Finding a Language of Hospitality

Risk Change International Online Conference

Finding a Language of Hospitality

With Merve Bedir, Clare Butcher, KUD OBRAT(Polonca Lovšin), Tanja Lažetić, Vidha Saumya

Friday, 14 August 2020, at 2 p. m.
The conference will be streamed via ZOOM and Facebook Live.


The starting point of the conference Finding a Language of Hospitality is understanding food systems as the unspoken language that everyone knows, feels, and even tastes. As such, it brings diverse people together, encouraging sharing and hospitality, but at the same time, it also exposes economic disparities. The conference brings together international groups of artists, curators, and architects to unpack their practices tackling social and political implications behind diverse food systems. Can this language influence our perception of hospitality? Can the vocabulary of food be exercised as meta-vocabulary of hospitality? Can such practice contribute to broader change if it steps out of an art institution's institutional frame?
Modereted by Irena Borić


2 p. m. Introduction by Irena Borić

2:10 p. m.
Lecture / Merve Bedir: Food for Collective Belonging

Merve Bedir will briefly introduce the notions of hospitality and solidarity in relation to migration. Following, she will discuss food and the kitchen as a space of "intervals" and metaphor for production and preparing ideas of living together in the city. The talk will be based on Mutfak  مطبخ Workshop, which was started as a space of sharing and solidarity, by women from Turkey and Syria in Gaziantep (2015). Promoting a space of proximities, collective belonging and decision-making in the city scale, Mutfak مطبخ Workshop also organises gatherings on women's issues in Turkey.

Merve Bedir is an architect currently living in Hong Kong. Related to this presentation is her work Vocabulary of Hospitality (2014-ongoing), which brings together research, curating, and making, and highly collaborative in its nature. Vocabulary of Hospitality was an exhibition in Studio X Istanbul (2015), published in After Belonging (2016), The Funambulist (2018) and in preparation as a forthcoming book. Merve is a founding member of Mutfak مطبخ Workshop (Gaziantep) and Center for Spatial Justice (Istanbul).

2:35 p. m. Lecture / Vidha Saumya: Rice is Nice. Hospitality Recalled in a Grai

Explored through the analogy of hospitality, Vidha Saumya will talk about processes of cooking and eating rice, as sustenance and perusal of the culture that develops through continuous dialogue. Highlighted through poems and recipes, the talk urges a celebration of the humble grains of rice to closely understand ingredients and cooking techniques with which we nourish ourselves.

Vidha Saumya is a Helsinki based Artist-Poet whose body of works - Monumental Drawings, Intimate Mark-makings, Murals, Books, Poems, Sculptures, Embroidered Textiles, Food Art, Videos, and Digital Artifacts - are wry and warm in their politics and kaleidoscopic in their aesthetics. The concept of Heimat / (Home)land is at the core of her praxis. She has studied art and art theory in Mumbai, Bengaluru, Lahore and Helsinki and has exhibited across India and North Europe.

3 p. m. Lecture / Tanja Lažetić: All colors of black-white tastes

The whole world can be found in our stores. This is clearer to us now than it was ten years ago when Tanja Lažetić worked on the Migrants project. She photographed food that came from distant countries and she was surprised that not only exotic fruits and fresh vegetables in the middle of cold winter that definitely had to grow somewhere else, but also most of the food that could be grown somewhere closeby, is produced in countries with cheap labor. And like all migrants, these foods enter our lives quietly, they are all around us, and although we do not want to admit it, we cannot imagine our lives without them. It’s pretty simple, on our dining tables we bring the world together every day.

