Conservation of edible organic material as an art object
Santa Comida, Miralda
In several of Antoni Miralda’s installations, food plays an important role and becomes a means of artistic expression.
Santa Comida is a multidisciplinary work, somewhere between a happening and a participatory installation, that is based on Yoruba-Christian syncretism and the role of food and offerings in relation to different divinities.
Almost all offerings of food that accompany each of the deities around the shrines are characteristic of Afro-Latino culture and are bought in specialised shops and supermarkets. These products are used to decorate the shrines from the moment the installation opens to the public and have to be replaced before they begin to decompose.
Keeping these amounts of foodstuffs in good condition in an exhibition space forces us to look for alternatives to minimise expense, maintenance and the adverse effects on nearby works. The presence of food in the installation required us to carry out a study in order to keep the exhibited products in good condition for as long as possible: it was necessary to apply a fungicidal, bactericidal and insecticidal agent that was harmless to human health. Essential oils seemed a good option.
There are several studies that demonstrate the effectiveness of certain essential oils, such as bactericides, fungicides and insecticides. For this reason, these products are increasingly used in the food, pharmaceutical and natural-medicine industries.
A study of the environmental bacterial and fungal activity showed that this activity, limited to Bacillus subtilis and Penicillium rugulosum, proved to be equal to or less than that detected in other spaces in the Museum, where microbiological activity levels were within the normal range for a public space.
The use of essential oils such as cinnamon, cloves, thyme and lavender, as well as clove spice, prolonged the preservation of certain foods present in the installation.