A Matter of (Our) Time 

By creative Agent Bertrand Duplat (FR) and research Agent Julien Dossier (FR)

Precious food is a fertile title for this programme. It hints at the value of a vital ingredient of life, currently perceived as a commoditised energy intake. It opens the field of innovation and new sources of value creation in relation to the food chain. With “Grow”, the focus is on food producers, food resources and the challenge to promote their location, production and use.

The place of food has changed in our urban lives. With an urban life absorbing more time online and in front of a TV or within the bounds of the built part of a city, seasons and natural varieties are disappearing from the urbanite’s radar. In pre-crisis Europe, food comes packaged, processed, sanitised, plentiful at all times of the year, with ample choice amongst branded suppliers. Knowing the name of the farmer has now become a rarity, knowing the variety of the ingredients used has become an oddity, knowing about the food production process has become a fringe expertise. Despite this marginalisation of the place and the places of food in our busy modern lives, food remains our vital ingredient, needed three times a day.

The point of producing food locally is only valid if food is consumed locally. We designed a map showing where the actors of the food chain can be located. A rich map which can be further explored, with a smartphone, to know more about each of the points highlighted. It is an invitation to meet new people and promote a new brand of people, an invitation to play with the idea of local food and what it means for each of us.

To widen its use, we designed a game plan for the map, where the smartphone reveals an enigma at each stage of the food chain, inviting the user to discover more about this particular actor before discovering the next stage in the chain. The game is designed as a quest, where users progress towards a goal while meeting intermediate challenges. The goal is to assemble all the contents for a local meal: recipes, producers, ingredients, chefs, kitchens, guests.

We designed this game plan to be attractive and accessible to a wide range of users, from teenagers to parents to grandparents. We encourage each player to record his/her interactions with the food actors involved in assembling the ingredients of their meal. We also invite participants to record the final meal on video and in pictures.

We created this process so as to give visibility to the meals by encouraging new food actors to participate in the quests, inviting new guests to the table and spreading the word in the newspapers and in the local community about the game sessions.


Nine Food Actions

By creative Agent John Thackara (FR)

“Be aware that as the subject of food goes up the agenda, and as more and more people are involved, the diversity of possible approaches and techniques is increasing; and so the whole subject of food can be much more exciting and varied than just some rather dutiful return to the land and reexamination of life as a peasant. There will be a lot of manual work as we increase our local food resilience, but it doesn’t have to be a dead copy of what went before”.

Thackara is interested in the topic of food as a common denominator in a sustainable world. He collects stories of people around the globe who are working on different projects and experiments to improve knowledge and build a network of people at a local level. Out of these stories he created a “tasting menu” for the Ideal Lab’ with different projects for provocation and stimulation which can be tested, adapted and improved. These “Nine Food Actions” are examples of ways to intervene in food systems from different angles with the idea to change the bigger picture.

In Thackaras opinion we will need to use a range of these   techniques to become resilient in food, because resilience is not just about a steady supply of basics, it is also about diversity and having different ways to grow and produce food available at different times.

1. Mapping local resources
2. Connecting growers & citizens
3. New co-operatives
4. Participation of young people
5. Re-use of buildings and spaces
6. Seeds and seed banking
7. Herbs, foraging
8. Connected gardening
9. Adapt other practices

Tomgods and Floke 

By creative Agent Siri Berqvam (NO)

Siri Berqvams work is about translation. The starting point for her sculptures are everyday items, preferably white goods and packaging that we surround ourselves with.
Washing machines, vacuum cleaners, radios, canned food and eating tools are some of the ingredients in her thematically extensive project. Berqvam has chosen to give these mass-produced things a new common unified language. She sews sculptures; which at first glance represent well-known consumer articles, complete with technical, realistically portrayed details as labels, volume knobs, etc.

Washing machines and canned goods reappear in a new and softer parallel world, whose synthetic nature allows them to point to new references that they are usually not associated with. Fabrics and textures in the sculptures exude softness and intimacy, and therefore evoke easily, associations to children’s lives, surrounded as they are by soft stuffed animals in all imaginable variations. But, as in fairy tales it is a short way from safety to chaos. An atmosphere of unresolved drama, horror and lack of control can certainly occur in such a padded universe.

We find an informal language in the use of materials in Berqvams work. Method and fabrics that are usually intended for toys have now been raised to contemporary art. She often focuses on the decay of our consumer articles when they no longer have utilitarian­ value and are reduced to junk. Useless in our practical life, but – as it turns out – very useful in an artistic context. In her recent work she takes a step further into a fairy tale world where decay and modernity meet insidious forces of nature.




Scenario Transform

By creative Agents Jo Zarth (DE), Runa Klock (NO), Anthony Quinn (UK) and Marc Brétillot (FR)
Participants: Master students from Bergen Academy of Art and Design (KHiB) Åshild Kyte, Vera Kleppe, Caroline Grepperud, Anna Guseva and Katharina Messy. Coop donated food that they couldn't sell but still was edible to Transplant during the workshop.

The present actors in the business of transforming raw produce into food have focused on processing it into fast food. This trend is turning and associations like Slow Food, are looking to ancient knowledge to create new meaning. Can the act of transforming raw food into an experience be social and communicative through a system? Could it give me a short break on my fast track? Could it be inspiring to try something similar at home, in a minute?

