Empire Shops were first developed in 1920s London to teach the British how to consume foodstuffs from the colonies and overseas territories. Though none of the stores ever opened, they were meant to make sultanas from Australia, oranges from Palestine, cloves from Zanzibar, and rum from Jamaica available and familiar in the British Isles.
The Empire Remains Shop speculates on the possibility and implications of selling back the remains of the British Empire in London today. A public installation by London-based duo Cooking Sections, The Empire Remains Shop hosts a critical programme of discussions, performances, dinners, installations and screenings.
The storefront and upper floor of 91-93 Baker Street features a range of new commissions and existing works that employ food as a tool to assemble new sites and geographies, while exploring origins, destinations and exchanges across the present and future of our postcolonial planet. Visitors to The Empire Remains Shop can taste, buy, or take part in the ongoing programme that will change over the project’s lifespan.
The Empire Remains Shop traces the contemporary history of imperial fruit, sugar, rum, cocoa, spices, and condiments, as well as the economies and aesthetics that emerged from them. It attests the ways in which global food networks have evolved up until today. Through its wide range of contributors, The Empire Remains Shop is a platform to investigate and explore the invention of the “exotic” and the “tropical,” shrimp sandwiches, conflict geologies, the financialisation of ecosystems, “unnatural” behaviours, the ecological perception of “invasive” and “native” species, “culturally neutral” food aid, the banana that colonised the world, retiring to former colonies, the construction of the offshore and Special Economic Zones, and much, much more.
Contributions by: Cohen Van Balen, Stella Bottai, Elisabetta Brighi, Forager Collective, Jesse Connuck, Blue Curry, Annalee Davis, FRAUD, Natasha Ginwala, Ros Gray, Raphaël Grisey, Ayesha Hameed, Nitasha Kaul, Laleh Khalili, Richie Maitland (Groundation Grenada), Asunción Molinos, Uriel Orlow, Anjalika Sagar (The Otolith Group), Jana Scholze, Cooking Sections, Shela Sheikh, Shahmen Suku/Radha La Bia, An Endless Supply, Joni Taylor (New Landscapes Institute), Bouba Touré and Nicole Wolf amongst many others.
Full programme of events here.
The Empire Remains is a long-term research project that began in 2013 to explore the infrastructure and cultural imaginaries established within the British Empire to promote gastronomic and agricultural exchange between home and overseas at the beginning of the 20th century. It takes as a starting the Empire Marketing Board—a British governmental agency that promoted colonial trade in the 1920–30s through fine art, film and graphic propaganda.
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The Empire Remains Shop is developed in collaboration with the Politics of Food Programme, Delfina Foundation.
The Empire Remains Shop and its rethinking of food infrastructures is supported by The Empire Remains Shop Visionary, Nicoletta Fiorucci.
The Empire Remains Shop is made possible thanks to: Arts Council England, Outset, Keir Foundation, Acción Cultural Española (AC/E), Stanley Picker Gallery, Kingston University, The Showroom and The Koppel Project.
Since 2013 the research process of The Empire Remains has been supported by Jumex Fundación Arte Contemporáneo, Natural History Society Glasgow, UTS Sydney, CCA Glasgow, MuseumsQuartier Vienna, The New Institute Rotterdam, Oslo Triennale, Artport, EIB Luxembourg and De Appel Arts Centre Amsterdam.
Opening: August 4, 6pm
The Empire Remains Shop
91-93 Baker Street
London W1U 6QQ