Publication Studio Oakland's project Open Cup offered Open Engagement conference-goers a space to relax between sessions, while also gently raising questions regarding contemporary social, economic and culinary existence. Using the increasingly popular strategy of the pop-up business, the project reflected the increase in flexible and modular business models. These offer greater freedom for the self-employed but smear the differentiation between time on- and off-the-clock. The issues around these business strategies, and their social effects, are particularly pressing in the Bay Area, currently experiencing wide-reaching and hyper-visible shifts in its civic landscape. Any nook can now sprout a business of its own, if only for a moment.
The Bay Area is also home to a huge variety of new and traditional food cultures. Foregrounding experimental drinks, produced in collaboration with chef Leif Hedendal, points to the role of food in social life in the Bay Area. These drinks center around foods prized for their medicinal and restorative value, insisting on the link between the food produced and the embodied experience of the consumer. The familiarity of the form — a cafe — also offers Open Engagement participants a welcoming entry-point into the project.
How do we think about economic life when there is no longer a separate space dedicated to it? What are the effects of this kind of flexibility and itinerancy on artists and their projects? What is the relationship between economic exchange and art? How does food and the space around it serve as a restorative counterpoint to the bustling everyday? How do we care for ourselves? How do we form ourselves? Do you want to drink this?
Drinks were made by Leif Hedendal, cups were formed collaboratively by Ian Dolton-Thorton, Leif, Chloe and ceramicist, Zoe Dering, who later glazed and fired them.
More about the event here.