The winter of 2017/2018 delivered an abundant cabbage harvest. This resulted in a surplus in farming, and farmers were unable to sell the harvest for a fair price. This prompted Mediamatic to take in the surplus cabbage and devote our winter program to food surplus, value and abundance. We've stacked, fermented, buried, learned, eaten lots of cabbage soup, and with that, reinstalled value into something the economy deems valueless.
Various artists found different ways to connect with the white cabbage. Anastasia Loginova read them Tolstoj, Tomislav Feller wrapped himself in the white leaves for a dose of sonic manipulation. For Arne Hendriks, the abundant harvest mainly asked towards the mostly prompted him to ask questions regarding satisfaction in the midst of abundance.
Together with artist Arne Hendriks we organised a series of Tuesday nights on which we started a conversation about the current food economy. With several guests and chefs, we tried out the best cabbage dishes. This resulted in a white cabbage in a salt crust, a sushi made entirely from white cabbage and discussions and conversations regarding the value of our food in times of globalisation.
Eventually we mainly celebrated the abundant harvest with our festive Abundance Dinner. This dinner, during which the dozens of dishes all featured white cabbage as their main ingredient, was put together by Arne Hendriks and chef Thorwald Voss. Together with various speakers, we tried to find a future wherein there exists a balance between supply and demand, desire and satisfaction, and abundance and shortage.
Communication through Smells
In January, we organized our first international multi-day smell symposium. Together with artist Klara Ravat and Saskia Wilson Brown, director of the Institute for Art and Olfaction in Los Angeles, we invited dozens of smell professionals. During a two day program, they attempted to find new systems for classifying smells. How does one categorize things as immediate as smells, and is it even necessary?
Art Olfaction Amsterdam
In the summer of 2018 we started an intensive collaboratino with the Institute for Art and Olfaction, a sister institute in Los Angeles. Together, we organized an extensive summer program around scent and scent culture. In our renovated and expanded Aromalab we held weekly perfume making workshops, open blending sessions and an open lab for anyone interested in discovering and learning about scent as a creative medium.
In additon to our open lab, we organized a weekend around scent and Intellectual Property. Who owns an aromatic molecule? Is it possible to restructure this property? On July 28th, Willem Velthoven and Saskia Wilson-Brown talked to Paul Keller, Tobias Cohen Jehoram and other invited guests and interested parties.
On July 21st, Maxwell Williams led an international Wikipedia Edit Day. From Amsterdam to Montreal and LA, we edited a great number of Wikipedia pages on aromatic substances, aromatic molecules, and various perfumers.
On Monday nights, we organized a great variety of evenings, from a workshop about sex smells, to lab security. We ended the intensive month with a big Olfactory Game Show, led by Kendra Gaeta.
Bodily fludis, medicine and beauty products
In 2016, we shifted our focus from the possibilities and applications of human urine, to those of all bodily fluids. In 2018, we continued our research under the name Secretopia. In September, we started a year-long collaboration with Isabel Burr-Raty, who, among other things, presented her Beauty Kit Focus Group with us. Beauty products made from bodily fludis question the power of the vagina, and question Western science.
During Science Weekend, Kuang-Yi Ku presented his clinic for future Chinese Medicine, based on a hybrid combination of traditional medicine and synthetic biology. During the Tiger Penis workshop he questioned the way in which the values of traditional Chinese medicine clash with those of Western science.
Neo Futurist Dinners
After the succesful start of our Neo Futurist Dinners in 2017, we organised new spectacle dinners, for which we invited various artists to come into our kitchen. Fashion designer Schueller de Waal and the chefs from Haagse Hapjes brought a dinner that was entirely made up of substances that promote happy feelings. From slurping together, to a course of meditation and edible frustration during dessert, our guests went home well-fed.
Together with students from the Deisgn Academy Eindhoven, Man and Food department, we organized DimensionAir. A dinner during which the food changes shape and substance between courses.
The next edition, with four dinner evenings, took place in September. Together with food designer Giulia Soldati and chef Tommaso Buresti we ate A La Mano. A five course meal designed to eat with your hands, to experience taste in a more direct and completely tangible way.
During Bodemdrang, our seventh Neo Futurist Dinner, we connected to the ground underneath our feet. In six courses, food artist Suzanne Bernhardt and Chef Thorwald Voss led us into an underground world of edible clay, mud and lava. Digging deeper into the earth, layer after layer, the visitors experienced a unique culinary trip. We connected to the world, but also to the people around us, by sharing food using utensils, custom made by the artist.
2018 also saw the festive start to the collaberation between the eleven programming institutions surrounding the Oosterdok. On April 21st, we organised an open day together, where there was much to see and do, in and around the Oosterdok. In our CleanLab you could get a tattoo done of your favorite microorganism, as they were drawn by Ernst Haeckel. To complement this, we exhibited the most beautiful of Hernst Haeckel's Kunstformen Der Natur posters in our lock gate warehouse. This exhibition can be visited during the spring.
Mediamatic developed in collaboration with The Institute for Art and Olfaction, Play the City and five perfumers, a sensuous game around city planning for the Uitmarkt 2018. Five tailor-made fragrances give expression to various prospective visions of the city. All Uitmarkt visitors were offered the possibility to consider these potential futures and play an interactive fragrance game to get their perfume or future of preference. The game stimulated people to think together about the use of the Navy Terrain. People were brought in contact by the use of scent and encouraged to discuss future possibilities. The smells are now permanently on display at Mediamatic.
This Museumnight was all about enjoying art with our senses except sight. What we don’t see. During this night four projects were on show: The Skin Is An Extension Of The Brain by Margherita Soldati, O’Tristana by Zeger Reyers, Inverted Soundwalk by Natali Blugerman and the Invisible Collection. After exploring the sensorial art, food was served in Mediamatic ETEN. Dishes that could be enjoyed while being absolutely blindfolded. While experiencing these works of art one got to explore what it means to enjoy art without the sense we rely on the most, sight.
What do you hear, smell, feel and fantasise about while enjoying an artwork? In November we launched the Invisible Collection podcast. The Invisible Collection holds the most beautiful compilation of auditory artwork. Art connoisseurs described the experience of a piece of their own choosing. People like Dirk van Weelden, Valentijn Byvanck, Wim Pijbes and Charles Esche are among the narrators. Mediamatic has opened an exhibit where you can enjoy art without needing to see.
Our workshops enable our audience to themselves learn to work with various techniques and materials. During the winter months we organized several workshops around white cabbage. For instance, we taught people to make kimchi from European cabbage, as opposed to the Asian cabbage variety. We also worked with an authentic pit-fermentation technique.
During the summer months we started new monthly soap workshops with product designer Liza Witte, in our clean lab. During an intensive day, the audience learns how to make soap using the cold-process method.
After the perfume workshops and our daily Open Aroma Lab during Art Olfaction Amsterdam, we continued, after the summer, with perfume workshops with local perfumer Frank Bloem. These workshops are primarily aimed at introducing scent as a creative medium. Participants get to know various materials, and learn about the make up of synthetic and natural aromats, and how they differ.
In addition, we continued our (at this point) regular basic workshops around new biomaterials: for instance, we learned to grow our own mushrooms, to make Tempeh, and to build a circular urban farming Aquaponics system.