Cooking the Commons

cc stockholm 05


The English etymology of the word ‘leftover’ referring to excess food was first used in the late 19th century. The context of its use coincided with progressive forms of food storage industrialisation (i.e. invention of the fridge, then tupperware, then seram wrap, then microwave, then doggy bag). It also manufactured with it a general public excuse to routinise choreographies of consumption and its other: waste. Today, ‘leftover’ is assigned as a (generally pejorative) value to food that we have failed or forgotten to eat. Its notion has become a semiotic by-product of modern time appropriated by current and still dominant agencies of neo-liberal capitalism. While the culture of leftover and its cooking are considered mundane, often invisible and ignored; they can also be peripheral documents of human disempowerment: of our persisting malaise with the processes of production that has gotten out-of-hand. In rural areas where people are still in touch with the processes of self-sustenance, leftover does not really exist, or it is simply all there is. Like in the little village where my mother was born, leftover is referred to as tada, something that one leaves behind for the next cycle of usage, and hence intrinsically forms part of the circular economy of living.

Serendipity, like leftover, is another loose fiction. Both are notions of time, a signification of value born out of a happening. It synthetically frames as fortuitous an accident, meaning a constellation of circumstances emerging beyond rational intentions. It is not the pure experience itself rather its afterthought that colours a pure memory into a fictive narrative. Leftover and serendipity represent a spectrum of value that is activated by human moral (non)agency.

In this global age of transition that cries out for solutions towards crises of excesses and failed distributions (i.e. consumerism, passive spectatorship) that our previous paradigms have firmly solidified, how can a practice as simple as the renewal of perspectives towards ‘leftovers’ be a pretext for rehearsing sustainable and micro-political modalities of democracy (human empowerment)? This project is an ongoing investigation into the undercurrent psychogeographies of cultural production, focusing on deriving a philosophical learning practice of researching with what we call leftovers and cultivating conditions that rehearse and produce what we call serendipities. Through an improvisatory process of performing with / cooking (leftovers) that relies on the rubrics of learning by doing and making something with what is already there, I set out to facilitate the creation of choreographic architectures I call nowhere kitchens as discursive unfinished platforms for re-cooking persisting paradigms of design and choreography into renewed and renewable thresholds of knowledge.

Research Question

The threshold being for Agamben ‘the experience of the limit itself’ (67), how could inhabiting margins of ‘leftover states’ become liminal spaces for rehearsing strategies for a subjective polysingular human agency? When successful neo-liberal schemes and leftover old world traditions have cultured many citizens into spectatorship and arrested their capacity to use intuition in having a hand with their own spectacles, how do emergent social possibilities involved in ‘cooking together’ and its derivative philosophies produce platforms of dialogue and open learning that serves as observatory of the commons? This research is about bridging connections between practical experiences of artistic creation (cooking & eating) and its theorisation that can nourish other disciplines and facilitate fresh structures of collaboration (digestion & rumination) that expands beyond food.

Cooking as a daily practice is a declining urban ritual. This scenario has much to do with normativized choreographies of living: it takes time to cook and our modern designs have been shortcutting its process to the bare minimum. And while there is a resurgent popularisation in media of food and the canonisation of high profile chefs as the current trend of celebrated Artists, these only flirt towards a re-spectacularisation of food that has all the tendency to separate the citizens “from both the capacity to know and the power to act (Rancière, 3)’ within their own relatively unspectacular kitchens. Leftovers are archives of modern notions of time that is synchronic with the devaluation of the citizens’ daily choices. They attest to the wasted margins of consumption that have subjected people into a deeper and more spiritual crisis of passivity. Could the notion of leftovers be redeemed not as a limiting border but as a threshold of opportunity?

