The Diriyah Biennale Foundation recently orchestrated a workshop in Riyadh as part of the Biennale Encounters year-long event series, focusing on the intricate relationship between culture and politics surrounding food. This event featured a presentation by two esteemed artists, Tayeba Begum and Mahbubur Rahman, hailing from the renowned Britto Arts Trust in Dhaka, Bangladesh. The centerpiece of their artistic endeavors is the Pakghor project, a unique social kitchen initiative that has garnered attention worldwide.
Pakghor made its debut at Documenta fifteen, a prestigious contemporary art exhibition hosted in Kassel, Germany. At this event, Begum and Rahman transformed an open-air space into a Bengali domestic vegetable garden, embarking on an extraordinary culinary journey. Over the course of 100 days, they meticulously prepared dishes from 100 distinct recipes, symbolizing the rich tapestry of global cuisine.
During their insightful workshop in Riyadh, Begum and Rahman mesmerized attendees with captivating tales and mouthwatering recipes drawn from their social kitchen experiences. Moreover, exciting news emerged during the event – the duo's intention to bring their open-air kitchen spectacle to the heart of Saudi Arabia's capital, Riyadh. In this new setting, they aspire to not only share their diverse culinary creations but also foster meaningful interactions among people from various backgrounds.
As Rahman articulated, the essence of their project lies in promoting interaction, akin to the bonds within families and neighborhoods. Nonetheless, they acknowledge the challenges presented by Riyadh's unique geography and cultural context, given its arid climate. However, their determination remains unshaken as they collaborate with a local farmer, tapping into his invaluable insights and guidance.
The forthcoming event in the Biennale Encounters series, titled Njokobok, is scheduled for September 9th, offering an exciting platform for residents and members of diverse communities in Diriyah and Riyadh. Participants will unite to prepare one dish, celebrating the universality of food as a unifying force that transcends boundaries. This event promises to be a testament to the power of art and gastronomy in fostering connections and bridging cultural divides.