Hong Kong culture and its people’s relationship with food explored in art exhibition SAD Kitchen

Of the many ways an individual community can express itself, food is among the most accessible, straightforward, and universal. But it’s very personal. No two people will have an identical food experience, and each person has a relationship with the kitchen.

In this coronavirus epidemic, social apathy stifled the basic human need of eating and sharing space, causing barriers to social interaction in previously social places.

The experience inspired Silas Fong Sum-yu to develop “SAD Kitchen Oi! Guide The Comfort Food Journey” An interactive exhibit of his residency as an artist at Oi!, a government-owned art gallery in North Point.

SAD is the acronym for School of Artists Development, the ongoing project of conceptualist Fong that responds to his research about education and arts-related subjects through video installations, installations, and publications.

Silas Fong Sum-yu’s “SAD Kitchen: Oi! Guide”A Comfort Food Journey” A Comfort Food Journey” is an interactive show at the Oi! The art space is on Oil Street, North Point, Hong Kong. Photo: Oi!

The main focus of comfort food is more on the food rather than the idea behind it.

“There’s no Chinese translation for the English term ‘comfort food,'” says Fong, who was pondering the different ways people behave to feel comfortable when he looked into the journey of comfort food from stages of cooking to sharing.

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In the midst of being isolated during the epidemic, He contacted other artists and others to share their favorite comfort food recipes, cooked meals in the kitchen, and “dined” with others in different places with the help of social networks.

The story is portrayed by a film installation positioned above an open kitchen counter in the show. Fong writes in The Washington Post: “In the process, I felt less alone as I focused on the recipe owners’ personal stories as shown in the video’s subtitles, realizing that we all experience sadness similarly.”

“A Comfort Food Journey” is divided into three parts: wash, cook, and eat – the food preparation process. Visitors are allowed and encouraged to interact with every item in the interactive exhibit.

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A few kitchen appliances are natural, such as the refrigerator that is connected and functioning correctly, The bread and the vegetables on the kitchen counter, and the bell pepper, sausage, and piece of cake on the dining table; however, they aren’t.

“A Comfort Food Journey” examines our relationship to food, eating together, and the culture. Photo: Oi!

The 3D-printed utensils, appliances, and other household items scattered throughout the exhibit’s three main zones hide a treasure trove of Easter eggs.

A light-hearted mockery of the MBTI test as a psychometric test as well as similar online personality tests, Fong created a “Comfort Food Psychological Test.” In the circular reception at the show’s heart, visitors will be offered an answer sheet with multiple choices, similar to exam papers used in public schools. The artist hopes to trigger nostalgia among those who grew up in Hong Kong.

Many of the 30 questions tucked away under the kitchen sink and kettles and rice cookers relate to the dining rituals in Hong Kong, such as “If you’re cooking rice but not sure how many people will be eating, what would you do?”; “How much sugar do you add when you make milk tea at home?” And, “What kind of company do you prefer during a meal?” (Choose between the computer, people, television video call, or none).

After answering as many questions as possible, participants can assess their scores and hand the test to one of the “comfort food specialists,” who will give the result on the card with an illustration of food.

Game cards are utilized to test a humorous personality in the book by Fong, “SAD Kitchen: Oi! Guide – A Comfort Food Journey”. Photo: Oi!

Fong refers to this as a “Comfort Food Guide,” offering food recommendations for the area close to Oil Street, from cucumber espresso to seasonal gelato made from local ingredients and delicious slow-cooked soups and black sesame rolls. It’s an old-fashioned Hong Kong dessert.

A solo traveler who needs companionship for the North Point adventure can ask for”food companions” or “food companion”, but this service is only available during specific times.

Visitors are also asked to record the recipes they have created, ranging from ingredients to recipes to methods, in”the “comfort food sharing” sheet. It does not have to be limited to food items. The selected responses will be published on the “SAD Kitchen Comfort Food Share Board.”


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