Tanja Lažetić graduated in Architecture from the University of Ljubljana. Her fields of interest include photography, video, ceramic art, performance art, and artists’ books. She has received a number of awards, including the first prize at the Trieste Contemporanea international design competition (1995), the bronze prize at Nanjing Festival, China, the third prize at the International Ceramics Triennial UNICUM (both 2015), and the Rihard Jakopič Recognition (2017). Lažetić has participated in artist residencies in New York, Berlin, London, Israel, Lithuania, Shanghai, Vienna. Lažetić has exhibited her work internationally, including the Neuer Berliner Kunstverein, Berlin; Real Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando, Madrid; Museum Brandhorst, Munich; the Art Gallery of Kosovo, Pristina; the PM Gallery and Klovićevi Dvori Gallery, Zagreb; the 25th of May Museum, Belgrade; Brighton Photo Biennial, UK; the Festival of Regions, Austria; and Gagosian Galleries in Paris, Beverly Hills, and NY.

3:25—3:35 p. m. BREAK

3:35 p. m. Lecture / Clare Butcher: Considering Cooking, Composting, Curriculum.

How might we consider cooking and encounters around, through food, as forms of pedagogy? What are the recipes which have cooked up the “normal” curricula, institutions and economies we inhabit that can cloud our imaginations of the short and long-term futures of care, education, health, food security? Is it possible to “compost” an empire of leftovers? Touching on these questions during this time of sharing, raises even more as we consider together the embodied knowledges in the “kitchens of practice”, exchanged through storytelling, muscle memory, and tools. With some time and space to digest the forms and scales this might take when grounded in context, we could begin to carefully trace critical slow cooked, intergenerational and generous ways of being in relationship.

Clare Butcher is a curator and educator from Zimbabwe who cooks and collaborates as part of her practice. She is currently a Curator for Public Programming and Learning with the Toronto Biennial of Art’s amazing team. Clare is committed to working with institutional, curricular, and archival structures to unlearn their logics and redistribute their resources within other times and bodies. Previously she co-led the program unsettling Rietveld Sandberg, and was aneducation coordinator for documenta 14. Clare has worked with museums, academies and community groups and holds an MFA from the School of Missing Studies, an MA in Curating the Archive from the University of Cape Town, as well as participated in the De Appel Curatorial Program. Some collective and individual endeavours include Men Are Easier to Manage Than Rivers (2015); The Principles of Packing…on two travelling exhibitions (2012) and If A Tree…on the Second Johannesburg Biennale (2012).

4 p. m. Lecture / KUD Obrat: Beyond a Construction Site, August 2010–present. Community garden and community space

Location: Resljeva Street, Ljubljana
Authors: Kud Obrat (Stefan Doepner, Urška Jurman, Polonca Lovšin, Apolonija Šušteršič),
in collaboration with neighborhood residents
Co-producers: Zavod Bunker, Kud Obrat
Plot owner: The Municipality of Ljubljana

In collaboration with neighborhood residents and other interested people, KUD Obrat is transforming a long-fenced-off plot of land near Resljeva Street in Ljubljana into a community space intended for gardens, socializing, ecological projects, education and culture. In this way they are realizing the goal of the project, which is to examine and show the potential of degraded urban areas and the possibility of their receiving new value through temporary community-based interventions. The project is a testing and learning field for spatial practices, spatial politics and imaginations as well possibilities for doing and being together. This year the project is celebrating 10 years.

Polonca Lovšin (1970) is an architect and artist based in Ljubljana. In 2015 she completed her Ph.D. of visual arts with focus on artistic research at Bauhaus University, Weimar, Germany. In her work she looks for self-organised initiatives and searches for alternative ways of living and working in the perspective of climate change. Beside her own practice she works within the association Kud Obrat (Stefan Doepner, Urška Jurman, Polonca Lovšin, Apolonija Šušteršič), association of artist, architects and cultural workers. Their activities focus on politics of public space, research and encouragement of temporary use of space, self-organisation and idea of commoning. Well known project that they initiated in Ljubljana is a community garden Beyond a Construction Site (2010-present).

After the lectures Q&A and a short discussion will follow.

< KUD Obrat. Ecological gardening workshop with Boris Fras, May 2011. Photo: Drago Kos

The conference is part of the Risk Change (2016—2020) project co-financed by the Creative Europe program of the European Union and Ministry of Public Administration of RS.



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