This Reading Room, led by Cooking Sections, combined a performative dinner with a critical reading of the food system. What impact do our food choices have on climate and ecology in particular?
The fossil fuel industry is widely considered the greatest perpetrator of climate change, but the activity most rapidly transforming the planet is in fact the ‘misuse of land use’. Many studies have shown that eating less meat would slow down the acceleration of climate change, but what we do or do not eat also transforms the landscape. How can we positively shape the landscape through our eating habits?
This was the subject of speculation during the Climavore multi-course dinner, based on new climatic seasons. Unlike the now obsolete cycle of spring, summer, autumn, and winter, climatic seasons in the Anthropocene correspond to periods of drought, desertification, water pollution or invasive species. These new seasons offer a new set of clues about how to adapt our diet to the needs of a global landscape. Each course touched upon a specific issue. For example: during severe drought, eating locally grown organic tomatoes can still be environmentally destructive. Instead, eating invasive species limits their population growth and eating nitrogenfixing plants restores the soil. Climavore aims to develop a diet that does not just ‘do no harm’, but uses diet as a means of rehabilitating and reimagining the landscape.
The evening was moderated by Marten Kuijpers from Het Nieuwe Instituut.
Cooking Sections (Daniel Fernández Pascual & Alon Schwabe) is a duo of spatial practitioners based in London. Its remit is to explore the systems that organise the world through food. The urgency to speculate about new scenarios is what pushes Cooking Sections to investigate a new collective imagery that could induce positive change. Using installation, performance, mapping and video, their research-based practice explores the overlap of visual arts, architecture and geopolitics. Cooking Sections was part of the exhibition at the U.S. Pavilion, 2014 Venice Architecture Biennale. Their work has also been exhibited at the Neue Nationalgalerie Berlin; Storefront for Art & Architecture New York; dOCUMENTA(13); Peggy Guggenheim Collection and many more.
This Thursday Night is connected to a long-term research programme at Het Nieuwe Instituut into the spatial implications of food production and its relation to food politics and policies. The exhibition Sicco Mansholt. A Good European shed light on the drastic transformation of the Dutch landscape as a consequence of the post-war modernisation of agriculture, the accompanying increase in scale and the introduction of new technologies, instigated by Dutch agriculture politician Sicco Mansholt.
The Reading Room is a series of evenings dedicated to the act of collective reading. It is a place to decipher and interpret the world with its countless languages and systems, including phenomena that by their ubiquity evade investigation. Led by an artist, researcher or designer, a small audience will reflect upon a concept, a text, an object or an image. The Reading Room is a space for intimate, provocative conversations. It is a place for creative confusion and sometimes even frustration, in which speakers and audience are not looking for concrete solutions but for higher resolutions. Subjects in previous Reading Rooms include exhibition, surveillance, migration, liquidity, museum, insecurity.