Who’s in Our Food?
How can artists and researchers come together to create visualisations of injustice and resistance in contemporary food systems with the goal to explore disparities, inequalities, and the social/environmental problems inherent in industrialised food systems?
What did the project involve?
The team of creative artists and researchers behind ‘Who’s in our food?’ sought to visualize the systems and inequalities that determine the food that sustains us as individuals and communities. The project focused on the research of the Food Justice Network (FJN) members that explores disparities, inequalities, and social and environmental problems inherent in industrialised food systems. The findings of this research were used as inspiration for artists to develop visualisations of injustice and resistance in contemporary food systems. The artists and researchers intended for each visualisation to tell a story via art of the challenge of food justice in the global food system.
However, the team quickly arrived at the conclusion that defining ‘Food Justice’ was not a simple task. Asking the questions: “When it comes to ‘fairness’ and ‘equality’ in relation to our food system, should we be concerned with questions of individual citizens’ access to sustainable sources of subsistence, or issues of production, labour and the practices of agri-business? Do people have clear rights to food? And should such rights focus on quantity alone, or take account of the quality and nature of food? Furthermore, when defining ‘food justice’ should we be primarily concerned with human rights, or are we dealing with complex systems that oblige us to think about non-human persons and actors, including animals and the environment? Whatever our responses to these questions might be, it seems clear that thinking about climate change cannot ignore either food or justice.” (Who’s at the Table? Priorities After a Year of Food Justice Dialogue)
To respond to these questions the team established the Bristol Researchers Food Justice Network which comprised of a regular fortnightly seminar series, a workshop exploring the core purpose, values, and potential for the Network and an artistic collaboration to experiment with interactive ways of thinking about the food system and food justice. The researchers believe creative practice and public engagement can become critical tools as society addresses the twin challenges of climate emergency and social inequality and their radical impact on our food systems.
Who are the team and what do they bring?
- Robert Skinner (History, University of Bristol) is a Senior Lecturer working on the social and political history of South Africa with an interest in the connections between local and global activism, and ways of fostering collaborative research between academics and activist communities.
- Lydia Medland (Sociology, Politics and International Studies, University of Bristol) is a Senior Research Associate and member of the Cabot Institute for the Environment and a multidisciplinary researcher focusing on work in food systems.
- Lauren Blake (Geographical Sciences, University of Bristol) is the Board director for Bristol Food Network and an interdisciplinary anthropologist and human geographer focusing on agrifood systems, through empirically driven research with an ethnographic and systemic approach.
- Amy Rose (Artist, ANAGRAM) is an artist focused on the curation of immersive experiences that blend ground-breaking digital interaction with everyday stories.
What were the results?
The project commissioned the artist Amy Rose and then held the ‘Who’s in our food?’ workshop sessions between the artist and members if the Food Justice Network. Amy Rose and her team proposed to form an interactive artwork that is currently under development as stated on the Who’s in our Food Blog page.
An outcome of the project was the foundation of the Bristol Researchers Food Justice Network that has released the blog on Brigstow Broadcasts ‘Who’s at the table? Priorities after a year of food justice dialogue’ co-written by Lauren Blake, Lydia Medland, and Rob Skinner, a blog that focuses on questions of environmental sustainability and climate change in the light of the Cop-26 conference and establishes 6 key food justice issues.
Additional outcomes are to be added soon.