In Autumn 2022, Delfina Foundation in partnership with Gaia Art Foundation launched the fifth season of residencies and public programmes focusing our investigations on the most pressing issue of our time: the climate emergency.
Agriculture alone is responsible for 30% of greenhouse gas emissions, 92% of global water use, 38% of earth’s ice-free land, and is a major source of biodiversity loss and land degradation. In our oceans, the impact of the world’s fastest growing food production system – intensive aquaculture – encapsulates the complexity of future “sustainable” diets as nutritional, policy and environmental factors rub against one another. Addressing how and what we eat is critical to the survival of both human and more than human species.
Since 2014, Delfina Foundation’s Politics of Food programme has worked with artists, activists, agronomists, artisans, bakers, butchers, chefs, economists, farmers, fermenters, foragers, historians, scientists, policy makers, nutritionists and more, delivering over 100 residencies with public programmes taking the format of meals, exhibitions, walks, talks, pickings and a pop-up cafe.
Season 5 participants include: Wesam Al Asali, Moza Almatrooshi, Cocina CoLaboratorio, L. Sasha Gora, Joseph K. Kasau & Stéphane Kabila, Maya Marshak, Åsa Sonjasdotter, Derek Tumala, David Blandy, Agnes Cameron, Annalee Levin, Andrew Merritt and Cherry Truluck.
Wesam Al Asali
Wesam Al Asali (Syria) is an architect, educator and researcher with experience in building crafts, structural design, and local building materials. His work explores and emphasises the role of culture and society in rethinking how cities are grown and consumed in the context of climate challenges. Focusing on the Middle East and Latin America, Wesam’s practice engages with the role of “scarcity” as a heuristic process rooted in the situated production and inhabitation of the built environment.
During his residency at Delfina Foundation, as part of The Politics of Food programme (autumn 2022), Wesam will investigate how domestic architecture in Syria was transformed into machines for food production, processing, and storing during the last ten years of the war’s severe scarcity of resources and energy. When freezers were shut down and food became expensive, many old food preservation habits became valuable again. The project will rely on oral and visual history to unpack these habits and show the impact of food crises on the notion of dwelling in different geographies in Syria.
Wesam is an assistant professor at IE School of Architecture and Design in Segovia, Spain. He received his PhD in 2021 from the University of Cambridge, where he worked on design strategies for thin-tile vaults for low-carbon ceiling systems. Currently, he is the Global Fund fellow at Princeton University, working on his manuscript Cultures of Making, which examines selected case studies of vernacular crafts and construction from the Middle East. Wesam is the co-founder of IWlab, his architectural practice, and CERCAA, his school of building crafts for architects and architecture students in Valencia, Spain.
Moza Almatrooshi (UAE) in her practice looks at narratives from ancient and contemporary mythologies in the Arabian Peninsula, and the ways in which they uphold nation building techniques. This culminates in fictions and metaphors derived from regional food production practices and food politics.
During her residency at Delfina Foundation, as part of the The Politics of Food programme (autumn 2022), working with her co-residents from around the world, Moza hopes to test out how her work could be perceived when it’s decontextualised. She will also continue to work on an ongoing research project, which looks at time and work in farms, farming techniques, and foraging practices in landscapes that pose challenges for cyclical calendars of sustenance to be perpetuated.
In 2019 Moza gained an MFA from the Slade School of Fine Art (UK) and a diploma in culinary arts from ICCA Dubai in 2020. Her artworks have been performed in the Victoria & Albert Museum (London), selected by the ICA and BBC for the New Creatives project, and displayed in the second Lahore Biennale. Her writings have been published in ArabLit Quarterly, and by the Contemporary Image Collective in Cairo. She is currently a faculty fellow in the Sheikha Salama Emerging Artists Fellowship in Abu Dhabi, UAE. Moza was born in Dubai, UAE and is based in Sharjah, UAE.
Cocina CoLaboratorio (CoLaboratory Kitchen) (Mexico) is a transdisciplinary collective that gathers creatives (artists, designers, architects), farmer communities, scientists and chefs around the kitchen table to exchange knowledge, design and take action towards sustainable food futures. Cocina Colaboratorio regards the kitchen as a co-creative space where people are connected through growing, cooking, tasting, sharing and experimenting. Aspirations and actions are shared and undertaken around the kitchen, mixing world views, knowledge, practices and produce through different activities and programmes catered to specific sites and cultures.
