From Friday 10 February 2017, the Wereldmuseum presents the exhibition I cook, therefore I am. A culinary tale by Abdelkader Benali. Rotterdam is the perfect stage for this: a world city with a rich and unrivalled diversity of food cultures. With an intriguing and impressive selection from the museum collection, supplemented with exceptional pieces on loan, writer and historian Abdelkader Benali and art historian Alexandra van Dongen present the story of the role of food in our earthly existence.
Our relationship with food is surrounded by rituals, social conventions, taboos, and prescriptions laid down in our contemporary cooking and food cultures. Culinary secrets from Rotterdam and the rest of the world reveal the social and cultural significance of cooking and meals, as well as the dynamic migration of food, people, and objects. I cook, therefore I am is a little different from most exhibitions. It is a voyage of discovery through four thousand years of civilization all over the world, from Baghdad to Peru and from Tokyo to Rotterdam.
The Wereldmuseum's collection takes centre stage in this exhibition. In the museum repository, Abdelkader selected one of the most striking objects from the collection: the yam house, originating from Olivilevi, a village on the Trobriand Islands. Following the restoration, made possible by the Mondriaan Fonds (Mondriaan Fund), the yam house can now be seen at the Wereldmuseum for the first time. A very special gift has also been given by the visual artist and filmmaker Roy Villevoye, comprising a ceremonial sago larvae trough and bags originating from the Asmat people, now on show for the first time in the museum. Benali and Van Dongen selected a large variety of objects from the collection that bring us in contact with what we are in essence: cooking beings. We steam, stew, roast, fry, and grill, and we share this with each other in all manner of forms. We eat alone, at the table, standing, in the street, at parties, and with the family.
The Wereldmuseum takes you on a journey around the globe, offering insight into cultures and traditions different from our own. The exhibitions are also a reflection of Rotterdam’s wanderlust, international connections, colonial past and trading spirit.