It started with a polite invitation (“Join the Menu for Mars Supper Club as we pioneer a menu for the Red Planet”) and a series of tomato-red doors leading into plastic-walled chambers. Pierogi’s project space The Boiler has been transformed into a scientific kitchen until June 21st, during which time visitors and artists will test recipes for life on Mars as an extension of organizers Heidi Neilson and Douglas Paulson’s year-long Menu for Mars Supper Club.
This Flux Factory educational initiative brings together artists, scientists, musicians, and the public to imagine food on Mars. I visited at the opening of Menu for Mars, where spaces encased in plastic featured a central kitchen surrounded by a greenhouse, a food gallery, a photo booth, and an office. The greenhouse displays Marco Castro’s ideas for an inflatable garden and greenhouse with plants that could survive the long journey and harsh climate. Tattfoo Tan has created NEMREs (“New Earth Meal Ready to Eat”) that are not traditionally appetizing—these dehydrated food packs are apparently made from rescued food waste.
Social engagement brings this interesting theoretical proposition to life, as the space becomes an invitation to action. An ongoing series of programming involving groups as diverse as The Planetary Society of New York City, yogurt-maker Gil Lopez, and musician Will Owens offers guided ways to interact with the space. Anytime, however, visitors can take advantage of a pantry stocked with Mars-feasible ingredients in a variety of dried, powdered, thermostabilized, and dehydrated forms. Meals, including—I believe—those of visitors, will be documented, sample, sealed, and sent as prototypes to NASA to help with their plans to colonize Mars.
Tomorrow, June 13, at 3 pm, there is a “Jiminy Mac and Cheese” workshop, for those of you adventurous enough to imagine crickets in your Mars macaroni.
It’s a bold, new world.