The subject of Food and Art has been a conceptual proposition within the work of Rasheed Araeen throughout his lifetime.
‘In 1975-76, I regularly cooked food and distributed among the audience of the Sunday art events at Artists for Democracy (AFD) in London. AFD was founded by a group of artists, led by David Medalla, who were involved in the early Seventies, first in the working class struggles and then turned to art activities in support of antiracist and anti-imperialist struggles worldwide. After successfully organising an art festival against the brutality of Pinochet’s military regime in Chile, at the Royal College of Art in 1974, they established a squat in a derelict building in west London with a space for art events, meetings and exhibitions. I joined the collective in the early 1975, on the invitation of David Medalla, and held my first exhibition there. AFD had no money and the Sunday gatherings needed some kind of refreshment. So I decided to cook food. People would bring their own drinks and I provided “curry n’ rice” for a small sum of money which was then used for the petty expenses of AFD.’ (Rasheed Araeen, 2011)
The first major manifestation of this interest was unveiled in the form of Shamiyaana – Food for Thought: Thought for Change at Documenta14, Athens, 2017. Araeen invited passers-by to sit together with strangers beneath multi-coloured canopies and enjoy a meal based on recipes from around the Mediterranean, cooked in collaboration with Organization Earth, a Greek non-profit NGO founded in 2010, whose mission is the development of the concept of environmental & social intelligence, with the aim to promote competencies such as critical thinking and making informed decisions by participating and collaborating.