Open Restaurant on Fogo Island

August 2018

FIA launches artist’s project on food culture and sustainability.

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Fogo Island’s food culture has been shaped by centuries of self-reliance and resourcefulness, weather and seasonal change, and increasingly, by international trade and the global economy. From subsistence-based growing and managing of available resources to the effects of industrialized production and subsequent loss of local food knowledge, a whole history of Western food culture can be read through Fogo Island. In collaboration with Fogo Island Arts, Shorefast, and the community of Fogo Island, artist Steffen Jagenburg presents Open Restaurant on Fogo Island, a project involving local growers and producers, and knowledge inherent to place. Jagenburg will cook and host two suppers a week for invited guests during the month of August. Each meal will be sourced from local ingredients and shaped by food knowledge specific to the island’s communities and inhabitants. If food culture on Fogo Island began as a question of meeting basic survival needs, now, after the influence of decades of industrialized food, there are opportunities to rediscover local techniques and resources that may have been overlooked previously. With a deep respect for traditional ways, Open Restaurant embraces local production in accordance with the seasons, and the possibilities of moving beyond subsistence practices towards experimentation and invention. From the French word ‘restaurer,’ meaning to ‘restore,’ Open Restaurant celebrates the sustaining properties of sharing food and diverse perspectives around a dinner table.

Open Restaurant is an ongoing project first initiated by Jagenburg in Berlin in 2012 as a way to bring people together around ideas of local and organic food. The region where he lives is located in the former East German countryside and shares similarities with Fogo Island in its transitioning food culture. Jagenburg considers food as a metaphor for our overall contemporary condition as a society, one that is over-industrialized and over-consuming, and has lost its connection to the natural world. Rediscovering this connection is a process of restoring, of returning our ways of being to an ideal state through which we can live in a sustainable way.

Steffen Jagenburg was born and raised in Cologne. Inspired by the art scene in the city from an early age, his photographic practice developed from his will to speak with and understand other creative, like-minded people. Self-taught, he uses photography as a means to get closer to people and share ideas, while executing his own conceptual framework and rules. In applying these capacities, he has been able to continually reinvent his work, from personal to contextual and corporate communication projects. He has photographed material for a number of institutions around the world such as the Heinrich B.ll Foundation, Berlin; Shorefast, Fogo Island; Kunsthalle Wien; Volksbühne, Berlin; and Witte de With, Rotterdam; among others. Jagenburg has been working on a larger artistic project over the past two years entitled Boys in the Trees, exploring the exchange between humans and nature. Jagenburg lives in the countryside just outside of Berlin.

Jagenburg will also participate in Fogo Island’s first ever community Food Circle, a conversation about the past, present, and future of food with Mitchell Davis, Executive Vice President of the James Beard Foundation; Bonnie Stern, one of Canada’s foremost cookbook authors; and Fogo Island Inn Executive Chef Jonathan Gushue on July 31. The event is hosted by Fogo Island Inn Innkeeper Zita Cobb and is free and open to the public.

Open Restaurant on Fogo Island meals are by invitation only. For more information please contact [email protected].