becoming spice routes

researching the archive of migrant cooking

Life itself is an improvisation, especially for migrant citizens. Becoming Spice Routes is a retrospective of 10 years of performance practice enacted and initiated by Pepe Dayaw since 2010, when Pepe migrated to Europe and began an artistic research on the performance of migrant cooking and nomadic movement. For a decade and in collaboration with different time based and site specific contexts, Pepe engaged in ‘ecologic’ performance acts that researches the boundaries and territorialities of performativity and theatricality, art and life, work and rest. It involved mostly cooking with leftovers as performance art in both private and public spaces and a series of happenings, collaborations, jamming, storytelling, urban interventions, street theatres, travels, ambient environments and experience designs. Pepe revisits the archives or leftovers of this cycle of time that he could characterize as a full circle from crisis to crisis, opportunity to opportunity, or in anthropologic terms, a long durational ethnographic work.

What is the migrant body of knowledge and where is its archive? How can performance itself be a document where one can situate research, pedagogy, and art and life design? Pepe re-members together the oral memory with the help of material archive to synthesize forms and ways on how it could be shared or translated into a platform for artistic development and transition space for anybody: the DIY pedagogy of archiving one’s repertoire, cooking as a base of research and storytelling, and the commoning of improvised collective know-how. The ensuing work maps a genealogy of ideas, tools and methodologies that evolved as well through time and with each performance, as well as the procession of Pepe Dayaw’s micropolitic as a migrant artist, their search for home, community and integration. 

BECOMING SPICE ROUTES or BSR is an artistic archive, online blog and exhibition project curated by Pepe Dayaw that aims to archive and publish the research of Nowhere Kitchen. From 2010 to 2020, Pepe experimented on the performance of cooking with leftovers and met too many cooks. It made, or rather, cooked history. The archive is meant to translate and share leftover philosophies to others as an artistic method; as well as to connect and collaborate with other existing projects on leftover cultures.

e-zine / Nowhere Kitchen recipes

Tada is a zine project that aims to bring and give back to the source of its inspiration. Tada is leftovers translated in Bikol, a region and ethnolinguistic group of people in the Eastern part of the Philippine archipelago. It is a place that receives the most number of typhoons from the Pacific Ocean. Tada not only means leftover food, but also the act of saving something for the other. It connotes an innate consciousness of sharing and interconnectivity seasoned by a life design based on survival. In this ethics, leftover is a living culture.

life long learning with leftovers / online media lab

is a set of workshop modules designed to share the Nowhere Kitchen method both as a space for creative cooking and the utility of cooking practice as a way of art and research. It is aimed towards the individual as well as any collective body who wish to embark on a holistic learning based on cooking as performance art. The basic structure of Nowhere Kitchen is an ‘easy and lightweight’ assemblage of found and existing materials where cooking (together) is possible. It evolves in-situ. It’s function is to collaborate with a given situation or facilitate the occurrence of associations or what may be referred to as ‘coming together’ by inaugurating a kitchen now here. The ritual of cooking is considered as a breathing space where it is ‘safe’ to inhabit uncertainties and the ending dish and stories that remain are but leftovers of the process.

The online blog will feature research findings that relocate cooking within the history of migrations and exchange. It maps a decade of the genealogy of micropolitic ideas and conversations that inspired this initiative in relation to the macropolitical and socio-historical events as well as contemporary times: times of global crises and emergencies, times of migration, times of transitions and transformations. It is a reflective ethnography of cooking as a human performance connected to survival, migration, exchange and development. The aim of BSR is to open up more awareness of the importance of the politics of cooking leftovers with coming to terms with our past and creating sustainable futures.

tada:: a word in Bikol that means leftovers, both as a noun and a verb (tad-an). Its concept as an action pertains to a consciousness of doing something for another: a relational aspect that entails sharing. To leave something behind. It’s a value of time that cooks the past to feed the future.

napadpad:: a word in Tagalog that pertains to the phenomenon of someone finding themselves somewhere. The verb connotes a serendipitous process or improvised circumstances leading to the event of being found or having reached somewhere. It is a node of a migrant journey.

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* The project has just received funding from the Fonds Darstellende Künst e.V. #takecare to develop an artistic archive. The project will be realized between February and April 2021.