At Camp Pixelache, the festival/unconference event that I attended last month in Helsinki, Finland, I got a chance to talk to Melinda Sipos, who was an artist in residence in the Pixelache Micro-Residency program. Melinda is from Budapest, Hungary, and has recently been doing projects about food and sustainability.
The group Pixelache turned 10 this year – and at the event there was to be a celebration of the group turning 10 years old. Milanda organized the creation of a “collective cake.” For this – participants were encouraged to bring a local ingredient from our home country. These ingredients were going to be used to create a cake.
It turned out that there were so many ingredients – that Melinda had to create a cake that was kind of like ladyfingers – and then she setup a buffet of all of the ingredients that people brought. I brought local honey from Ohio. There was chocolate, chocolate noodles from Germany, jellies from Finland, England, and Estonia, several bottles of alcohol, and some other ingredients.
The other project that Milanda tested out was to test a data-visualization model of the food that was served in the cafeteria on the main Pixelache day at the Arbis center, where the event was held. She developed ideas around catering. She wrote about the project, “Usually catering is considered as a necessary element of an event, but we tend to take it for granted that we are served with food and drinks. This experiment focuses on two main questions: how catering affects the ecological footprint of the whole event (especially traveling) and can we balance this out with a joint effort? In addition the goal is also to raise awareness on what we eat by providing information on the ingredients (their “stories”) and through a special arrangement in the restaurant space.”
At the event – there was an amazing carrot soup, a mushroom soup, a pasta dish with fish, and another dish that Milanda worked with the cook at the cafeteria to source out local ingredients, and to keep track of the food miles of all of the food. I had a gluten-free version of the soup – and it was amazing.
At 4 pm – it was time for the 10 year anniversary cake. The cake and the ingredients were put out on a table. Everyone took some cake, and then added ingredients to the cake a la carte. I tested 3 kinds of honeys, had some great jam, also some chocolate. It was a nice moment of the conference – with everyone talking, eating, and gathering around the food table.
Milanda told me about some of her work at Kitchen Budapest – a center of art and technology, and also about her new project called Based on Pig which explores food and culture. Based on the Pig is a project that has the goal to discover the Hungarian Kitchen, especially the eating habits of the contemporary Budapest people using artistic research methods. She and her collaborators are exploring what stories, traditions, and legends a certain food, ingredient or living creature used in the kitchen has. Questions they are exploring include, “What information is available online about food, and what do we face in the market?” The project aims to map the cultural framework of our food-related decisions and also to do some kitchen experiments. They kicked off the project with the ingredient of pigs. They plan to go after many other animals and vegetables with the project.
To learn more about her work, check out a video interview with Milanda on Vimeo that Pixelache recently posted. You also can read about the project Pig, and learn more about some Hungarian food at www.baedonpig.com/en/.