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Ghost World

GhostFood is served.
GhostFood is served.

Let’s talk about our strong personal connections to biodiversity and climate change. No takers? Okay, let’s talk about our strong personal connections to peanut butter. Chocolate. How about Atlantic codfish? 

Memories stirring? Good. That’s exactly what artist/creator Miriam Simun wants when you participate in GhostFood, a food truck sponsored by The Contemporary that peddles edible fare that might soon become extinct. (Students from the Program in Museums and Society at Johns Hopkins University are dedicated collaborators. The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation provides lead support.)

There are only three menu items, and the truck’s foodstuffs themselves are pale imitations of what you might ever want to eat. The real sensation hits when you don the 3-D printed olfactory device that pipes in the scent of what you’ve “ordered,” and suddenly the flavor comes to life.

“We created GhostFood to give people a personal and sensory experience of this complex and loaded term ‘climate change,’ by bringing to life street food in a world where ocean, rainforest and grasslands climates have continued to shift.” Simun says, who explains that peanuts, chocolate and cod are highly susceptible to the impact of climate change and crops of these food staples are quickly diminishing around the world.

Some elements of the installation seem futuristically freaky, almost post-apocalyptic, like the sterile, all-white truck and the robotic “servers.” But the reality of the endangerment of these menu items isn’t a problem from the distant future. It’s happening right now. You couldn’t taste climate change before. But now, at least you can smell it. —Saralyn Lyons

> Visit contemporary.org for updates on where the GhostFood truck will travel around Baltimore through early November, along with programming related to the nomadic exhibit.

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