The idea of cooking the commons manifested three years ago as a DIY art project Foodleft involving cooking with leftovers. While residing in Madrid during the height of its economic crisis, it became an auspicious opportunity to enact such an intuition. Inspired by a curiosity to occupy intimate spaces of a ‘public’ that was (is) collectively living it, the project was created as an enquiry into the subjective notions of crisis through the simple act of cooking in people’s homes. It invited participants to inhabit ephemeral states of uncertainty. The practice evolved as an itinerant performance that occupied any given context: museums, academic conferences, congresses, aseemblies, festivals etc. Sustained renewals of this ritual created for me an evolving ‘leftover philosophy’ and brought me to the premise of cooking the commons: while indeed too many cooks spoil the broth, perhaps it could open an opportunity to create a whole new something else, something else that is yet to belong to official categories.

Within a practice-as-research frame, I set out to perform an expedition to explore ‘this whole new something else’ applying intuitive knowledge that can be summarised as ‘cooking without a recipe’. I present these micro-political kitchen processes as artistic collaborative explorations from which to develop precarious technologies of cooking to forge new collaborations that can have deeper macro-political outcomes.


During my M.A., I became passionate with contemporary theories on nomadism. Through my dissertation where I examined cases of performance artists and their negotiation with shifting identities, I came across the writings of Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari, Jacques Rancière, Alain Badiou, Rosi Braidotti, and Guy Debord. Later on, I did a 10-month Practice-as-Research Master program in Madrid and during this period, my interests grew towards developing cooking performances. This brought me to critical theories towards socially-engaged art practices from Nicolas Bourriaud, Claire Bishop, and Shannon Jackson. Nowhere Kitchen situates itself along these web of knowledge and proposes a fresh perspective of social engagement from a most unlikely source (leftover improvisations).

The choice of leftovers as departure point to engage in art practice relocates the notion of rehearsal as performance. It is about producing participatory processes that are “directly incorporated into the living attitudes” (Rancière, 4) of those involved. Nowhere Kitchens hence are as much performances as they are rehearsals of living that maps an observant kind of researching together and relies its efficacy upon failure and redemption. It’s basic rubric entails a nomadic attitude that empowers one to improvise with the given situation. The term ‘nomadic’ represents a performative aspect of learning-by-doing “that allows for otherwise unlikely encounters and unsuspected sources of interaction of experience and of knowledge” (Braidotti, 6). Whatever transpires in these conditions serve as an invitation to the ‘advent’ (Badiou, 122) of the incalculable serendipity.

The artist, according to Joseph Kosuth manifests its theories in praxis; an ‘anthropologist engaged…that depicts while alters society’ (in Johnstone, 182). An artist-as-anthropologist’s work breathes on ‘a dialectical relationship with the activity’s historicity and the social fabric of present day reality’ (183). The ‘artist’ in question does not pertain to a special kind of person, but to any person becoming a special kind of artist. And the ‘anthropology’ in question does not pertain to the pursuit of the exotic, but what George Perec neologised as ‘endotic’, an anthropology that we can consider our own, ‘one that will speak about us, will look in ourselves for what for so long we’ve been pillaging from others’. Within these frames, nowhere kitchens are rituals that activate knowledge-in-progress as actions and discourses towards empowerment. nowhere kitchens are designed as lightweight experiences that open up the palatable possibility of inhabiting palpable universes lying in between the mundane and the spectacular, between leftover and serendipity. Within this in-between, we investigate the ontology of knowledge itself and re-assess our notion of the human (homo sapiens) as one who can cook (homo coquus), not only its food, but also its own future histories.

Berlin, 2014. Last edited August 2015

______________________ // ________________________

* This essay was originally written as an application to a PhD. The application was rejected.


dayaw / cooking the filipino contemporary

Berlin, June 2015

jeepney stew series
Next: 24 June 2015, Markthalle Neun, Berlin
event link

Photos: Kay Abaño

‘Dayaw’ means to come together in celebration. When Filipinos gather, they don’t really say ‘how are you?’ to greet each other. They would instead utilise ‘kumain ka na?’ (have you eaten?) as a way of initiating a dialogue. This cultural detail reveals how important food is as a social glue in defining an experience or making something happen. Inspired by this as well as by his own personal migrations, Pepe Dayaw cooks a pop-up kitchen project that fuses stories, tastes and rhythms together in an attempt to bring Filipino contemporary into the ongoing currents of the Spice Routes.

