2-channel video installation, 20'
The Yellow is Cooking, the White is Eating (1998) continues the artists’ thematic addressing of the “clash of civilizations” between East and West, particularly the irrational fear of the “yellow peril” as introduced to Russia by the late nineteenth-century poem “Panmongolism” by the philosopher Vladimir Solovyov. A synchronized, two-channel video installation, the work depicts on the first screen a Chinese chef busy at work in the kitchen of a Moscow restaurant called The Golden Dragon, with cuisine providing the trepidatious interlocutor a safe space for interaction with the Other; on the second screen, positioned opposite the first, a white customer with the appearance of a businessman ravenously consumes multiple Chinese dishes arranged on a large revolving tray. The video collapses the time gap between the preparation and the consumption of the food, with the new simultaneity of the two formerly mundane processes placing the viewer in the position of a witness to an unlikely, wordless, intractable duel.
However, this project presents the conflict between figures of the “East” and “West” in economic not cultural terms (as in Islamic Project), as the chef and the patron model of economic production and consumption represent their roles in the global economy—as China produces, the West consumes. Yet, this tense encounter driven by the would-be dominant and purported “masculine” gaze of the Western figure in this economic dyad stylistically undermines assumed positions of master and slave. The Chinese chef, holding a knife, comes to constitute the phallic element, while the white man’s open, consuming orifice confirms him as the female, vulnerable part.
The Yellow is Cooking, the White is Eating was first shown at the TV Gallery in Moscow in 1998, then at the Russian State Museum in 2007 for an AES+F retrospective, and finally was included in a group show at the Triumph Gallery in Moscow in 2020 entitled State of Emergency.