The naturalist E.O. Wilson, believes that by the end of this century—in our lifetimes, we will lose half of all plants, animals and birds on our planet, if our current rate of ecological destruction continues. The Endangered Species Recipe Book, considers ways to view our ecological moment in the context of our historic interactions with the natural world.
Six major extinction events are chronicled in Earth’s geologic history. These events have occurred over the past 450 million years and typically span periods of tens of thousands of years. We are currently living through the Sixth Great Extinction. Never before has a major extinction event happened this rapidly, and never before has it been caused by a single species, but this one is driven almost exclusively by human actions.
The Endangered Species Recipe Book, considers ways to view our ecological moment in the context of our historic interactions with the natural world. A collaboration between the artists Elizabeth Demaray and Hugo Bastidas, this project utilizes historic illustrations, photographs, text that relate to the cooking and preparation of species now endangered or extinct. The resulting works on paper is series of oil paintings. Each painting depicts a lost species along with an excerpt from one of the historic recipes that us humans have used to cook and eat the animal. These individual works are titled with the name of the animal’s species and hung as a group, salon style. The installation is accompanied by wall text that allow viewers to look up each animals colloquial name, and full recipe in English (some of the text depicted is in the recipe’s native language). While the series may not initially resemble a book, Bastidas and Demaray consider each work on paper to be a page in an ever expanding volume dedicated to human consumption.
Two oil painting on paper from the series are pictured below.
The Caribbean Monk Seal The recipe for the heart of the Caribbean Monk Seal (last seen at Serranilla Bank between Honduras and Jamaica in 1952) reads:
“Un corazón de foca grande
1 c. Migas de pan o arroz cocido
1 cdta. perejil
1/2 cdta. salvia
1/2 cucharadita de sal
1/4 cdta. pimienta
2 cdas. Cebolla en escamas, ablandadas en agua tibia
Las rebanadas de tocino
2 cdas. mantequilla derretida
- Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Place the roast into the hot oil and cook, turning frequently, until browned on all sides. Remove from the skillet and place in a slow cooker.
- Cook onions and salt in the skillet in the meat drippings until tender. Add the garlic and sauté for a few minutes. Stir in the salt and tomato sauce and heat through.
- Combine the sugar, flour, cocoa powder, chili powder, oregano, cumin, coriander, cinnamon, and orange zest; stir into the tomato sauce. Pour the tomato sauce over the roast in the slow cooker. Add potatoes, carrots and celery to the slow cooker.
Cover the slow cooker and cook on the low setting for 6 to 8 hours, or until meat is tender. Garnish with sliced almonds before serving.
The Great Auk on the other hand was often described as having large eggs and is paired with a recipe, dating from heavy Auk egg collecting, for Eggs With Brown Butter.
Two ounces of butter, on the point of browning,
Two eggs broken in a basin,
Pepper and salt,
One teaspoon of vinegar.
Information about the artists is below.
Ecuadorian-American painter, Hugo Bastidas, is renowned for his large-scale black and white paintings that span geographic and historic time-frames. Bastidas is represented by the Nohra Haime Gallery in New York City. His works are in numerous private and public collections worldwide. Born in Quito, Ecuador, Bastidas moved to the United States with his parents at the age of four. He received a B.F.A. from Rutgers University in New Jersey and M.F.A. from Hunter College in New York City. His art work can be seen at http://www.nohrahaimegallery.com/detailbio.php?id=8 and http://www.hugobastidas.com. Bastidas is an Associate Professor of Art at New Jersey City University, is an instructor at the Art Students League of New York and at the National Academy Museum and School in New York City. He is the recipient of a Fulbright Fellowship, a Pollock Krasner Foundation Grant and is a member of the National Academy in the United States.
Elizabeth Demaray is a visual artist who knits sweaters for plants, fabricates alternative forms of housing for land hermit crabs, and cultures lichen on the sides of skyscrapers in New York City. With the engineer Dr. Qingze Zou, she is currently creating the world’s first ever floraborgs, robotic supports for potted plants, which allow the plants to move freely in search of sunlight and water. Demaray is the recipient of the New York Foundation for the Arts NYFA Fellowship in Sculpture, the National Studio Award at the New York Museum of Modern Art, P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center and was the 2014 Featured Artist at “Welcome to the Anthropocene,” the National Symposium of the Association of Environmental Science Studies. Demaray is an Associate Professor of Fine Arts at Rutgers University Camden and is an Advisor in the Department of Engineering at Rutgers University New Brunswick. Her work can be seen at http://elizbethdemaray.org.