spice routes

We can live our lives as if it were the Spice Route… with no end in sight to fear nor to pursue, merely a constant cycle of expeditions and discoveries…

Se acerca el momento de elegir, el miedo o el hambre… – Maria Folguera

But couldn’t everyone’s life a work of art? Why should the lamp or house be an object, but not our life? – Michel Foucault

Btour 00

Stew :: a slow-cooked dish composed of several distinct spices and ingredients whose qualities dissolve, diffuse, merge and collaborate with others in the process of cooking with heat. What emerges is a well blended dish that has a taste and feeling of wholeness. In a stew, one does not know where a spice begins and ends, but one is conscious that it is there. It is a rounded, rhizomic experience.

Our modern historical narratives are marked by abstract frames or -isms: colonialism, imperialism, industrialism, fascism, capitalism etc. And while they have rhetorically made sense of an expanding universe of the past, there is little recognition of the relation of this sense to our sensual and embodied relationship with memories; memories that belong to the realm of experience and what we call the practice of everyday. What connection is there with how we choreograph our daily lives, how we approach the future, and how histories are created and eventually written? What democratic strategies are possible to re-write or re-member history, especially if some of them remain as painful memories, ones that we try to forget, or cause us to remain in conflict with ourselves or the other? Is there an opening outside the wheel or turns of archiving our past upon layers and layers of new abstract concepts on top of what are already in use, some with prefixes such as neo- and post-?

Spice Routes reflects at ways we remember and make history through the sensorial and ritualistic process of cooking. It is a practice of observing thousand year old migrations within everyday kitchens. On one hand, the philosophical route aims to map connections between established narratives of the past and more fluid, unstable processes of piecing memories together. On the other hand, it uses nomadic strategies to approach the uncertainty what has not happened yet, as a place one could inhabit where everyday becomes a quest for discovery. Through enacting contemporary social ethnographies starting with cooking experiences, the creation of spice routes serve as edible experiments in collaborative improvisations of producing rituals and a sense of ‘nowness’ that re-seasons the past, creating ‘umami’ sensations as an invitation to renew our remembrances. The stew is a symbolic ritual object of the spice route, it is the meeting place. The ‘cooking process’ that becomes open to participation imbues a sensuality of emergency and play to both how we cook a present that is always fugitive and to the past that will never be again other than renewed creative representations. Spice routes embark on a poetic itinerary into the multiple layers of our awareness of reality, fusing the collective and individual, the fictive and the real into an informal atmosphere where something else could emerge yet is open-ended. It reconciles grand Historical frames with our micropolitical heterologies. It could take place anywhere and the maps created are live, unstable, inclusive and embodied. It is inspired by the legendary Silk Route / Spice Trade, a both imagined and real historical series of routes that birthed colonialisms and connected the so-called east and west. This nomadic route lives on, history is invited to happen as a rhizome of relations, accidents, and serendipities. It is not yet, but can always be, always open-ended, subject to change. There is no conclusion, it does not belong to our time.

The project is DIY-designed research and learning process that will be facilitated and made possible through a fluid network of encounters, collaborations, sontaminations, friendships, making-a-living and a continuous exchange of creative economy. The itinerary is in itself a time scultpure, a way of framing the emergent or a mapping of organic encounters and serendipities that sees the choreography of weaving connections and making something with what is already there.

Image: Spicy Histories, guided tour performance at the B-Tour, Belgrade International Theatre Festival, September 2014. A part of the tour consisted of guiding a group of people and navigating into a marketplace with their eyes closed.

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