by Rose Merriman
I met India Rose Klap at the Momentum Worldwide gallery. She had arrived a few hours earlier in
Berlin with her partner. It was a sunny day, we decided to go outside to do the interview. We sat on
a rickety wooden bench underneath some trees at the back of Kunstquartier Bethanian. It was the
week before the opening of Water(Proof), where India would be performing Plastic Soup.
My first question to India was if she would describe herself as a food artist.
“Yes, I would. Two years ago, I don’t think I would of necessarily. I would describe myself as a
conceptual artist but for the last two years I have been busy with just food and topics regarding
food. I also think that that will be what I am doing for the future.
I asked her why she focuses on food as her medium and subject of choice. Food has always been a
big part of her life and growing up.
“My father is a chef; he has had restaurants from when I was very little up to now. I have been inside
kitchens for most of my life. From when I was about 15 years old, I started really working with him.
Being in a kitchen with him and being surrounded by people who know a lot about food and think a
lot about food. I think it wasn’t really an option for me.” She laughs. “I really like cooking; I really like
thinking about where you get ingredients from. So yeah, I had all this inspiration around me, and I
just used it. And with food, you can grab it, you can eat it. It’s really physical and I like that aspect
too. You can make great ideas and have everything in your head but it’s great if you can make it
super, super physical in a way that everyone can relate too. Everyone eats and everyone will
understand up to a certain point what you are talking about as they are familiar with food, more
then they might be familiar with painting for instance.”
India was in art school and had been busy combining food and art in her practice for a while.
However, as her time in art school was nearing it’s end, she hit a wall in her practice.
“…I was stuck.” India said. “I had to make my last project for school, something that you must work
on for a year. I really didn’t know what to do. And then I watched a Dutch television program,
where they take a certain type of food each week and they see if the way the supermarkets sells it is
true. For instance, low-fat milk, is it really low-fat? and what are the consequences? It looked
critically at a lot of different stuff. I binge-watched that series. It made me think, art is interesting,
and food is interesting, maybe looking at it critically is the most interesting thing to do. I started to
think a lot about food topics I wanted to talk about in an artsy and critical way. “
The idea of doing something with edible plastic came to her suddenly.
“The Plastic Soup idea was just a side idea. At first, I was thinking about making a book about critical
food design, and then I had wanted to put the book in something. It can’t be plastic, it can’t be
paper, what should it be? Then suddenly I had this idea of a bag that was maybe edible. I began to
think about it more and more, about the idea of an edible plastic bag and it became way bigger than
the original project.”
One of the challenges with Plastic Soup was finding a material that felt and looked like plastic.
“It was hard to make a bag that looked like plastic and that was edible in a way .It took me one and a
half years to find people that were able to do it, because I don’t have the chemistry background at
all. I just read a lot about it. Back then, I had to search days and days on the internet. I had never
been on the 20 th page of Google before then. Now if you just search edible plastic, you have
companies who are making edible foils that look like plastic. I think there are…” She pauses. “…about
20 times as many companies busy making biodegradable plastics now. There are a lot of companies
right now doing research and making on bio plastics. Bio plastics at its core are almost always edible
in some way, as they are made from completely natural products. It was hard to make a bag that
looked like plastic and that was edible in a way. Then there was this company that tried to make a
plastic bag as natural as possible and what is really great about it is that it looks plastic and really
feels like it but you would never be able to use it as when it gets wet it disintegrates. It’s a great idea
for my concept as it works well but as a bag it doesn’t work that well. It is really the image that
works but it is not that practical.”
My next and last question was if climate change was a common theme in her work.
“In the beginning of my practice it was more about food. The Plastic Soup project came in, which is
narrowly related with climate change in a way but also with the impact plastics have on nature.
When you work with that (subject) a lot, you become surrounded by a lot of people who think about
climate change and you begin think a lot about it yourself.
“I wouldn’t describe the Plastic Soup project at its core as a project about climate change, it is more
about the ecological impact of plastic. Now I organize dinners where there are four or five courses of
food, with Plastic Soup being one. I have two other courses that are really about the impact of
climate change on food. I have one course that is completely based on the idea that the Netherlands
(where India is from) will be flooded if the sea level keeps rising. This will have a huge impact on
crops and what type of food you will find in and around the city. That is what I am busy with right
now, it is more focused on climate change then Plastic Soup project was.”
With these dinners, each course shows a different future of what could happen to the food we eat if
we don’t act.
“There is the plastic soup that portrays a world where there is a lot of plastic and we don’t do
anything about it. There is the course about the rising sea levels, but I also have a course that goes
back to 300 years ago and looks at how chefs worked then. I took that and modernized it so for
instance, I have this recipe from a Dutch cookbook from 1650 and made it modern, using super local
foods. We also have a dish that is more pharmaceutical. So, you take certain aspects of something,
like a berry and you see what you can extract from it, to either make it taste better. It’s all different
outlooks on the future of food. Some are more socially critical; some are more environmentally
Rose Merriman's photos of India Rose Klap at Momentum Gallery, in Kreuzberg, Berlin,
during the opening of Water(Proof) exhibition.
FAW 2019 IS POSSIBLE DUE TO THE COOPERATION WITH:
FAW 2019 IS POSSIBLE DUE TO THE COOPERATION WITH:
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