
A pond of fermenting tea with fungal lily pads

The lacto-fermentation of cabbage wasn’t the only kind of microbial art and design going down in St. Etienne at last month’s biennial. Michel Blazy created a most beautiful live installation of Givernyesque pools of living kombucha colonies. For those not yet in the know, kombucha is a fermented tea, that folks east of Caucasus can’t get enough of. It’s made with a fungus that imparts such special health-giving properties that kombucha enthusiasts call it the ‘elixir of life’. Kombucha is a slightly soured, bubbly, probiotic drink.

Michel Blazy's Jus de Nympheas at the Entrep├┤ts Bellevue - Greenhouse, Saint-├?tienne, Debra Solomon, culiblog.org
Blazy’s reflective pools conjure microbial Monet
Claude Monet's 'Nympheas' at the Museum Marmottan, Paris
As a point of reference, Claude Monet’s ‘Nympheas’ at the Museum Marmottan in Paris, image obviously used without permission

Michel Blazy is a French artist whose sculptures and installations are process-based interactions between food materials and the direct environment. In the Palais de Tokyo in 2007 Blazy produced an aesthetically charged installation using sprouted lentils, yoghurt wallpaper and enormous pasta sculptures. Blazy’s work is sensually humorous but demonstrates a masterful materials synergy - productively harnessing the natural properties of foods and organisms. Think Roman Signer and Olafur Eliasson, but then with foods.

Michel Blazy's Jus de Nympheas at the Entrep├┤ts Bellevue - Greenhouse, Saint-├?tienne, Debra Solomon, culiblog.org
Growing kombucha fungi on a pond of green tea

For the ‘off-biennial’ venue of the Entrep˘ts Bellevue in St. Etienne, Blazy and his team made giant pools of tea which they fermented with a rainbow array of gelatinous lily pads, rubbery, macroscopic fungal colonies that lent the ponds their healthful properties and a bit of bubble. Thinking the 1% alcoholic content might not be sufficiently festive for a vernissage, Blazy spiked his kombucha tea with celebratory shots of vodka and the atmosphere at the Entrep˘ts Bellevue was magic.

Michel Blazy's Jus de Nympheas at the Entrep├┤ts Bellevue - Greenhouse, Saint-├?tienne, Debra Solomon, culiblog.org
Pondering the depths, ‘Is it a pond or a pad?’

Michel Blazy's Jus de Nympheas at the Entrep├┤ts Bellevue - Greenhouse, Saint-├?tienne, Debra Solomon, culiblog.org
Blazy’s multicoloured spent tea bags
Michel Blazy's Jus de Nympheas at the Entrep├┤ts Bellevue - Greenhouse, Saint-├?tienne, Debra Solomon, culiblog.org
A greenhouse incubating kombucha offspring
Michel Blazy's Jus de Nympheas at the Entrep├┤ts Bellevue - Greenhouse, Saint-├?tienne, Debra Solomon, culiblog.org
Master of mothers, Blazy tends to his colonies

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