During their residency at Delfina Foundation, as part of The Politics of Food programme (autumn 2022), Cocina Colaboratorio will continue exploring the ideas that are encompassed in the Biocultural Living Archive, a tool they have been co-designing over the past year for collective knowledge making and to serve as a platform for rethinking heritage as a political tool – to protect territories, use of land, recipes, agrobiodiversity and ancestral practices. The collective intend to bring to the residency what they have learned from the indigenous heritage of the communities with which they collaborate, especially the notion of “comunalidad”, a way of living and working, that emerges as a tacit display of social movements proposing other organising mechanisms.
Since 2018 the project has established long and short term arts/research/practice collaborations in three sites in Mexico: Xochimilco in Mexico City, Santo Domingo Tomaltepec in Oaxaca, and Marqués de Comillas in Chiapas. The collective’s ongoing programs include: the Street Kitchen Actions, mobile collaborative kitchens in public space; the Biocultural Living Archive, a living archive of seeds, stories and recipes; Radio Cocina Colaboratorio, an onsite and mobile audio-narrative project; the Community Chroniclers, inviting youth to research and promote the local food practices; and the Experimental Plots, agroforestry spaces for collective pedagogies. The project is in long term partnership with the National Autonomous University of Mexico (Institute for Ecosystem Research, Faculty of Arts and Design, the Institute for Transdisciplinary Research), and the University of Wageningen in the Netherlands. It has won the Climate Action Challenge by What Design Can Do (2018), the William Bullock Prize for Critical Museology by MUAC + USC Fisher Museum (2020), and the Global Challenge by Architecture-in-Development (2021).
For their residency at Delfina Foundation, Cocina Colaboratorio will be represented in London by Emilio Hernández Martínez. Emilio is a creative researcher and a design thinker, working at the intersection of learning space design, social entrepreneurship and design activism. He has focused his practice on exploring the convergence of arts, technology and new narratives for peace building. Emilio has collaborated with Cocina Colaboratorio since 2019, mainly in Santo Domingo Tomaltepec, Oaxaca, where he has been in charge of the creative coordination of the project, mediating dialogues and gatherings between the community, local authorities, creatives, researchers and academics. His work has focused on structuring learning communities of farmers, cooks and young narrators, with whom he has explored change around the local food system. Emilio has been involved in different academic investigations that aim to find the root causes that have generated socio-ecological degradations in Santo Domingo, creating the spaces to bring local knowledge to the table, and co-design with the people of the community, creative strategies and prototypes to address these issues.
L. Sasha Gora
L. Sasha Gora (Canada/Germany) is a cultural historian and writer with a focus on food studies and contemporary art. Her research and writing concentrates on the relationship between food and migration, on restaurant politics, and on how human appetites transform environments.
During her residency at Delfina Foundation, as part of The Politics of Food programme (autumn 2022), Sasha will consider extinction through a culinary lens. In dialogue with her larger research project Off the Menu, at Delfina Foundation she will zoom in on substitutions—their practices, discourses, and politics—to ask: How do cuisines chart, mourn, and perhaps even aim to counter environmental loss?
In 2020 Sasha received a PhD from Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich on the subject of Indigenous restaurants in the lands now called Canada. She has been a visiting scholar at the University of California Berkeley, a postdoctoral research fellow at Ca’ Foscari University of Venice, and is currently a lecturer at the Rachel Carson Center. Following her Delfina Foundation residency, Sasha will join the Institute for Advanced Study in the Humanities in Essen as an international fellow.
From the politics of serving wild game to figurative painting and feminism and from cookbooks by artists to shellfish and sustainability, Sasha’s writing has been published by Gastronomica, BBC Travel, Eaten, C Magazine, The Preserve Journal, and others. Her first book – Culinary Claims – is forthcoming. In 2015 she co-curated FOOD SOUND UNDERGROUND at MaximiliansForum, Munich, which featured the work of Rafram Chaddad and Marije Vogelzang. Since then, she has given talks and collaborated on culinary events at Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin, the Centre for Contemporary Art, Glasgow, the Contemporary Food Lab, Berlin, Whose Museum, Malmo, and Ocean Space, Venice. Sasha was born in Toronto, Canada, and is currently based in Munich, Germany.
Joseph K. Kasau & Stéphane Kabila
Joseph K. Kasau (DR Congo) is a visual artist, filmmaker and author who addresses the complexity of memory and identity in a post-colonial, urban context. His productions are highly attentive to social interactions, highlighting power relations and proposing alternatives for change and assembly. Stéphane Kabila (DR Congo) is a curator and researcher who starts from philosophical theories and works at the intersection of thoughts and artistic practices for an alternative knowledge production.
