With works by Moza Almatrooshi, Michael & Chiyan Ho, Inês Neto dos Santos & Bella Riza and an activation of the street food corner by Anna Pasco Bolta with the support of Loqma Churros, München as well as by Stray Coffe Roasters
Food, recipes, kitchens and their local products shape our living spaces. They tell us much more about social spheres, in which we locate them or with which we relate them. In the first issue of "Did you eat today?" we present video works that reflect on intercultural references and traditions as well as traces of (hi)stories inherent to food and its preparation.
The street food corner serves Churros and drinking chocolate. The origin of churros is not entirely clear: there is evidence that they came to Europe both as a salty version from China and from Egyptian and North African cuisine. With the beginning of colonization, they reached Central and South America as a sweet pastry.
Presented video works:
Staff of Life, 2021. Video, Color, Sound with subtitles, 5:21 min.
In Arabic bread is synonymous with life. “Staff of Life” is a moving image portrayal of a working day in a bakery that creates their version of Western pastries. The film examines the process of making dough and metaphorises it by drawing comparisons with aspects of human resilience, and the attempts to reach fulfilment and self realisation in harsh conditions. The languages in the film oscillate between Arabic, Farsi, and Urdu - the three languages have a shared history and influence on one another through art, literature, religions, science, violence, and colonisation. The narrators push and pull through their language similarities and variances, and employ their accented melodic tones, champion the poetics of their spoken words, and continue what is being said by one another seamlessly. The Western pastries pose as a standard that is attempted to live up to, while the hands of the bakers guide the narrative forward. From shapeless large volumes that arrive as multitudes of sweet creations, the dough conceals inside it the series of exacting events that lead to its final state.
Glaze, 2020. Video, Color, Sound with subtitles, 34:15 min.
The influence heralded by historic trade with South Asian countries, as well as reliance on foreign labour during the modernisation of the Arabian Gulf until the present day, has bred physical, economic, and social hybrids that have shaped cultural outcomes. In locating various eateries that specialise in producing desserts in Sharjah, an investigation was carried out through the filming of the space, objects, and actions taking place there daily. By centering desserts in the work, there are links drawn with the idea of sweetening as a guise for other flavours. Sugar has been a source of problematics for its historical connotations with enslaved labour, colonial enterprising and class signifiers, as well as a demonised health hazard and a source of “sinful” temptation & indulgence.
Michael & Chiyan Ho
Lucky House, 2021. Video, Color, Sound with subtitles, 4:23 min.
“Lucky House” deals with notions of the Chinese diaspora and depicts the life of a second-generation immigrant. The Short film portrays events within a Chinese takeaway in the UK owned by her father in which the story unfolds through an internal monologue that reflects on the past, present and the future of the protagonist played by Yen Guo. The hybrid nature of the Chinese takeaway and its adaption to a more western palette such as serving fish and chips acts an analogy and reflection of her own identity. The cultural conflict is stylistically enhanced through the subtitles provided in both Chinese and English that support the narration throughout the movie, indicating moments of cultural mismatch and understanding. The latter half of the movie is flooded in red light, a colour that symbolises prosperity and good fortune within Chinese culture. The red imagery alluding to her dreams and aspirations are carried out through a dance sequence that reveals a moment of ‘becoming.’
Inês Neto dos Santos & Bella Riza
Beans, Rinsed Twice, 2021. Video, Color, Sound with subtitles, 14:22 min.
“Beans, Rinsed Twice” follows tales, histories, memories and recipes tied up in a bean. How many stories can a recipe tell? And who do these stories belong to?
Through the personal and historical symbolism of a bean – and, consequently, the process of growing, harvesting and cooking this seed – the film moves between the collaborators’ own memories (in all their factual/fabricated dimensions), expanding on to speak of how we carry multiple places within us, the value of tacit knowledge and the possibilities for a reciprocal language of care.