Food, science & culture come together as Europe meets Africa in a splash of photography

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For three days in June, the Stockholm Resilience Centre building will be merging with the Food (R)evolution exhibition to become public art installation blurring the boundaries between art, food and cutting edge science.

This outdoor gallery will feature the work of award winning photographers and film makers from around the world. In addition, the 3 day programme will bring together researchers and practitioners from South Africa and Sweden in a series of public workshops and lectures focused on ensuring a brighter global food future for people and planet.

The Food (R)evolution Exhibition is a travelling outdoor art installation consisting of 29 photographs and 4 short films by over 12 different artists from around the world. The images on show tell the story of the daily diets of citizens from all walks of life in different parts of the Africa and elsewhere. This story of dietary transition is interspersed with specific themes about the global food production system.

The exhibition is unusual in that it is designed to be shown in public spaces as opposed to art galleries and the overall objective is to facilitate understanding of the complexities of Africa’s food system through processes of formal and informal dialog. The multi-disciplinary method of the exhibit as a research tool is to explore how visual texts (photography) may prompt people to share diverse perspectives on the complexities of the local (and global) food system.

The exhibition was originally curated by the Sustainability Institute and now runs in partnership with the Southern African FoodLab, the Centre for Complex System in Transition (CST), and the African Climate Change Adaptation Initiative (ACCAI).

With a growing focus on the central role of food in the resilience and transition agendas, as well as an emerging collaboration between the Stockholm Resilience Centre and a cluster of food related actors in South Africa, the idea of running the exhibition in Stockholm seemed like an ideal way to strengthen the relationship between Stockholm and Stellenbosch. Experience has taught us that photography can work as a powerful vehicle for stimulating dialog around complex and interconnected challenges within the food system in ways which allow for inclusion of a wide range of academic and non-academic stakeholders in generative dialog.

Myself representing the Sustainability Institute, Laura Pereira (Stellenbosch University) and Dr. Scott Drimie (Southern African Food Lab) from South Africa and two researchers from the Stockholm Resilience Centre will host and facilitate the exhibition and a three day Food Festival programme.

Through this, we hope to foster new research collaborations, knowledge exchange and network building between Swedish and South African practitioners, researchers and students.

We hope that it could also be a means through which to engage future and potential research funders, to allow for greater collaboration in future.