Dayaw 01

Performing ‘cuisine’ as social engagement

Cooking cultures are living archives of people’s movements. Beneath a brand of identity (i.e. Filipino) that encrusts a cuisine lies a complex stew of accidents, contradictions, assimilations, migrations and appropriations that are made possible through choreographies or spectrums of desire and politics. The Dayaw pop-up kitchen brings these discourses onto the dining table by appropriating cuisine as a sensate meeting place to research what authentic means when one talks about food. In a topic as multi-layered as ‘Filipino cuisine’, authenticity perhaps does not essentially occur in exacting a specific dish that has been cooked ‘over there’ (because traditions merely arise from inventions and serendipities) but in translating its conditions into a savory happening that belongs to the now here. Through and beyond food, this pop-up experience is a collage of rituals, sensuality and rhythmic fusions that through cooking makes humans, whether Filipino or otherwise, come together to celebrate (dayaw).

news report


Cooking and architecture

Stockholm, May 2015
Royal Technical University, Architecture School

THE LEFTOVER BANQUET: Cooking the Commons

Studio 8 celebrated the end of the Sao Paulo project with a saudade food experience at the school. Together Studio 8 and Pepe Dayaw cooked a collaborative event in the courtyard, The Leftover Banquet. The food was sourced from the surplus of Stockholm’s supply chain and the leftovers from people’s fridges. Lecture by Pepe while the cooking was happening, conversation towards issues on both sides: how people consume in their everyday lives, and also how our society is choreographed by surplus / excess.

Nowhere Kitchen is a concept of precarious architecture making that belongs only to the now and here.

More about Studio 8’s theme for the 2014-2015 academic year, “Shifting Ground” in the Studio Themes catalogue: httpa//…/kth…/docs/studio_themes_____kth_school_of_arc/25

Event page

(Photos by Max Zinnecker & Sara Grahn)

Download pdf flyer


Foodleft. Conversation Pieces @ Phosphorus

Sao Paulo, March 2015

more information



Berlin, February 2015


a one-night only exhibition, guided tour and dance-dinner performance
Entretempo Kitchen Gallery

Photo: Mari Sierra
Photo: Mari Sierra

The earliest recorded use of the word ‘serendipity’ dates back to 18th century, when art historian Horace Walpole mentioned it in a letter, and was said to be derived from a Persian fairy tale ‘The Three Princes of Serendip’ who in the story “were always making discoveries, by accidents…of things they were not in quest of”. As in 1492, when a sailor named Cristobal Colon whose mission was to go to Japan through a route westward but instead wound up ‘lost’ in some islands he had no idea existed before and subsequently called it the ‘New World’. Almost 500 years later, one morning in 1989, a young boy in a small island in the Pacific woke up to find out that they had nothing left to eat and had to borrow three cups of rice from his neighbors. Later on he would fondly remember this event as an awakening to a whole ‘new world’. What connections lie among these narratives? Spice routes is as much an ongoing ethnography of unfinished journeys as it is an autobiography of those delicate states of grace so named serendipities. Through a choreography of ritual, storytelling, and cooking, Pepe dances along the fluid lines between the mundane and the spectacular to recook the past and relocate it in the realm of movement.

Accompanying this experience is a five-course menu composed of both recipes learned by Pepe through practice and also recent ‘accidental discoveries’ out of improvising with what is left.

-new world

Pepe Dayaw@Entretempo Kitchen Gallery from Paul&Daniela on Vimeo.

Joseph Michael Patricio (Pepe Dayaw)

Special performing guest:
Ernesto Estrella Cozar
Voilà Viola

Curated by:
Kathrin Kuna

Anelor Robin

Special thanks to:
Taina Guedes

More info about Spice Routes


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.


