Irthi Contemporary Crafts Council, Echoes of Alchemy
Irthi, Contemporary Crafts Council in the UAE, called Studiopepe, to make a reflection about food and how to preserve it. Studiopepe devised a collection of utensils for the table and kitchen, for preserving and transforming food, such as dryers, fermenters, sprouters, and water containers.
Studiopepe, spent a residential week in the Emirates, togheter with Casalinghe di Tokyo, who curated the book and the food project, to experience the sourcing and the manipulation of ingredients, and gaining familiarity with the artisanal techniques in weaving and pottery.
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Taking inspiration from the old alchemical tools from the Sarjah history museum, the Studio designed archetypal forms that resemble small architectures, minarets, and silos. Studiopepe worked with black clay, hand-molded and fired at high temperatures; and with the woven crafts created by local women who practice traditional handiwork techniques that have been passed down through generations. The Studio engaged in the exploration of both matter and form to create aesthetically appealing objects, like small domestic architectures, aimed at reviving ancient traditions and bringing contemporary solutions to the fundamental needs that underlie human development. Throughout this endeavor, the Studio were guided by the awareness that preparing and preserving food in hot and remote areas of the planet has always posed formidable challenges. If technology has contributed to addressing some of them, they remain highly topical in times of energy crisis, riddled by problems of soil quality, food and water waste, and natural resources depletion. This project, is a reflection on these issues and a recovering of ancient yet still relevant techniques.
The processes of food transformation and preservation are somehow linked to the notion of alchemical transmutation.