The domestic energy landscapes installation at the British Academy 2019 Summer Showcase
In 2019 I collaborated with Mozambican artist Michelle Cook to think about artistic representations of urban energy landscapes. After some discussions, Michelle created an immersive installation focusing on my work on cooking in Mozambique. The installation included the demarcation of physical space, a soundscape and a series of cooking objects.
Michelle described her work as follows:
The installation uses sound to evoke the domestic space in Maputo. It responds directly to the concept of landscape as an arrangement of objects and the soundscape as an an acoustic environment that is situated and culturally-specific. The characterization of the urban energy landscape as "connective tissue" shows how energy becomes so embedded in ordinary existence that its usage is imperceptible and ritualized. This installation also explores the notion of sound as part of the connective tissue that emerges from (as it also permeates) human movement within the urban environment.
Sounds evoke a culturally-specific spectrum of meanings and interpretations. However, they are perceived through the body, so they are immediate, elusive and ephemeral. Listening is a cultural activity which generates a heard object just as it discovers it. The act of listening is selective and critical: it differentiates between sound and noise, then identifies rhythms that gradually bring sounds into a familiar acoustic space. Rhythm is an articulation of time and a grouping relationship that relies upon our perception or anticipation of pattern or recurrence.
This installation combines the sounds of four artefacts, including a cookstove. The selection of three other cooking implements emphasizes how 'quotidian acts of energy provision and use also play a key role in reproducing energy landscapes through interactions with a wide range of energy artefacts'. The soundtrack explores the transformation of noise into sound, and toys with the impact of rhythm on familiarity. The gradual introduction of sounds seeks to produce doubt, which it later resolved by associating the heard object with its material counterpart within a familiar pattern of domestic use.
Press to listen to the exhibition soundscape
Press to visit the 2019 Summer Showcase site at the British Academy
Pestle and mortar (English)
Pilão de mão (Portuguese)
Pestle and mortar
Small wooden pestle and mortar, typically used to prepare marinades and spices. Larger versions of this object are typically used to make flours of various grains and rice, and to break down tough edible leaves.
Height 160mm; Diameter 105mm (Mortar)
Length 200mm; Diameter 32mm (Pestle)
Coconut-grater stool (English)
Ralador de cocô (Portuguese)
Coconut-grating stool made of wood and iron from the region of Pemba, Mozambique. This type of stool is used widely across the country by both women and men. The blade is made of beaten iron from melted nails. The user will sit on the stool with the blade between their legs or with their legs off to the side, grating the flesh from the inside of broken coconut halves
Height 168mm; Length 445mm; Width 165mm
Charcoal Cook Stove (English)
Fogão de carvão (Portuguese)
Fugao ya makala (Changana)
Fugao ya makala (Sena)
Fugao ya makala (Maconde)
Fugao ya makala (Xitsua)
Manual hand blender (English)
Charcoal cook stove
The cook stove production process is small scale and uses construction metal bars and recycled metals which are collected from the urban environment. such as a disused car wheel. The design of the cook stove to include "one mouth" or "two mouths" responds to the needs of the family. A small charcoal fire is lit, and a pot is placed overhead. The fumes from the cook stove are very detrimental to human health. Various initiatives to replace locally crafted cookstoves with safer alternatives are now common in Mozambique.
Recycled metal; various
Height 210mm; Diameter 290mm
Hand blender; manual
Manual hand blender used to break down pulses after cooking. This kitchen utensil is made from a thin branch. The raw material is collected from the natural environment, often by children. The maker strips excess branches from the main piece, and removes the bark from the branch so as to clean it. The utensil is held between two open palms, which are rubbed together quickly to rotate it.
Length 520mm; Diameter 130mm