Recherche de terrain, Les caves d’affinage naturel de Montaigut-le-Blanc, 2017
Field research: Montaigut-le-Blanc natural affinage caves, 2017 © Cooking Sections

Losing Cultures

Date: 2018
Medium: Multimedia installation
Dimensions: Duration: 25 minutes. In French and in English, alternating every half-hour

With Losing Cultures, Cooking Sections inaugurates a new body of research that examines narratives around food territories, epitomized in the cherished French notion of "terroir". At the heart of their research is the invention of an indisputable correlation between "origin" and "quality" for food products.

The duo’s starting point for Losing Cultures lies in the French colonial project in Algeria and the competition between wine producers on either side of the Mediterranean that led French policy-makers to establish protective terminologies at the beginning of the twentieth century. With Losing Cultures, Cooking Sections studies the advent of quality-controlled systems intertwined with the construction of territories driven by the need to circumscribe "French-ness" in food-making, leading to a complex system of labels and certifications such as AOC (Appellation d'origine contrôlée) or IGP (Indication géographique protégée).

Losing Cultures takes this line of inquiry further by putting it to the test of climate change. Through a year-long series of interviews and field visits with wine and cheese producers and agricultural researchers (INRA, INAO, Institut des Sciences de la Vigne et du Vin...), the duo has studied carefully the strategies used to preserve territorial symbolic and economic values. Their project addresses how the growing impact of climate change erodes and reshapes borders, modifies flavours and consequently challenges the vocabulary used to describe the new qualities of products coming from changing landscapes.

The work is composed of a sound piece written by the artists, accompanied by a collection of images gathered throughout their research. The piece is presented in an immersive environment, echoing a natural cheese ripening cave long since abandoned; it calls for a more subtle reading of these current ecological transformations. It seeks a vocabulary that could anticipate the new characteristics of products emerging from these shifting landscapes. Losing Cultures invokes the invention of new ways of "reading" and of "eating" the French landscape.

First institutional presentation in France.

Public program :

Book launch, The Empire Remains Shop
Friday, June 22, 7 PM
The artists in conversation with Claire Tancons (curator and researcher)
Recherche de terrain, Les caves d’affinage naturel de Montaigut-le-Blanc, 2017
Field research: Montaigut-le-Blanc natural affinage caves, 2017 © Cooking Sections
El-Medhi grape harvest, Algeria, research document.
Research document: El-Medhi grape harvest, Algeria © All rights reserved