Birthday no. 33

Madrid, December 2015



Queridos amig@s,
El lunes que viene, 1º de diciembre, celebro mi cumpleaños nº 33 de esta vida. Ultimamente no doy mucha importancia a esa fecha, pero esta vez quería hacerlo como un pretexto para reconectar con vosotros y con el barrio de mi corazón. Os invito a compartir una serie de rituales comestibles y melódicos.

¡Venid con hambre!

Un abrazo fuerte,


20h – 21h, Espacio B, Calle Buenavista 39

I. The Insider, episodio 1. La Danza de lo Ilegible

una acción de mi amigo / poeta Ernesto Estrella Cózar

Nos adentramos en la mente de un agente de aduanas quien, al poco tiempo de jubilarse, comienza a ser invadido por los recuerdos y experiencias de las personas que pasaban delante suya mientras estaba de servicio.  Un viaje que nos hace cruzar el magma de diferentes culturas mientras nos acerca a los detalles mínimos de una historia personal atravesada por acentos e historias ajenas, que se desintegran y se vuelven a entrelazar en los distintos episodios de la serie. Preciso y voraz, el Insider interviene en el ADN cultural de nuestros tiempo y nos presenta con una identidad nómada, fiel al pulso multiple de nuestro ser y estar diarios. Una búsqueda que guía a los asistentes a través de diversas rutas que confluyen no un terreno definido, sino en una comunidad en un nosotros por hacer.

Episodio I
Danza de lo Ilegible

Solo un par de años después de su jubilación, el Insider se ve afectado por problemas de escucha y comprensión. Otros idiomas, otra sonidos, emociones ajenas aparecen en sus libros, en sus recuerdos, en su vida diaria. En un intento por combatir esta perdida identitaria, decide volver a la danza, disciplina que había practicado durante su niñez y adolescencia. De todos modos, también ahi se encuentra con que sus movimientos le están siendo arrebatados por gestos y cuerpos ajenos.

II. Estofado Express: Made in Lavapies!
Pepe cocina su historia de Brasil, España y Filipinas

Berenjena y otras verduras de temporada
en una salsa de leche de coco, manioc y naranja (vegetariana)


Pollo con jamon iberico cocido
en ajos, salsa soja, vinagre de sidra y laurel

Viene todo con:
Arroz con curcuma fresca
ensalada alineada de vinagreta de cilantro y tamarindo
croquetas con salsa de cacahuete y chocolate

y unas historias de la ruta de especias de Pepe

Pepe va a preparar mas o menos 33 menus, y con eso nos apañamos.

III. After Dark My Sweet
Licor sonoro-digestivo para el final de la noche.
(Al remo, Ernesto Estrella; a la lumbre, Carlos Estrella, Pepe Dayaw, etc…)

Nos acercamos a una una isla a la cual han ido llegando restos de poesía, música, palabra hablada, provenientes de distintas costas: bossa-nova, swing, flamenco, música folklórica, etc. Todo este material llega a la costa y se le ofrece al público desde una frecuencia cálida, como la que acompaña al movimiento de acariciar o compartir la comida con alguien que te ha sido cercano. Músicos y poetas invitados se unen a las aguas de esta isla según progresa la noche.

Salida negociable 😉
Sugerimos una contribución de 6 euros para la comida
y lo que queréis aportar para las acciones y música
Si no teneis ningun duro 😉 ya pensais de algun intercambio

The Insider:

After Dark my Sweet:



Pepe Dayaw and Caique Tizzi, Manila – Sao Paulo

Berlin, January 2015

Photos: Franz Bruecke

Caique and Pepe
15 January 7pm | Agora Collective, Mittelweg 50

The word ‘saudade’ first appeared as text in 13th century Galician-Portuguese anthology of poems called cancioneiros, more than 200 years before the first Portuguese men arrived in what is now Brazil. In the 1950s, a poem called ‘Chega de Saudade’ written by Vinicius de Moraes and composed by Antonio Carlos Jobim became a popular song that pioneered the bossa nova genre. Half a century later, a young man from Manila memorized this song without necessarily speaking Portuguese, mimicking the words and following its melody.

