Lei Saito is a Japanese artist who has lived and worked in Paris since 2003. She graduated from the École nationale supérieure des beaux-arts de Paris, where she joined Annette Messager’s studio. Lei Saito is interested in history, in narratives that are superimposed in layers, which she explores through different techniques, such as drawing, photoengraving, sculpture, photography, and installations.
Very early in her practice, she developed a series of performances and culinary installations – the “existential kitchen” – which she presented notably at the Centre Pompidou, and during collaborations with the Riga Biennial, or with the École des mines, Paris, the Hartung Bergman Foundation, Antibes, the Palais deTokyo, Paris, at 104, Paris, and at the Abattoirs de Toulouse.
She creates “decapitated” pastries dressed in raspberry coulis for a July 14 party at the Palais de Tokyo, designs an edible landscape of purple and yellow vegetables for a dinner party at Matchesfashion, London, and installs an ice rink filled with clementine juice in the Galerie des multiples in Paris. But the artist’s world is not only wonderful, her work is built around a complex set of references and meanings, drawing from art history, mythology and language, which is invented between Japanese and French.
The compositions that Lei Saito creates are hybridizations between culinary traditions, eras and flavors that together form a new story crystallizing a sensual experience, a new and shared atmosphere. His artistic act aims to create an interaction between people, to make the audience live a sensory experience, which then participates in the activation of the work itself. The relational dimension is always present in his work. However, it is not a protocol, but a characteristic that is naturally at the heart of her practice: it is all about interaction and balance between the stories she weaves and the experiences she proposes. To accompany this fantastic culinary narrative, three texts, written by Alain Kruger, Agnieszka Gratza and Thomas Schlesser, run through the book. The contributions of these authors offer us a reflection on the way in which cooking questions our relationship to the world. At what point does it become a metaphysical gesture? In other words, what does “existential cooking” mean, as Lei Saito proposes?
Is-Land edition (with the support of fondation Antoine de Galbert)
Authors: Alain Kruger, Agnieszka Gratza and Thomas Schlesser
Published in april 2022
15 x 22 cm