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Nutritional Index

Galleries can be staid places, demanding of their patrons a sensibility towards art that can sometimes become tiresome and often render it inaccessible. Most, if not all, of the art works contained within galleries tend to become encased within an aura of elitism, even if they are not intentionally conceived with such selectiveness in mind. As a result, the core democratic purposes of art are often lost to a milieu that prizes selectiveness and a system of market relations.

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Kurt Bosecke & Emmaline Zanelli, Nutritional Index, Art Gallery of South Australia (AGSA), March 2022. Presented by AGSA and Tutti Arts. Photo: Thomas McCammon.

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For galleries it is often more convenient to push their visions from the inside out, but much harder for them to allow the outside in, as a means to interpret their spaces more spontaneously. The Art Gallery of South Australia (AGSA) has for some time run a program of volunteer tours that encourage members of the public to first research art works of their choice and then run AGSA’s tour program. Finding inspiration in ideas around the democratisation of the gallery tour, artists Kurt Bosecke and Emmaline Zanelli, through their performance-based work entitled Nutritional Index, have taken the idea of the tour to a completely new level. Together they revel in redefining the conceptual paradigm through which guided viewing of art is facilitated. Delicately concealed are the detailed references to art history, cannons of representation and reverence to historical figures that are fundamental to many conventional galley tours. Instead, while these staples are still dexterously considered they are also, in a sense, ostensibly outranked by references to food and nutrition as a metalanguage that facilitates the artists in offering a broader and more available comment upon the collection.

Photo: Thomas McCammon.

Kurt’s lanyard.


Nutritional Index is not merely an exercise in flamboyance or comedy, though their performance contains both in liberal doses. What Bosecke and Zanelli offer is far greater; what they effectively create for their audience is a different angle of attack to employ when engaging with the gallery, effortlessly making its collection more approachable and ultimately as a result perhaps more enjoyable and democratic. As a result of the artists complementary and deeply considered interactions new journeys towards engagement with the AGSA collection become apparent and almost instantaneously available.  

Like an umbrella, the lens of food and nutrition assist the artists to pull together seemingly disparate elements within the collection to allow their audience to contemplate more diverse and political concepts such as the changing nature of ideal body images throughout the ages.

Together Bosecke and Zanelli work at different ends of a kind of complementary tandem machine unlike any other. The politically considered voice of Zanelli and the unencumbered and uber insightful musings of Bosecke combine to offer a holistic approach to art and its many meanings as determined by both its existence and its institutionalisation.

Perhaps most impressively, the fact that Bosecke and Zanelli are artists without pretence becomes abundantly clear as their performance unfolds. Despite their differing styles and roles neither artist directs the other, nor do their comments ever qualify each other. Rather, they take one another, and their audience, on an undulating journey within which having a leader would defeat the very purpose of this genuine democratising of the gallery space.

Kurt and Emmaline’s Nutritional Index Tour Map. Zoom in for a closer look.