ongoing research project with Mater Intitativa the research arm of MIL and Central in Peru
Interviews and Design Mediation
During a four-week research trip in Moray, Cuzco’s Sacred Valley, Cocinas Alterinas investigated the hidden relationships between humans and land through cultivation and cooking practices.
We dove into the Inca’s agricultural calendar during the months of July and August, the dry season, through collective practices from the chacra (orchard field), the research labs and the kitchen. Invited by MATER Initiative and supported by Pro Helvetia South America, we collaborated with MIL and CENTRAL gastronomy and research teams and networks of producers and artisans. We learned from the skilled members and representatives of the agricultural local communities of Mullak’as Misminay and Kacllaraccay.
We gathered plural and complementary knowledges around the food, time and landscape, with a special focus on medicinal properties and natural dye extractions of seasonal botanicals. We managed to translate three weeks of lessons from the chakra (field), the liquids lab and the kitchens into three prototypes: a table map based on the mediation tool in Mater, a colour calendar and a collective meal. Bringing together all origins and knowledge(s) in a reciprocal exchange.
Due to the different complexities of this research, we trusted the mentorship of four experts to guide our design-research process. We worked with three indigenous Quechua masters: Mama Eusebia and Isaac Riquelme (Ollantaytambo) in ancestral cooking methods and Soledad Secca (Occopata) in runasimi translation and mediation. We also co-developed the curatorial framework of the space and objects for the dinner performance with our fourth mentors, Johanna Sarmiento and Antonio Sorrentino from the ALQA museum team in Ollantaytambo.
Along our trip, we conducted 20 interviews with different contributors to our research and larger project. These interviews helped add a personal note and scope but also connected different struggles across the territories we visited. They helped elaborate on how climate change has been felt and affected the region, making it graspable through examples as decrementing coffee and cocoa crops to endangering rituals and agricultural techniques. The human - nature relationships behind the climate emergency became visible through these conversations, showing an other side of collective endurance and creativity in the dry season.