THE COOK, THE FARMER, HIS WIFE AND THEIR NEIGHBOR
The participatory project by the Slovene artist and architect Marjetica Potrč and Wilde Westen – a group of young designers, architects and cultural producers -, combines visual art and social architecture to redefine the village green. Community vegetable gardens become a tool by which the residents of Amsterdam Nieuw West reclaim ownership of their neighbourhood at a time when demolition and redevelopment are causing many to feel uprooted.
In the 1950s, the garden city of Nieuw West was constructed on former farmland as a modernist project; today this Amsterdam suburb is one of the largest residential redevelopment sites in Europe. In collaboration with the residents of the multicultural Geuzenveld-Slotermeer district, we reflected on this history and celebrated a return to local food production. Here, farming and cooking are viewed as a way for people to share knowledge and traditions, and a means for the cultural renewal and rebirth of the neighbourhood. Beginning April 18, 2009, the house at Lodewijk Van Deysselstraat 61 in Amsterdam starts becoming a meeting point open to residents, friends and guests, as well as those involved in the many local initiatives already taking place in Nieuw West. Over the year in which the project developed, however, the neighbourhood residents themselves became the most important people involved, and after Harvesting Day, they took over its management. They formed a committee of eight residents, which was responsible for a community garden and a community kitchen.
The Cook, the Farmer, his Wife and their Neighbor derived from a research that Wilde Westen carried out in 2008 for more than six months in the area.
The project was selected for the 4th International Architecture Biennale Rotterdam (IABR) – Open city: Designing cohexistence – Squat city at the NAI from the 25th Sep 2009 to the 10th Jan 2010. It won third prize in the Squat City competition. The competition rewards projects that negotiate between the integrating and segregating forces and enable people of diverse cultures and lifestyles to connect and interact.
The Cook, the Farmer, his Wife and their Neighbor was shortlisted, “for its outstanding quality”, from a list of 120 cases researched around the world, by the jury of the International Award for Public Art IAPA. An international jury convened by the Global Research Institute for Public Art (GRIPA) sponsored by the College of Fine Arts at Shanghai University. Ceremony was held during the Public Art Forum on 29 March-1 April 2013 in Shanghai, China.
The project was reviewed in “Utopia: of its Past and Present, Susan Cross and Vivien Greene on Utopia Matters”, Deutsche Bank online magazine ArtMag, Issue 58, December 2009.