Annika Walsh is a transdisciplinary artist who was born in Chuzhou, China and adopted at 11 months of age by her family in Canada. She works with a variety of ingredients, materials, and collaborators to form her conceptual pieces. Her practice ranges from exploration of cultural identity to participatory food performances, and everything in between. Striving to blur the lines and push the boundaries, Annika makes a habit of traversing many disciplines, including sculptural installation, performance, and media.
Chinese Croquembouche (Nov. 2021)
This interactive sculpture puts a savoury twist on a classic french dessert. A croquembouche is a pastry cream stuffed choux pastry tower that is stuck together with sweet caramel. My version has a savoury chinese flavoured bean sprout and cabbage filling. For the caramel aspect, I created a concentrate of soy sauce, hoisin, rice vinegar, mushroom oyster sauce, garlic and ginger. I took that concentrate and mixed a bit of it into simmering maple syrup. I let this concoction bubble down into a hard ball caramel. With all of the new elements, I constructed the tower the day of reviewing. This piece requires activation and destruction in order for it to be “completed”. The rest of the art making happens through the deliberate action of the participants.
Congeegate (Dec. 2021)
I call this piece a performance because the focus is not about an art object. While this experience did involve objects (some crafted specifically for this piece), it is more about the notion of congregating and eating together. All of the elements were placed close to the ground, encouraging the participants to shift their attention down towards the floor. Things were placed in a linear fashion, with three distinct sections. The first was a bowl and spoon stand; the stand was made for this piece. The second station had a large pot containing congee (a rice porridge). This batch only had jasmine rice cooked down with water and salt. This base suggested a blank canvas in which participants could add their own preferences, putting more of themselves into the piece that was initially presented to them. Surrounding the pot was a handmade lazy susan that smoothly revolved around the pot. It held different toppings: tea eggs, spicy peanuts, green onions, oyster mushrooms, a Szechuan kelp mixture, and more. The last part of the installation was a pre-made lazy susan that held sauces and seasoning such as soy sauce, sesame oil, black vinegar, kosher salt and more. The stations were placed in the middle of my studio; surrounding the food were pillows, blankets and exercise mats. During this experience, everyone chatted while creating their bowls, and then went to sit down and eat.