“Unapologetic Dinnerware: A Brief History Of Disposable Dinnerware”

. September 30, 2018.
WASARA (JAPAN), SHINICHIRO OGATA, 2013
WASARA (JAPAN), SHINICHIRO OGATA, 2013

“Unapologetic Dinnerware: a brief history of disposable dinnerware” opened on August 28 at the Kreft Gallery at Concordia University. Margaret Carney, who is both curator of the exhibit and director of the International Museum of Dinnerware Design (IMoDD), said this particular exhibition had been a long time coming. “I’ve been wanting to do this exhibition since we opened the museum.” IMoDD, which has done pop-up exhibitions throughout Washtenaw County since 2012, focuses on “the varied cultural and societal attitudes” related to all aspects of dining.

Millenia of Dishes

Unapologetic Dinnerware’s pieces span thousands of years, with the first dishes from Mesopotamia, followed by a conspicuously long gap until the medieval ages, with a solitary bread trencher in front of a scene that resembles Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. The rest of the exhibit focuses on a vast array of dinnerware from the 20th and 21st centuries, including posters of patents and prototypes.

The history of an often-overlooked part of day-to-day modern life is as surprising as it is informative. At times, the exhibit feels as anthropological as it is artistic, interweaving purposeful design with culture. The pieces come from Japan, Portugal, India, Germany, the United States, Malaysia, and a host of other nations. There are compostable dishes, single-use plastic dishes, ceramic dishes, paper dishes, edible cutlery, and six-pack rings, safe for marine life consumption.

When you walk into the gallery, the viewer’s eye is immediately drawn to a long table with six places, immaculately set. At each end, like a mother and father, are settings of the classic and timeless American dining table: Corning Ware and Lenox China. In between, are modern, vastly different, and varying levels of disposable flatware and cutlery. Across from plastic is bamboo, and across from wheat pulp is Chinet paper. The juxtaposition of disposable and non-disposable creates an understated discord. The entire installation is reminiscent of a family—a beautiful, and dysfunctional, family.

In the far back corner is an in situ installation of a mid-century dinner scene: Lassie on the TV Guide, and a Banquet TV dinner on its tray, dutifully stationed in front of a 1958 TV set. Along a wall at eye level is an assortment of disposable straws, each in its own clear highball glass: angled to the left, as if pointing to a piece of couture.

A Call to Question

The brilliance of Unapologetic Dinnerware is that the subject initially appears inconsequential, however pleasing to the eye. Yet the varied repetition of disposable dinnerware creates a subtle but persistent question: in an age of immediacy and convenience, how can dining become more environmentally conscious? This question is posed by each piece, both individually and as a whole exhibit, and chronicles the evolution from environmental expendability to environmental responsibility.

A Call to Action

The very title of the exhibition Makes the viewers consider how the idea of “expendable” relates to dining, especially in an age of climate change. The call to question then stirs a conviction to act: to become better informed and find better ways of discarding disposable dinnerware. Unapologetic Dinnerware adds activism to the dining experience.

Trending

Domino’s Farms Aids Ann Arbor’s Need for Office Space

Domino’s Pizza and Arbor Research are both launching new office building projects at Domino’s Farms. Domino’s Pizza is creating a 33,000-square-foot building on the north side of Domino’s Farms, expanding to their current space. Arbor Research is creating a new 49,500-square-foot headquarters building on the east side of Domino’s Farms. Both buildings should be completed

A Physician’s Perspective on Legalized Cannabis

On Tuesday, November 6th, Michigan became the 10th state to legalize cannabis for recreational use. Ten years ago, we had become the 13th state to legalize Cannabis for medical use. I voted for the medical cannabis law years ago because, in my view, cannabis is not a dangerous product, and too many people were being imprisoned for its use. At that time, however, I did not subscribe to the argument that there were legitimate medical uses for cannabis. How things have changed.

Tiny Expo at Ann Arbor District Library—A Curated Holiday Gift Fair with Flair

The Tiny Expo is a gem of an indie arts and crafts fair for vendors with original and unexpected products that make wonderful gifts but may not be an obvious fit for Ann Arbor’s mainstream art fairs. Shoppers who crave artistic, high quality products with diverse price points will find a rich variety of unique, handmade products to choose from.

New Tenants in Downtown Ypsilanti

Formerly long-vacant buildings in Downtown Ypsilanti are experiencing revitalization as small businesses and nonprofits are rapidly filling up spaces. Michigan Advocacy Program (MAP), a nonprofit organization that, “provides access to the justice systems for those that need it most,” recently purchased the Smith Furniture building at 15 S Washington Street which became their headquarters. Decode