Joseph and Stéphane first worked together as a duo in 2021, participating in QUILOMBO, a tri-continental research and exhibition project that has to-date included a residencies at Lago Mio Lugano and Atelier Mondial Basel and an exhibition at City SALTS, Basel, Switzerland. Joseph and Stéphane are also co-founders of the collective Nidjekonnexion, which works as a support device for research, education and contemporary art creation in the city of Lubumbashi, DR Congo.
During their residency at Delfina Foundation, as part of The Politics of Food programme (autumn 2022), Joseph and Stéphane will continue the long-term research project they initiated in Switzerland in 2021 on the issue of green colonialism. Their starting point is the village of Kalera, located between the two national parks of Kundelungu and Upemba. Kabila and Joseph intend to form a collective with local actors and through a series of participatory workshops to learn from the community about practices related to water, seeds and food policy, rethinking definitions based what these terms mean to the community, in order to provide a new understanding of the complexity of environmental protection which is highly dependent on the global situation.
Joseph K. Kasau (b. 1995) is born and based in Lubumbashi, DR Congo. He holds a degree in Information and Communication Sciences from the University of Lubumbashi, with a specialisation in Performing Arts (audiovisual, cinema and theatre). Joseph is a fellow of the Prohelvetia Annual Residency in 2023 in Switzerland; Trame 2022 residency at the Cité Internationale des Arts de Paris; the Tri-continental Quilombo project (DRC – SWITZERLAND – BRAZIL) from 2021 to 2023; and The Afro Ndi Luso Residency in Zambia (2021). He was alternately Assistant Coordinator and Communication Officer of the Kidogo Kidogo Films festival (2017 – 2019), Editorial Assistant at the Lubumbashi Biennale (2019), Production Assistant at Ateliers Picha (2019 – 2021), and Artist and Researcher attached to the Waza Art Center (2020 – 2022). Joseph also works in connection with City Salts (Basel, Switzerland), Archives Books (Berlin, Germany), Museum of Tervuren (Belgium), Modzi Arts (Lusaka, Zambia), and DL Multimedia.
Kabila Kyowa Stéphane (b. 1993) is a curator and researcher based in Lubumbashi, DR Congo. He is part of the exhibition coordinator team of the Livingstone office for Contemporary Art in Livingstone (LoCA) Zambia. He is member of the Lubumbashi working group of Another Roadmap of Arts Education Africa Cluster, a network of researchers and practitioners studying collaboratively the histories, policies and possible alternative practices in arts education. He works at Waza Art Centre in projects involving library and exhibition curating, talks and critical writings. He holds a post-graduate degree in Philosophy from Lubumbashi University and is a MA student of the curatorial study programme in the Faculty of Fine Art, Music and Design at the University of Bergen (KMD), Norway.
Maya Marshak (South Africa/ Eswatini) works at the intersection of art and social-environmental research. She also works on an agroecological farm in Eswatini. In her research and artistic practices, Maya is interested in relations between humans and all life. Often this is through the lens of food and agriculture and the entanglements with other species and the complex social-ecological histories embedded within food systems. Her recent work explores relationships between place, land, and memory within agricultural landscapes.
During her residency at Delfina Foundation, as part of The Politics of Food programme (autumn 2022), Maya will draw on her fascination with archival material and interest in climate fiction. Through a body of drawings and paintings combined with animation titled ‘vision fields’, Maya wishes to explore the past and future ghosts within industrial agricultural fields. A ‘vision field’ is an area that can be seen when the eye is focused on a fixed point. This title reflects on the narrowness of industrial approaches to farming and the social and ecological injustices this way of knowing and seeing the world has created.
Åsa Sonjasdotter (Sweden/Germany) works with plant breeders, farmers and gardeners for the regeneration and reclaiming of those remaining and still-living pluriverse socialites of peasant-bred crops that were lost by monoculture coercion. Through collaboration, real and speculative narrative-material processes are set in motion, taking place in the fields, by and with the crops.
During her residency at Delfina Foundation, as part of The Politics of Food programme (autumn 2022), Åsa will research the retrieval of peasant farming techniques carried out in resistance to the formation of agro-industries by non-conforming women organised within the social movements of suffrage, peace and organic farming in the early 20th century in the UK and beyond.
Åsa is the author of the publication Peace with the Earth — Tracing Agricultural Memory, Refiguring Practice (Archive Books, 2019), editor of pamphlet Peace with the Earth (Archive Books, 2020), and initiator of Archive Journal issue 9 (March – April 2020). Åsa Sonjasdotter was born in Sweden and lives on the island of Ven, Sweden and in Berlin, Germany.
