Urbanophagy: Eating the City

The Urbanophagic Instinct

The Urbanophagic Gaze

Devorar Madrid

Eating the City, Melbourne

Gran Canariaphagy

Eat London

During one of the workshop sessions, in this case with the Vietnamese, an elderly woman was baking something in the oven. I asked her "What are you baking?" And! she answered me "I'm baking the parking lot!"

-Alicia Ríos, 'Eat Art and Communities: From Oxford to Melbourne' in Moving Wor(l)ds, 6.2, 2006, pp. 177-186.

Ali&Cia's Urbanophagy Ceremonies are a form of public performance art or interactive community theatre that entail the creation of an edible scale model of a locality by its inhabitants. Community members draw on their culinary traditions to interpret a part of the map, adopting an urbanophagic gaze in the search for poetic and metaphorical connections. Each section is constructed on a table of two by two metres and on the day they are all brought together in a choreographed procession incorporating music and dance that recalls age-old, universal celebratory practices such as ceremonial offerings, sacrifices and banquets. The resulting edible model is an eclectic landscape of cultural diversity and a utopian vision of social integration. After its presentation, the groups pull apart the gastronomic patchwork and the public is invited to participate in a collective catharsis that connects them both to their surroundings and to those with whom they share them. Beyond simply representing the integration of a city's different social groups, Urbanophagy Ceremonies enact this integration and claim the city for all of its citizens.

Alicia Ríos and Barbara Ortiz first developed the idea in 2003, in response to a commission by the City of Melbourne to create a work involving food and communities to celebrate the inauguration of Federation Square, the city's new public space and icon.

As part of the preparation of this event Ali&Cia staged Devorar Madrid, in which various collaborators assisted in the baking of the city of Madrid. This work was presented in the gallery Domestico '03 and eaten up by all who attended.

Subsequent to Eating the City, Melbourne, Ali&Cia were commissioned by COAC (Colegio Oficial de Arquitectos de Canarias) to produce Gran Canariaphagy, their first work of islaphagy.

Then, in 2007, Ali&Cia was commissioned by Lift, London International Festival of Theatre, to work with communities from East and Southeast London in the creation of Eat London. Eat London was awarded gold by Visit London for the best celebration of cultural diversity, 2007.

Essay by Alicia Rios

Eat Art and Communities: From Oxford to Melbourne(download pdf)

Moving Wor(l)ds, 6.2, 2006, pp. 117-186.


El arte comestible de Alicia Rios(download pdf)

Carlos Jiménez, art.es, nº 20, april/may 2007, pp. 103-106

Con la comida sí se juega(download pdf)

Itxaso Álvarez, El Correo, focus s, 20/5/2006, pp. 1-3.