Kitchen Lab: A Mobile Hearth for Collectivist Action
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Kitchen Lab: A Mobile Hearth for Collectivist Action

The kitchen has changed. Over the centuries, the kitchen has evolved from a fire pit and a flat stone into an elaborate place for storing, making, and eating food. But in recent years, notwithstanding the rise of “the foodie,” it has devolved for many to little more than a microwave and a sink. We eat out or on the run, and when we do use kitchens, prep work has been outsourced to back-room workers making convenience foods, as science and technology streamline food production from field to table. But go to any gathering or party, and you’ll know exactly where guests and hosts will be hanging out.

This summer, Open Field artists-in-residence Carl and Betsy DiSalvo (researchers and designers from Georgia Tech) join the Walker and specialists from the University of Minnesota Landscape Architecture/College of Design explore the inevitable pull of the kitchen as a social space: a place for sharing knowledge, culture, and community.

The DiSalvos are expanding, in part, on their “urban foraging” workshop held last summer at Open Field. In unpacking a constellation of kitchen issues—from organic farming to urban food deserts— that daylong project included forays into downtown Minneapolis’ skyways, farmer’s markets, and storefronts to source materials for a shared meal.

This June, we’ll focus on reconceiving the kitchen: its ingredients, structure, and functions. A core team of the DiSalvos, the Walker’s Susy Bielak and Sarah Schultz, and the University of Minnesota’s Rebecca Krinke, Anna Bierbrauer, Erin Garnaas-Holmes, Derek Schilling, and Emily Stover will team up with local experts and students to consider that space from an array of vantage points: studio art, landscape architecture, food systems, urban planning, design, ceramics, public health, cultural studies, theater, engineering, and more.

As part of the project, we are initiating a university course in which participants will design and build a new kind of kitchen—a mobile, modular “lab” with tools for use on Open Field and in the city.

You’re invited to take part in the residency in a series of special events as we explore ways that a new form of kitchen can spark new kinds of social interaction and community engagement. Stay tuned to the Kitchen Lab blog for details.