Derek Tumala (Philippines) has an art practice that revolves around the chasms of science and nature. With this, he meditates on the idea of interconnectedness and forming ecologies and systems of thought. Currently he is drawn to the notion of a changing world, in this age of anxiety, of changing climate, society and politics, his impulse is to be able to understand, process and undermine knowledge to be able to approach visceral truths as material for his work.
During his residency at Delfina Foundation, as part of The Politics of Food programme (autumn 2022), Derek will focus on “Climate Mutations” in the context of “abnormal change” as this phenomenon is greatly affecting food supply chains and flora & fauna. He wants to create further insights on how to look into food production and its surrounding subjects, particularly rice, a Philippine staple, which is deeply affected by climate change, geopolitics and colonial legacies.
Derek was in residency at the Manila Observatory from November 2021 to February 2022. During which he initiated ‘Chasing the Center‘, a portal, constellation of thoughts, research, imageries and found connections on how the weather is a crucial part of history, culture and society. Derek is born and based in Manila, Philippines.
David Blandy has a multi-disciplinary practice that uses performance, video, installation, role play and collaboration to deconstruct and reimagine our relationship to the world. Making links between geopolitics, the struggle of decolonisation, the ecological crisis and the self in an age of digital dematerialisation, his work takes a playful approach to lure the viewer into structural and personal analysis.
As a UK associate at Delfina Foundation as part of The Politics of Food programme in Autumn 2022, David will be exploring his familial link to colonial food production as an attempt to consolidate authority. His paternal grandfather was part of the Swynnerton Plan in the 1950s, a British Government scheme to gain favour with the Black middle class in Kenya, social engineering through agriculture. For the past few years he has been experimenting with the form of group world building, using voice, writing and drawing to imagine new worlds and societal systems collaboratively.
From 20 September to 2 October 2022 as the culmination of his residency at Towner Eastbourne, UK, David will present his research into the relationship between food production and weapons development, space exploration and the climate crisis. The Edge of Forever will continue to be developed for a solo exhibition at John Hansard Gallery, Southampton in 2023.
David has been nominated for the Film London Jarman award with Larry Achiampong in 2018. He has exhibited and performed at venues nationally and internationally, including as Focal Point Gallery, Southend-on-Sea; Kettle’s Yard, Cambridge; Art Tower Mito, Tokyo; Kiasma Contemporary Art Museum, Helsinki; Tate Modern, London; The Baltic, Gateshead; Turner Contemporary, Margate; Spike Island, Bristol; Künstlerhaus Stuttgart, Germany; MoMA PS1, New York, and JSC Düsseldorf, Germany. David is represented by Seventeen Gallery, London. His films are distributed by LUX, London. David was born in London, UK and is now based on the South coast in Brighton, UK.
Agnes Cameron is an artist and engineer whose work explores complex systems using agent-based models. She often works as a technical collaborator with artists, performers, students and researchers, with a particular interest in open data and simulation projects. In recent years, her work has come to focus on collaborative and distributed knowledge systems, and the (mis)use and adaptation of web infrastructure.
As a UK associate at Delfina Foundation as part of The Politics of Food programme in Autumn 2022, Agnes will develop a new project exploring British food policy, and the impact of legal and trade agreements on what and how we eat. Based on her work with open data and ontology design processes, she will be looking particularly at the role of bureaucratic systems and research institutes in shaping our food systems.
Agnes works with the Knowledge Futures Group, developing tools for open data curation and sharing, is a resident artist at Somerset House Studios, a part time specialist technican at UAL’s Creative Computing Institute and 25% of the research studio Foreign Objects. Her work has been shown at institutions including Akademie Schloss Solitude, Printed Matter, Rhizome, Bloc Projects, New York Live Arts, and the Internet Archive. Agnes was born in Brighton, UK, and is currently based in London, where she has lived since 2020.
Annalee Levin is a visual artist, trained chef, and co-owner of a family-run pub in Somerset. Her most recent body of work employs captured carbon as an art medium, investigating the carbon cycle and how recycled carbon can be positively incorporated into local circular economies.
As a UK associate at Delfina Foundation as part of The Politics of Food programme in Autumn 2022, Annalee will be researching traditional beer and alcohol production along with zero waste cooking practices – in both traditional cuisines and contemporary fine dining. With this research she will be developing the design for a zero waste, carbon negative brewery, incorporating a biochar kiln as an energy source, an interconnected greenhouse and food production system, and an algae tank for consuming excess CO2.
