Part 2. Project 4. Shimabuku’s Cucumber Journey

My first task within this project is to read chapter ‘Room Seven: Itinerancy’ of the course set textbook with focus on the ‘Cucumber Journey’. I am to examine how time, place and journey have an impact on the work.

Firstly, even after having completed the initial module on contemporary art, I do not see how pickling vegetables whilst travelling on a canal is art. I just can’t wrap my head around it. Seriously, is this one of those questions that they post in newspapers as recruitment advertisements for Mi5?

  The last line on page 156 summed up for me the ludicrous nature of this as an item of art, ‘the pickles will begin a new journey in peoples bodies’. There is probably a school of thought that as the pickle is broken down by the bodies enzymes and turned into kinetic energy that we use that energy to plant crops of new cucumbers and so a cycle of life is complete. There is also a school of thought that the Earth is flat and magic is real, but, I will try…

  Time is of relevance to this piece because with the passing of time not only the location but the form of vegetable itself changes. As the canal boat travels from London to Birmingham so the cucumber travels from a fresh state to a pickled one. This is reminiscent of how people travel through life, fresh and ‘green’ as described by Dylan Thomas in ‘Fern Hill’ , and, with the passing of time as they complete lifes journey, they slowly pickle in a marinade of experience and outside influence until they die and are returned to the soil. (To fertilise new crops of cucumbers I have no doubt…). One could argue that if a pickled cucumber is what exists when the canal boat reaches Birmingham, was there ever a fresh cucumber in London? With each passing moment the cucumber steadily ages, in this case in an artificially speeded up process. This could be seen as a reflection of society today. We live in a consumerist culture where companies are concerned only about making money and stress related mental health issues are at their peak, are we all being pickled in the vinegar of our everyday lives? The only way I can see that Place would be of relevance is to reiterate that in each location the cucumber was in a different form? In London it was a fresh vegetable, in Birmingham it was a cucumber. During the journey of the canal boat so too was taking place the journey of the cucumber?

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