Can kitchens stir up the way we connect with each other? Freitagsküche in Frankfurt, Germany invites artists and the community to explore the art of gathering around a meal
In an art world with traditional hierarchies, it isn’t easy bringing wealthy collectors, powerful curators, and bright-eyed art students together under one roof. But Freitagsküche, or Friday Kitchen has stumbled upon the perfect formula for an unforgettable evening- where unlikely actors rub shoulders in an informal setting with first-rate food.
Freitagsküche is the brainchild of contemporary German artist, Michael Riedel. Fresh out of art school, he and his larger circle of mostly artist friends would gather every Friday evening in an abandoned Frankfurt space to cook a meal together. They invited ‘untraditional’ artists to don an apron and create the menu, urging them to cook something that was somehow uniquely and deeply personal. Friends would pitch in. Failures and mix-ups were the secret ingredient that made the meal so authentically different.
It was a welcome break from conformity and convention, something Riedel would become known for in his ensuing art career. He pulled remnants of gallery exhibits out of dumpsters and re-hung the art. He hired actors to follow artists at openings and mime their every move. By terrorizing the characteristically uptight art scene, he landed exhibits in New York galleries and a retrospective at the Schirn Kunsthalle Frankfurt, one of the most important contemporary art spaces in Germany.
In part because it subverts the traditional art world’s social scene, the Freitagsküche concept is no less provocative. As word got out, the makeshift restaurant grew into a work of art in its own right. Well-known participating artist ‘chefs’ drew increasingly larger crowds, and Riedel responded by adding live music, temporary exhibits, and new venues. He recently set up tables at the Ruhrtriennale art festival, where artists such as Rimini Protokoll cooked up a meal (the theater group behind Situation Rooms).
Guests were in for a delectable treat of borscht, rabbit, stuffed pancakes, and dessert. And they were welcomed... not by guest lists, velvet ropes, or seating charts at the door... but by an open and sparsely decorated room waiting to inflate with good food and conversation. Young and old would mingle and meet, sharing a laugh over borscht-splattered tablecloths and buzzed toasts drowned out by the music. Rimini Protokoll joined right in, blending into the hum of the atmosphere they helped create.
The evening would end in typical Friday Kitchen form, with unlikely contacts made, new collaborations (or careers) formed, and memories created, all with a burning aftertaste for more.