Annalee holds a BA from Macalester College, an MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and has studied traditional hand embroidery at the Royal School of Needlework. She was the first artist-in-residence of Oco/Carbon Upcycling Technologies, a company in Canada that creates materials out of upcycled CO2 emissions. As a part of her residency she founded Captured Carbon Studio. Her captured carbon artwork and products can be seen at the Alberta Carbon Conversion Technology Centre and her Captured Carbon Crayons were on display in Our Future Planet, an exhibition at the Science Museum in London.
Annalee has recently relocated from San Francisco, California to Huish Episcopi, Somerset where she is helping to run a heritage, Grade II listed pub which has been in her husband’s family for over 150 years. Building on research from her time at Delfina, she plans to work with her family to decarbonise the business and incorporate zero waste practices into their bar and kitchen.
Andrew Merritt explores social and ecological issues through experimental solution-based work in the form of permanent installations and functional sculptures, which provide frameworks or foundations for communities and ecologies to build and grow upon. Andrew often works as one half of the duo Something & Son.
As a UK associate at Delfina Foundation as part of The Politics of Food programme in Autumn 2022, Andrew will explore ideas of the military and disaster zones acting as a builder of ecologies, communities and new forms of agriculture. As R. Buckminster Fuller said, “Selfishness is unnecessary. War is obsolete. It is a matter of converting the high technology from weaponry to livingry”.
Andrew has presented exhibitions and projects at: Tate Britain, Tate Modern, V&A Museum, South London Gallery, Manchester International Festival, Gwangju Biennale (South Korea), FACT (Liverpool), Deon Foundation (Netherlands); Vienna Biennale/MAK (Austria), Artangel (UK), Milan Design Week (Italy), Cultural Olympia (London), Art Catalyst (UK), Somerset House (London), Folkestone Art Triennial (UK), Design Museum (London), Royal Botanical Gardens Kew, Wellcome Collection (London), and Istanbul Design Biennial (Turkey).
He has delivered talks and workshops at Serpentine Gallery (London), Kunst-Werke (Berlin), Science Museum (London), SALT (Istanbul), Gottlieb Duttweiler Institute (Zurich), CIT (Ireland) Design, Royal College of Art (London), Central Saint Martins (London), Riga Technical University (Latvia), Design Indaba (Cape Town), British Council (London), ICA (London) and the Barbican (London). Andrew is also a founder of Makerversity, Somerset House. Andrew was born in the UK, as is based in London.
Cherry Truluck is an artist, researcher and Creative Director of Custom Food Lab. Her transdisciplinary practice explores symbiosis, attunement and interdependence in more-than-human ecologies, as both an artistic strategy and agroecological methodology. Working with community building, phenomics, cooking, farming and performance, she seeks rhythms in the dialogue that food creates between the body and the land.
As a UK associate at Delfina Foundation as part of The Politics of Food programme in Autumn 2022, Cherry will focus on embodied knowledge and inherited memory in the cultivation and breeding of oats, in a seed-sowing ritual using a traditional seed fiddle with a specially developed ‘population’ oat variety. This will be contextualised in communal feasts connecting across urban and rural landscapes.
Cherry has contributed to the NFS London Community Cooks resource and Geocinema’s Signals and Storms residency at Freeport Institute. She is also a Doctoral Researcher for the UK Food Systems CDT and a regional coordinator for the Landworkers Alliance. Custom Food Lab, founded by Cherry in 2018, is a decentralised programme of collective action led by artists, designers, researchers, growers and activists who are passionate about food and the future – where food comes from, how it’s grown, it’s potential to tell a story, to connect people to each other, to nature, to heritage, to rediscover lost sustainable practices, to imagine a food system outside of capitalism. Cherry is based in Frome, Somerset.
The book, Politics of Food, co-published by Delfina Foundation and Sternberg Press, is an important document of current research and thinking around this subject with contributions by prominent artists, academics, activists and chefs. Through interviews, essays and artist contributions, the book critically assesses and illuminates ways in which the arts can confront food-related issues, including the infrastructure of global and local food systems, alternatives and sustainability, climate and ecology, health and policy, science and biodiversity, and identity and community.
This book is neither a record of Delfina Foundation’s work in this area, nor a comprehensive survey of all issues or artists working with food. Instead the book presents some of the most pioneering ideas and projects around the subject, focusing specifically on four key areas which serve as sections into which the book’s content is structured: Food and Identity; Food Journeys; Food Futures; and Food and Hospitality.