Interview to Kitchen Dialogues (by Martinka Bobrikova & Oscar de Carmen)
Kitchen Dialogues is an artist duo composed of Martinka Bobrika, from Slovakia, and Óscar de Carmen, from Spain, who have been working together for the last 10 years.
Kitchen Dialogues works like a nomadic platform for a period of several years, during which different social interactions take place, having a series of gastronomic events as a common thread.
These events, focused on the negative consequences of surplus food, have different formats, from the creation of a temporary pop-up restaurant inside an apartment to occasional events, like a mobile kitchen.
Bed & Breakfast is the new event we are preparing at the moment within the Kitchen Dialogues project.
When does Kitchen Dialogues start?
We have been working together for the last 10 years. We met each other in the Canary Islands through a mutual friend and found out that they were studying at the same faculty. Then we started our first collaboration, which we finished with a mutual desire to keep working together as a unit in their artistic practices. From the beginning, we were interested in working within the context of the value of the economic power. As a result of some personal experiences, we started to develop a series of works with the consumption of food as a background. More specifically, we focused on the negative consequences of surplus food.
What is Kitchen Dialogues and how does it work?
Kitchen Dialogues works like a nomadic platform for a period of several years, during which different social interactions take place, having a series of gastronomic events as a common thread. These events have different formats, from the creation of a temporary pop-up restaurant inside an apartment to occasional events, like a mobile kitchen. They take place in public and private spaces of different international cities. The project is conceived to be self-financed, although sometimes it may count on the support of certain institutions.
Bed & Breakfast is the new event we are preparing at the moment within the Kitchen Dialogues project. An event that will take place thanks to the help of the MeetFactory International Centre for Contemporary Art in collaboration with the 2015 Prague Quadrennial from 18 to 28 June in the capital of the Czech Republic. The idea is that a maximum of 12 people per day may have a place to sleep and have breakfast before visiting Prague. Our Bed & Breakfast will be located on the second floor of MeetFactory, in a 100 square meter studio where there will be modules/bedrooms built with recycled wood, which will make them unique, warm and cozy, without forgetting all modern amenities. In this space, a maximum of 12 people will be accommodated per day. Each person will be able to spend a maximum of two nights, to give more people the chance to participate. In the morning, a delicious homemade breakfast will be offered to all the guests. It will be made with the surplus food generated by the food industry. The objective is that each participant can live inside this social ecosystem we have created outside the consumption world, offering them all the services for free. To participate in this B & B event, you just have to make a reservation from mid-May through the booking section available on our website.
Kitchen Dialogues is about the overproduction and waste of food. Do you want to raise awareness about this issue?
We could say that this description about our project is a half-truth about what Kitchen Dialogues means. It’s true that the project comes from the idea of generating reflection among consumers on the negative consequences implicit in food consumption.
Although the concept has always been oriented to develop an active social tool through surplus food, with the aim to enact a socialization outside regulatory consumption.
Kitchen Dialogues is universal, in the sense that you are not focused on any particular food culture or country…How do you work in that sense? Do people propose you to colloborate together to create an event or are you the ones who design the editions of the project?
When creating a Kitchen Dialogues event, we always try to find the most suitable format to perform it, taking into account the concept we want to develop. For this purpose, we study the cultural and food factors in the place where we want to celebrate it. Generally, we are the ones who seek the best way to carry out the event through different strategies to be able to amortize its cost.
In Kitchen Dialogues you talk about the overproduction and waste of food. Is also your purpose making people aware of the wrongness of our current food system?
From a personal point of view, it’s true that we’ve never hidden our idea of shedding light on the problems related to the current production and consumption patterns, economically justified, of supply greater than demand. We see how technology applied to social and economic progress is hindering a more sustainable use of natural resources. These resources are being used to fulfill the wishes of the richest people through consumerism, which has generated a discussion from us about overproduction and surplus food.
Kitchen Dialogues is proposed from another perspective, our events are not designed to address the problem from an educational point of view and we don’t find appropriate to analize the discussion during the events. What we are looking for with Kitchen Dialogues is that people can “taste” the problem of food surplus.
However, it’s impossible to ignore the links that Kitchen Dialogues generates beyond the degustation, pushing forward the objective of bringing together different interests related to the research about the relationship of people with what they eat and the evironment where they live; the value of power in economic circles.
On the one hand, your project has a social character, but it also has an artistic and gastronomic side. Which are your artistic and gastronomic influences?
When designing our project, we had many influences, like Antoni Miralda and his work Food Cultura, Food, by Gordon Matta-Clark, Rirkrit Tiravanija’s works, Eat Art, by Daniel Spoerri and El Manifiesto de la Cocina Futurista by Filippo Tommaso Marinetti y Fillia, a collection of thinkings, believes and intentions of futurists about food and gastronomy.
What’s the dialogue you’ve obtained from the project? What have you observed in people who have participated in it?
The active participation of people in the Kitchen Dialogues events is through the degustation of culinary preparations made from surplus food. This makes that the response of the participants is more related to the sensations they experience while eating, sensations that they frequently share with the rest of participants in the place of the event.
Which are the conclusions you’ve reached after this time running the project?
For us, it’s vital to take possession of activities that nowadays are just linked to consumption, getting the possibility of transforming the perception of each individual, who is used to integrate the consumarism in his social and personal acts. In this sense we think that Kitchen Dialogues generates this experience.
In addition to Kitchen Dialogues, as an artist duo or individually, are you performing other projects?
We are in a search process for our next exhibition, named Superfluos Identity, that tries to reflect the state of the global economy from a local point of view, exploring the most relevant industries arisen in the Czech Republic in the last 120 years.
A work that explores a memento mori of the current global economic model of industrial factories in a symbolic way. The exhibition will be shown in Prague, in the Entrance Gallery, the 15th of July.
Pics by Kitchen Dialogues