Critical Cooking Show - Nick Axel, Nikolaus Hirsch, Mariana Pestana, Sumitra Upham, and Billie Muraben - Editorial
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Critical Cooking Show
October 17, 2020
Critical Cooking Show

Editorial

The 1997 television set for Martha Stewart Living. Source: The Martha Stewart Blog. Design: Studio Maria João Macedo.

Critical Cooking Show is a collaboration between e-flux Architecture and the Istanbul Design Biennial within the context of its fifth edition, Empathy Revisited: Designs for more than one, curated by Mariana Pestana with Sumitra Upham and Billie Muraben. One of the three main axes of the Biennial, it features videos by Nelly Ben Hayoun and chef Rabah Ourrad; BUREAU (Daniel Zamarbide), chef Walter El Nagar, and Filipe Felizardo; Vivian Caccuri; Zuri Camille de Souza; depatriarchise design, Mayar El-Bakry, and Romi Lee; Dirty Furniture Magazine; Laila Gohar; Ben Goldner and Emma Leigh Macdonald; Ilana Harris-Babou; Asako Iwama, Iris Lacoudre, and Camille Sineau; Valeria Meiller and Agustin Schang; MOLD and Yardy World; Mutfak (The Kitchen) Workshop; Luiza Prado de O. Martins; Mariana Sanchez Salvador and Rain Wu; Linda Schilling Cuellar; Aysenaz Toker and Merve Tuna; 2050+ and -orama; and Laura Wilson.

It is impossible to be alone in the kitchen. Cooking not only brings people together in a space, or an evening, or a community, but connects the present, the here and now, to other times, other places, other traditions. And food, of course, always comes from somewhere. Taste intimately bridges between here and elsewhere, between the human and more-than-human; at times erasing the politics of that distance, while at others, exposing and relishing in it.

With little else to do and nowhere else to go, we find ourselves in the kitchen. Not always knowing what to do, we turn to others in whatever way we can. For cooking is not only an act of making, but also of learning. Recipes are a media for ancestral communication, affected as they are by the noise of history. And when we cook, we interpret; we position ourselves, articulating relations of identity and difference, affection and disavowal.

Over the past seventy-five years, televised cooking shows have become an immensely popular media form for disseminating knowledge about what to do with food. Often highly produced and featuring celebrity chefs and personalities, they offer windows into idealized kitchens and masterful, if not magical practices. They serve as sources of inspiration for countless millions of people who might not otherwise care about or have access to such resources.

Through the act of cooking, kitchens establish implicit, visceral understandings of the world. No recipe is neutral; no tool universal. Since the advent of social media, and particularly since lockdown, people around the world have opened their personal kitchens to the unknown viewer. As an intimate, geosocial, critical space, kitchens are places for stories to be told; for new kinships to be made, and new alliances to be forged.

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Critical Cooking Show is a collaboration between e-flux Architecture and the Istanbul Design Biennial within the context of its fifth edition, Empathy Revisited: Designs for more than one.

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