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The Berlin Global Meets the Contemporary Food Lab

February 03rd, 2014

From Art to Science: The Contemporary Food Lab

On January 30th, we met with Ludwig Cramer-Klett, founder or the Katz Orange restaurant and the Contemporary Food Lab.

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News from Berlin. The Contemporary Food Lab is an innovative concept, the mix of art and science with culture and nature to provide a neutral platform for dialogue to the broader audience, rather than only typical expert knowledge that is usually given by such forums.

The current exhibition (which smelt amazing!) is reused from a previous exhibition which was created by school children using Prince’s Cookies.


“Can you describe the exact mission of your organization, what do you think is the main objective?”

“The mission is not so straight cut that we could put it down in one sentence. At the end of the day it’s a forum that looks at the relationship between culture and nature so we put food in the name of the organization as it’s at the centre of our methodology. We want to create an exchange that is not merely mental or intellectual, but one that’s also a sensual and bodily experience at the same time. So creating more profound results than if you only talk to someone and explain them and create an intellectual exchange- it’s a more holistic approach to the exploration. That means that eating and cooking play a central role so it’s not that we necessarily only look at food but the relations between culture and nature are very important with food; E.g. the way we eat and produce our food. Food is central but we are a bit more macro and wider interest than pure foodie issues or sustainability farming and things like that. But they all play a role in what we do, but are only one part of what we do.”

“You’re also connecting food with art mainly, right?”

“We are currently building a room next door that is the event room or the lab room where we have a library, kitchen, and seating area to host also different kinds of events, workshops, symposiums, readings, screenings and all kinds of formats. We have also an online journal which we reports on our events and activities. Overall the whole project is pretty awesome, very much in the beginning so the exact content and idea will be more apparent when we continue with the events. It’s also important that the issues that we are talking about now are often very much often from a certain corner of morality and politics; apart from the foodie entertainment pleasure aspects there is often this moral and political feeling. We are not moral or political we are not actually there to point or to show what’s right and what’s wrong, that’s not what we are after. Its more about maybe creating a space that allows a general confusion to be solved to some degree so there is around these issues there is a lot of confusion, ignorance and many different ideas so many people who do not know for themselves much and don’t have the capacities or accessibility to information that is necessary to get your own position, they often just jump from one externally dictated dogma to the next so that’s what. We will talk about moral and political attitudes: so there are some people that are opposed to killing animals and there are those who are very much opposed to animals destroying the forest and they wish all animals to be killed and others wish no animals to be touched. In the end there is a lot of nature protection activity going on that is completely controversial to each other. So that’s what is causing a bit of confusion to many people, of course in terms of health issues also there is many different thoughts on what you should or shouldn’t eat: drink milk, don’t drink milk etc. In a non judgemental way we want to communicate knowledge that allows people who would like more structure, more understanding to get what they need. What we are really after is to create a situation where people actually are able to come to their own position about something so we believe that you can’t come to a position only by thinking about it. You can really actually only come to a unique position by feeling into an issue. In order to feel into something you need to be actually in touch with it. You need to connect with it.  We allow experts to come in and display their own disciplines in multidisciplinary events.”

“With your neutral standpoint on a lot of issues, do you think you can contribute to cultural diplomacy?”

“As a matter of fact we have been approached from a group in Brazil recently, to take the Contemporary Food Lab to Sao Paolo which is an ongoing plan. So we could put together a few things that we do with the expert scientists group of members then there’s the artists. It can also be said that what we do here with the exhibitions, the overall project is more of an artistic approach to things, very much focusing on the intuition of people and integrating them as actors into what we do. So, there’s a lot of artists within our network so projects like this in Brazil, we bring people there and artists, scientists, speakers so you can host talks and create exhibition spaces, cooking, installations, eating, integrating community. It’s very experimental the whole thing here, that definitely is something that is going to be on our agenda to go to other countries and create intercultural exchange.”

“Is your organization trying to be specifically international?”

“I would think that now everything is international, what isn’t? We have a strong internet presence, we write in English mainly so of course we do that because we are looking at the international audience and look at Berlin, the city is full of people from everywhere. It’s a pretty globalised world nowadays. Probably impossible to do anything that is purely national.”

“The visitors to the exhibitions, are those also international or people from Berlin?”

“I wouldn’t imagine that people so far have travelled to Berlin specifically to go see one of our events, but there have been international visitors who are already based in Berlin. But maybe one day people will come over night to Berlin for one of our exhibitions. But we also have for example international artists, we are now currently planning exhibitions with one artist from Italy, with two artists from Australia, so they are working together.”

You can read more information about the Contemporary Food Lab at their website: http://contemporaryfoodlab.com/

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