How can a kitchen be a cornerstone of an art institution as a part of a neighbourhood?
With a participatory approach to art and food, together with a taste-driven gastronomy one can, in the long run, create traditions as well as identity based on the area. Working interdisciplinary in the creation of a new kitchen, a wide range of new practices can emerge that intertwine with other parts of the food system.
Making a kitchen a central space in an art-center is a way to interconnect cultural experience and broaden what art can be. The Fittja kitchen offers a space where experiments on the subject of meals and all the parts that add up to a meal can be considered as material for art projects and production. It also acts as a hub in the neighborhood where participants decide what’s created in the space. This fits well with the idea of how Botkyrka art-center wants to work in Fittja. By beginning with this participatory approach to art and working with other disciplines in the creation of a new kitchen, a wide range of new practices can emerge that intertwine with other parts of the food system. A kitchen residency, where professionals from gastronomy can do work based in Fittja, will be created. The interactions aim to bring a development of existing food traditions. Another idea is to allow the more experimental side of cooking be a part of the kitchen. The connection to art practices and theory leading to new approaches within the culinary arts. A layered platform where social and cultural circles move into each other.
Fittja is a part of Greater Stockholm. The suburbs are geographically quite isolated, placed as a small islands with large green areas between. When it comes to society functions such as schools, some suburbs tend to be under-prioritized. Fittja experi-ences a constant transition of people from different countries, both groups and individuals. There are also residents who have lived here for a long time. In this culinary space a lot of traditions are passing through, in a constantly changing environment. Here it can be a challenge to have interactions between good home cooks, chefs, artists, and academics. Connections to the world outside Sweden are very close in area like Fittja, as many inhabitants have relatives all over the world. So to use what’s produced in Sweden and apply it with a wide variety of food traditions, a new cuisine can be created.
Today few projects are done with residents’ control. A kitchen that´s a part of an art-center and interconnected to other various part of society is one way to create innovative gastronomy. With a taste-driven gastronomy one can, in the long run, create traditions based on the area. When a cuisine takes a stepping stone from the new gastronomic movement of the Nordic and connects it to traditions existing in culturally diverse areas as Fittja, new versions of Nordic cuisine will emerge. One can find new ways of preparing food items that are traditional here in Sweden. Maybe with a kitchen as a cornerstone in a space with a constant movement, a culinary context may develop as a ground zero, where new ideas might see the light.
Another way to contextualize gastronomy in Fittja is to connect it to the well-functioning allotments gardens (a small plot of land made available for individuals, for growing food plants). Here many people grow different types of vegetables they can’t easily find in stores, or that tend to lack desired qualities when bought commercially. The allotments lend vibrancy to Fittja and fill a culinary void. The interest for growing is big in these suburbs and small markets for allotment and garden produce can be an option.
A group of students did a residency some years ago in Fittja. What they discovered was how big the amount of empty land was that surrounds the high-rise housing area. In between and around the houses there is still a lot of green and fertile land for urban farming. The discourse of condensing the city by incorporating urban farming has an opportunity to come to life in this part of Greater Stockholm. The farms could be midsized farms and create work opportunities. They could produce for schools and some can also be community owned. To be in the outer rim of an urban area can be a strong advantage because of more bigger free spaces.
When creating a different way to shape, control, and plan a neighbourhood including these concepts, a kitchen at the center of an art institution might be an ideal start.
In the autumn of 2014, the Nordic Council of Ministers invited a group of leading players from across the Nordic Region to discuss their visions for the future of Nordic food. This essay formed part of this initiative #Nordicfood2024