Tales from the Kitchen Table

Potato prints, 2020

In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, many of us are spending much of our time at home: working, sleeping, socialising, eating at home. The kitchen has long been ‘the hub of the home’ in many homes all over the world; a place for sharing food and stories; a place for gossip; a place, hidden from the public eye, where we can be completely ourselves and posit political views we might not feel safe sharing outside of the home. In Fisksätra in particular, the
kitchen has been the site of municipal injustice, with many apartments being ‘renovated’ with poor quality IKEA kitchens in order to increase rents and ultimately push people out of their homes. But now the global pandemic has, in a sense, radicalised the space of the kitchen, made it a place where everything and nothing happens.

 

Fisksätra museum itself also participates in this model of sharing domestic space: housed in a ground floor two-room apartment within a block typical of the area’s architecture, with immediate access to the neighbourhood’s main public square, it inhabits the threshold between private and public space. One enters the museum through the kitchen, thus as visitors we immediately feel at home, projecting ourselves back into our own kitchens
elsewhere. The museum kitchen is an imprint of our own homes, thus the ideal place for telling intimate stories in public, for sharing and creating empathy.


Everyday items in the kitchen can also be used as tools for empathy and storytelling. Activities such as cooking and eating together facilitate the sharing of stories, alleviating the pressure of sitting down and narrating by engaging in something together. Even peeling potatoes side by side at the table can create intimate moments of collective agency and empathy. In the museum kitchen, those very same potatoes can become printer’s blocks,
carving out images and a space for sharing. Potato printing is the simplest of techniques, whereby everyone, whatever their age or level of expertise, can create something, can tell a story. Further, the roughness of the prints in this technique leaves space for each person to see their own interpretation of the form - the same splodgy shape could be a cat’s nose, an umbrella, or a giant’s toe.