This series of events is bound and made possible mainly by one thing: water. Water is what separate lands, creates saudade feelings, and makes colonization possible. Two artists, one grew up in Sao Paolo, and the other in Manila make ‘sense’ of these fluid connections and other things that unite two of the largest metropolises in the world. It happens in one table. Through the interplay of their own micro-histories, they cook the colonial, the indigenous and everything else in between through a choreographic recipe that can only be described as ‘anthropofagia’.

The performance is a continuation of an artistic conversation between Caique Tizzi and Pepe Dayaw, who met each other in Berlin through the Agora Collective art platform. Some of the proceeds of the event goes to a symbolic fund for the artists’ current researches: SWEET (Tizzi) and A KARAOKE PROJECT (Dayaw)


plantain with spicy mango chutney, avocado and crunchy prosciutto

seabass cooked in a reduction of cider vinegar, ginger, garlic and coriander
cauliflower coconut puree, steamed tapioca

chicken and chestnut in chilli chocolate curry
pickled grapes in a tamarind base and turmeric rice

dulce de leche chilli lime and yoghurt cream
steamed cassava cakes with grated coconut

30 € (a glass of wine is included)
Please reserve your places by writing to


Agora Collective: Foreplay #04

Berlin, October 2014

Agora Collective: Foreplay #04 Daniel AlmgrenRecén with Pepe Dayaw

Foreplay Daniel 07

The primary intention of the performance series, Foreplay , is to create proximity between the audience and the work of the performer/choreographer through an encounter of the public with the artist’s universe, in the format of a dinner that happens prior to the performance. This dinner is a carefully prepared situation designed collaboratively by the artist and one of Agora Food‘s chefs (Agora’s new food platform, that supports 7 different chefs). This food experience is the opportunity for the artist to approach his/her work in a new format, re-articulating it into the language of taste, texture and dynamics.

This Program was conceptualized by Agora Collective, but is a continuous collaboration between the collective, the chefs, the artists and the public.

“Walking home” / A set of dishes that brings Pepe back to an edible sense of home, an experience that he can share with everybody, in effect creating a room for a possible ‘us’ to take place.

“Cooking our connections” / A half cooked second you and the others decide on its final taste, beginning with Daniels’ s and Pepe’s chosen sets of ingredients, and mixed with your own spicy memories.

“A sweet ode to death” / Autumn… a time to remember what is not there anymore. An homage to the human capacity to create and weave memories… of home and beyond.

Photos: Agora Collective


Spice Routes @ B_Tour Festival / BITEF Belgrade

Belgrade, September 2014


Btour 00

“Se acerca el momento de elegir: el miedo o el hambre”
(The moment to choose has come: fear or hunger)
– Maria Folguera, El amor y el trabajo, 2012, p.52

Hunger is a physical state that has the capacity to put our attention to our body and focus on the weight of an immediately present situation: the desire to eat. This desire creates a hyperlocal sphere of time and space that is limited to satisfying it. When used creatively, this state brings about a set rituals of searching for and/or making food that can bring people together. Once hunger is satisfied and / or have been celebrated, it is possible to create other rituals and other states. Our living narratives begin from how we satisfy our basic living necessity.

Spicy Histories remembers the ritualistic, ceremonious and social conditions of a basic human act that has since belonged to the everyday, the mundane and the sedentary. By transposing it as an event where one travels from one place to another, the artist invites the people to participate in a woven set of edible narratives that, in an attempt to tell a story of a city, tries to cook together an ephemeral community.

Photos: B_Tour Festival

Cooking as ritual / Interview with Pepe by City Magazine Belgrade
Download full magazine in pdf
B_Tour webpage

with the kind support of