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Understanding Cities Through Urban Gastronomy

“Activating the City,” a new exhibition in Seoul, looks at how the distribution and consumption of food shapes urban areas across the globe.
Promotional poster for the new exhibit, "Activating the City: Urban Gastronomy."
Promotional poster for the new exhibit, "Activating the City: Urban Gastronomy."The National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Korea

There’s a lot to unpack on the topic of gastronomy. That’s the nebulous term for the study of the equally hazy phrase “good food,” and it’s spawned multiple subcategories like molecular gastronomy, gastrodiplomacy, and urban gastronomy.

That last category piqued the interest of the Seoul-based curator Bora Hong when she was asked to guest curate a exhibition on gastronomy for Korea’s National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art. “Activating the City: Urban Gastronomy” features over a dozen interactive projects—including live roundtable discussions with notable chefs, plus designs for portable kitchens and bikes—from artists and community leaders.