Local cooks are invited to share their tricks and recipes in transforming local produce. With creatives, industries and during workshops, they will, rich with this knowledge, create mobile units of transformation, taking raw foods and making them available for consumption.

The Units
– are dedicated to produce one single culinary transformation experience.
– shall generate a new experience around taste.
– will have a limited amount of technology, resources, materials and energy they can use.
– shall use simple materials and constructions dedicated to that particular style of cooking.
– should be informative and transparent on the food they are offering.
– should invite people and give them a possibility to socialise.

The outcomes of “Transform” were a series of live events: workshops, dinners and exhibitions, involving a large audience from private guests to school classes, designers to master students. “You add value while manipulating food” said Marc Brétillot. Concrete results were generated such as videos, performances and new product designs, powered by the dogma of minimising food waste and empathising the act of cooking with raw local food.

Use/Reuse Workshop

by Marc Brétillot (FR), Runa Klock (NO) and Anthony Quinn (UK)

“Of all food produced in the world, up to 35% is wasted and thrown”

This incredible fact was the starting point for a workshop lead by the Agents Marc Brétillot, Runa Klock and Anthony Quinn. Marc Brétillot, who earlier made a food performance at Transplant during  the  event “Cycle of Mutation – Disappearance”, explored together with the other Agents and students from KHIB, mentored­ by Anthony Quinn, ways of transforming food and reusing the waste. Together they defined “Preciosity” and asked the question­: What is waste? With the goal to transmit more awareness of the preciosity of food and the waste connected to it, the Agents and students experimented with installations, videos and models. Each evening during the workshop week, the students, the Agents and the Transplanteurs reused out of date food donated by local supermarket KIWI, to transform into a delicious common dinner­ with the help of the chef Christel Eide. The workshop week climaxed with the Use/Reuse Food Performance.



Small Business Reconstructed

by creative Agent Jo Zarth (DE)

Creating miniatures and models and the feeling of surprise they elicit is perhaps always popular when it is no longer possible to measure a new, grown world with the measuring tapes of the existing system. Then systematists check their calibration tools and artists start to work. They make the world smaller. They create miniatures to look down on them and to get a new perspective on things.

Jo Zarth, model maker and designer, has entered the subcutaneous world of Chinese skyscrapers and migrant workers’ settlements with its miniaturised hot food stand models. Zarth makes these models because, to him, they serve as a reference value for an economic model: a miniature of global economy,  often  illegal  and  far  below  the  huge  sales  volume of global trade and capital transactions, but still  tightly  interwoven  within  them.  Without globalisation, no Chinese economic miracle; without  the  Chinese  economic  miracle,  no  hungry workers and employees fed by cooks pragmatically and with tradition in crooked installations in the hearts of the megacities. A global cooking precarity that rules over chilli oil and slices of ginger and satisfies the need for dishes that taste like home. Regional cooking in the melting pots of the global economy, the ore for the woks shipped from Vladivostok, the wood of the knife’s handle from the Amazon River delta, Coca-Cola – the import of an American cultural asset.

Zarth’s hot food stand miniatures continue this game of deception. The propane gas bottles have once been Kinder surprise eggs with German imprint but made in china, the gas lines are made from iPod headphone cables. However, Zarth’s most important materials are offset printing plates required for printing newspapers as well as leaflets, for power outlet strips made in Nanjing. Zarth buys anything that cannot be made out of odds and ends from specialist shops for dolls house furniture and accessories, ordering on the internet and receiving material from England and the USA: global cycles for making small models, instead of unique valuables, small business reconstructed.

His diminished wok pans, folding tables and propane  gas  bottles  follow  a  typology;  they  are isolated details of Chinese street life seen through the cool eyes of the systematist than the revelling eyes of the tourist. With inconceivable richness in detail and a trained eye for shabbiness, Zarth prevents his models from being cute or exotically romanticised. With startling illusionism as an extra, there is a plastic bag with microcosmic scallions dangling from a motor scooter handlebar and the miniaturised wok is covered with a greasy layer.

Zarth’s haul from China is perhaps a testimony of the wars fought today, in front of the computers of exporters and day traders. A war of purchasing power parities: Who will be stronger? Will there be more German tourists in China or more Chinese tourists in Germany in the future? Also a war about the direction of the imperial view: Is China a former semi-colony or is it a colonist itself now?

Anti-idyll with a grease film, Zarth’s miniatures help to explore this foreign world of China that gives you the idea of being a model for our world; efficiency, reload of modernity, a form of urbanism already pronounced dead in the “old” world. The “new” world of the lashingly booming Asia is standardised by Zarth’s hot food stand models using exactly the shabbiness and improvisation that contradicts with the shiny skyscrapers; because at the feet of the Chinese dreams are nailed wooden fences and people craving for dumplings and stir-fry dishes.

With his models, Zarth attempts to systematise everyday life beyond our imagination of the Chinese boom in a curious and empathetic way. He is driven by the wish to understand a part of the country with the help of his hot food stands. Zarth’s models capture the poetry of life-size hot food stands. The perforated slats and chipboards are the place where the cooks compete to win the favour of the palate. By miniaturising the hot food stands, Zarth boils down this poetry.

Street Kitchen Models by Jo Zarth