Cooking Sections / Undamming Rivers

31 aug 30 oct 2022

Bonniers Konsthall is proud to present spatial practitioners Cooking Sections and their most expansive exhibition to date. Using installation, performance and video, they explore the ongoing environmental crisis in relation to how to eat and live as humans change climates. To engage with this urgent question, Bonniers Konsthall has invited Cooking Sections to make a major exhibition that explores Swedish ecologies and local interactions between land and water.

Structured as a performative installation, the exhibition presents a trilogy of large scale works and a new site-responsive commission. These four works focus on the impact of food production based on extractive systems that push the environment to the verge of collapse.

The trilogy When [Salmon Salmon [Salmon]] (2020-2022) specifically concerns farmed salmon as a constructed animal, one of the most recently domesticated and industrialised species in history. The first installation, Salmon: A Red Herring (2020), is a large-scale cyclorama that questions what colours we expect in our ‘natural’ environment. It asks us to examine how our perception of colour is changing as we change the planet. The second installation, Salmon: Traces of Escapees (2021), is an immersive film installation that explores the environmental impact of salmon farms, which can be traced far beyond the circumference of open-net pens, and everything that escapes through them. The final chapter, Salmon: Feed Chains (2022), is a performative installation that subjects the audience to the automated feeding mechanism of the salmon farm, like salmon that are made to swim round and round. The piece revolves around the ecosystems that are transformed into feed, the landscapes that are fed to farmed fish and the pellets that are consumed by salmon.

In Sweden, fish hatcheries appeared as a consequence of hydropower dams. Energy companies have built dams throughout Sweden for decades, and established salmon-breeding programmes to ‘compensate’ for habitat loss and migration obstacles, in order to ‘sustain’ fish populations. The exhibition concludes with an ambitious new piece, Undamming Rivers (2022), which provides the name for the exhibition, where Cooking Sections engages in the process of removing hydropower dams. These structures are seen as a paradigm of modernity that, despite their aspiration to produce ‘clean energy’, needs to be reconsidered. Thousands of hydrodams are located all over Sweden but especially in Sápmi. Many are redundant, obsolete or produce very little electricity, but still have a harmful impact on human livelihoods and river ecologies.

Relating to the 50th anniversary of the landmark UN Conference on the Human Environment held in Stockholm in 1972, the piece delivers a proposition for the future. Undamming Rivers is a call for action manifested in an stylised map of Sweden’s salmon rivers that are obstructed by concrete barriers. The accompanying collages depict a series of dams that could be removed in what the artists refer to as a proposal for a major land-art project in the climate crisis. If land-art historically made additions to landscapes to highlight the temporalities between humans and the environment, Cooking Sections focuses on the potential of removing redundant infrastructure from the face of the Earth.

As part of this exhibition, Bonniers Konsthall has also engaged in the project Becoming CLIMAVORE, which involves museums removing farmed salmon from the menus of their cafes and restaurants and introducing CLIMAVORE dishes, made with ingredients that benefit ecological regeneration and social reparation, improving soil and water quality, while cultivating marine and inland habitats. Prompted by the exhibition, Bonniers Konsthall has removed farmed salmon from our restaurant’s menu.

In times when humans are destructively terraforming planet Earth on a rapid and global scale, the exhibition proposes an ethics of care in relation to forests and waters; seeking to contribute towards more sustainable futures.

Undamming Rivers is the result of an extended collaboration with Cooking Sections initiated by Bonniers Konsthall in the autumn of 2019. Since then, they have spent extended periods in Sweden, talking to multiple experts in the field, and researching Swedish ecologies and local interactions between land and water.


Salmon: Feed Chains (2022), co-produced by Bonniers Konsthall and Bard College. Thanks to Nordiska Konstförbundet.

Biography

Cooking Sections examines the systems that organise the world through food. Using site-responsive installation, performance and video, they explore the overlapping boundaries between art, architecture, ecology and geopolitics. Established in London in 2013 by Daniel Fernández Pascual and Alon Schwabe, their practice uses food as a lens and a tool to observe landscapes in transformation. They have worked on multiple iterations of the long-term site-responsive CLIMAVORE project since 2015, exploring how to eat as humans change climates

Their work has been exhibited at Tate Britain, Serpentine Galleries, SALT, Bonniers Konsthall, Lafayette Anticipations, Grand Union, Atlas Arts, HKW, Storefront for Art and Architecture; the Taipei Biennial, 58th Venice Biennale, Shanghai Biennial, Los Angeles Public Art Triennial, Sharjah Architecture Triennial, Sharjah Art Biennial, Performa17, Manifesta12, and New Orleans Triennial among others. They have been residents at Headlands Center for the Arts, California; and The Politics of Food at Delfina Foundation, London. They are part of British Art Show 9. They lead a studio unit at the 
Royal College of Art, London, and were guest professors at the Academy of Fine Arts, Munich.

Cooking Sections were nominated for the Turner Prize in 2021. They were awarded the Special Prize at the 2019 Future Generation Art Prize and were nominated for the 
Visible Award for socially-engaged practices. Daniel is the recipient of the 2020 Harvard GSD Wheelwright Prize for Being Shellfish.