Elia Nurvista uses different media to focus on issues and discourses around food and eating. Her inter-disciplinary and community-based approach is based on the idea that food and eating are intrinsically linked to more abstract levels of politics, society and culture.
Her Früchtlinge exhibition project at Künstlerhaus Bethanien showcases her reflections on migrants and refugees. She visited a range of initiatives for refugees in Berlin to learn about how they see our society, which is foreign from their perspective. The works resulting from this experience address our frequently ambiguous attitude to what is foreign to us: whereas “exotic” luxury items and food such as tropical fruit are regarded as positive and precious, people who come to us as refugees from the same countries are often rejected as being “foreign”, and their “exotic” nature is sometimes even perceived as a threat. Nurvista portrays this ambiguity with subtle irony, for instance by affixing contemporary official quality seals and brand labels to Old Masters still life paintings or historical pictures of the “noble savage”, thus adding a humorous and critical layer of meaning and turning them into new, independent pieces of work. Her show also includes a number of small sculptures made from a rough dough of flour, water and salt and modelled on the grand archways and portals portrayed on euro banknotes that symbolise Europe’s outward-looking character and readiness to cooperate with the international community.