Kitchens stand for community and gatherings, comfort and lively discussions, in a way nowhere else can. Not least, in countries with limited freedom of opinion, the kitchen is a refuge for free speech. During the coronavirus pandemic, it has come to mean even more – it is not just a place for coming together, but also a workspace and a classroom. In the project Europe’s Kitchen, presented by the Goethe Institut, the room becomes a metaphor and platform for a Europe-wide cultural dialogue beyond borders.
Eleven artists from very different disciplines, all of whom live and work in Europe, are each organising an event in a city they don’t live in, taking as their starting point the idea of the kitchen conversation – be this in the kitchens of private hosts or, due to the pandemic, in public spaces. Each evening aims to spark examinations of topical themes relevant across Europe, bringing a wide range of perspectives into play. Fundamental questions about what Europe is, who is welcome, who isn’t and under what conditions will also be raised in small groups and then presented in artistic formats such as readings, concerts, interactive performances or in discussions.
Commencing today and running through the weekend, from 16-18 October, British author and political activist Priya Basil will lead the UK chapter of the project, taking the form of an online discussion with Danish-Trinidadian artist, Jeannette Ehlers, who creates works inspired by politics, memory, the colonial gaze and race. Taking inspiration from her video series, LOOKING at / with / for / after ONE ANOTHER, Basil and Ehlers will be joined in conversation with Soul Food Sisters Glasgow and speakers including, Paul Gilroy, academic and founder of the Centre for the Study of Race and Racism at UCL, and author, Lizzie Collingham.
Europe’s Kitchen initially launched earlier this summer, with the Portuguese artist Patrícia Portela first exchanging letters with the guests she would be meeting in Copenhagen. The short texts which emerged from this conversation were collaboratively woven into a story and performed during the live event in the kitchen of their Danish host, Philipp Ostrowicz. Among the other artists arranging evenings for the project are Croatian author Ivana Sajko, German artist Mischa Leinkauf, the Czech conceptual artist Kateřina Šedá, and Italian artist Marinella Senatore. The programme, running until the end of 2020, poses important questions about Europe’s past, present and future.
It will also be possible to experience in the digital realm the encounters and discussions from different places. Alongside local open calls and online offerings, all of the European kitchen meetings will be condensed into a series of short videos and accompanied by three bloggers: writer and visual artist Mohammed Z. Rahman from London, literary scholar and law student Marie Detjen, who lives between Berlin and London, and Dutch-Hungarian blogger Mandula van den Berg, who is based in Berlin. Their posts can be followed at www.goethe.de/europeskitchen.
Feature image: Universalis Cosmographia; printed wall map of the world by German cartographer Martin Waldseemüller, April 1507