'at the kitchen table' exhibits works by 14 Indian and global artists who explore the role of food in history, politics and everyday life

Artists Nihaal Faizal and Sarasija Subramanian, who also run the publishing house, Reliable Copy, have curated this show which is supported by India Foundation for the Arts

Ayesha Tabassum Published :  23rd September 2021 08:59 PM   |   Published :   |  23rd September 2021 08:59 PM

A visitor at the show. Picture courtesy: Reliable Copy and Sandeep TK

Kitchens have always been the epicentre of our homes. They became all the more important in the last year, courtesy the lockdown, when most of us ended up cooking every meal we ate. Recipes were exchanged, forgotten recipes revived, and lost recipes restored. But nearly six months before the pandemic struck, two artists had started working on a special project exploring the idea of how food and the kitchens they are made in have been, and continue to be, critical influences on society.

Sharing a meal
Nearly two years later, their extensively researched work has taken the form of an exhibition titled, at the kitchen table which is on display at 1Shanthiroad Studio/Gallery. Artists Nihaal Faizal and Sarasija Subramanian, who also run the publishing house, Reliable Copy, have curated this show which is supported by India Foundation for the Arts. They say it is a travelling, multi-part exhibition that will probably expand further.

Right now, the exhibition showcases fascinating and awe-inspiring works by 14 artists from across the globe. “It all started with a conversation around the table. Nihal and I have been residents at 1ShanthiRoad. While sharing a meal, Pushpamala (another artist) casually spoke about how the kitchen is so important to this space, and became the entry point for most of us. We all have cooked here at some point. We wanted to capture this experience and talk about the community around it,” explains Sarasija. This thought progressed further and sparked off conversations between them and other artists from around the world. The works finally selected by Nihaal and Sarasija are not restricted by time. Some are historical evidence of how food affected the course of World Wars, while others showcase how governments manifest their power through food politics. There are also works-in-progress which showcase the concept of cultural evolution and acceptance.

A visitor at the show

On my plate
New York-based Jason Hirata’s Cigarettes and Chips in the Dark is an audio lecture that revisits his 2017 lecture-performance titled Camp Harmony Assembly Center for Japanese American Internment, Puyallup, Washington. “Jason re-recorded his lecture for this show. He talks about what his grandparents were served while they were imprisoned in Japanese-American internment camps during World War II,” offers Sarasija. In the previous lecture, he discussed foods that were eaten over a week. In this audio presentation he focuses on menus served across nine inter nment camps on a single day.

Rasheed Araeen's work

Shamiyaana, a work by Rasheed Araeen, a pioneer of minimalist sculpture in London, started as a makeshift tent where food was served to visitors. Today it has transformed into a small cafe/bar in the neighbourhood of Stoke Newington. It’s his minimalist sculptures that form the tables and his bright geometric paintings and reliefs are displayed at the restaurant. The artist showcases images of this restaurant at this show. “He turned his work into a permanent structure,” enthuses Sarasija.

Chinaar Shah and Nihaal’s work ,The Real Taste of India, a series of research papers and documents looks at how the ‘taste of India’ is marketed around the globe. While Pushpamala N’s work Rashtriy Kheer and Desiy Salad interprets nationalism through the idea of a modern Indian family.

Entry free. Until October 5.
At Shanthi Nagar

ayeshatabassum@ newindianexpress.com