Critical Recipes


See Schedule Below

While we do not usually think of cooking shows and cookbooks as political or philosophical — they don’t demand from us a social concern, or present any sort of argument or side, they don’t tell us a story, and we don’t need to watch all episodes of a cooking show to know what’s going on or even to care (perhaps we’re in it just for one recipe) — they still influence our perceptions and notions of the world through methods and ingredients, acting as repositories of tastes and transmitters of ideas, somehow exerting their authority and validity through the format of ‘guidance’.

For the 12th edition of PhotoIreland Festival, we decided to produce an online cooking channel of our own, one that doesn’t suggest authority or instruction but rather inspires ideas, philosophical and historical consideration, and food for thought. Critical Recipes presents a programme of performances, taking the model of a cooking show as an inspiration and departure point to put forward critical discussions.

Grab a seat and enjoy a menu proposed by six artists through six episodes. It starts with a reflection on hospitality and hosting from Jennie Moran in collaboration with performance artist Aoibhinn O’Dea. Artist April Gertler leads us on a journey towards Ireland’s traditional cake, delving into its past and present. Deirdre O’Mahony draws on her decade-long research project SPUD, to inquire further into our colonial past. Deirdre’s Oppression Digestion is presented alongside Making Stock by Fiona Hallinan who proposes a symbiosis between taking care of our environments and ecologies through the nourishment and care of ourselves. The Center for Genomic Gastronomy take us a little farther from home in a conversational cooking show on national dishes, discussing how evolving Irish foodways might be in dialogue with the foodways of one of its neighbours to the north – Norway. Finally, Ana Nuñez Rodriguez brings together old and new stories from Ireland to build a new social memory around the potato, hosting different voices, perspectives, and resources around this mighty root.

Image: Fiona Hallinan, I remember oranges you remember dust.
Photo by Thomas Raggam.

Broadcast  Schedule

Sat 3 Jul — Jennie Moran and Aoibhinn O’Dea

Enter quickly, for I am afraid of my happiness

The performance episode is available on the Critical Recipes channel and at the top of this page.

Through a set of tools and accessories, artist Jennie Moran dramatises the gestures of hospitality — placing them under a microscope and enlarging them, exposing all their fissures and pores, magnifying them until their features become hard to recognise. She develops a set of tools and accessories to accompany these gestures and they are thoughtfully activated by dance performance artist Aoibhinn O’Dea.

The commissioned video piece was launched on the Critical Recipes channel on the 3rd July 2021.

About the Artists

Jennie Moran is a Dublin based artist who uses her practice to create opportunities for hospitality. She has gathered knowledge through a degree in sculpture at the National College of Art and Design; international residencies at NES Iceland, Fondazione Ratti, Italy and Galleria Blanda, Buenos Aires. Her projects have been facilitated by Dublin City Council Art Bursary, Arts Council Project Award, Artist in the Community Award, Engaging with Architecture Award and a Visual Art Bursary.

Aoibhinn O’Dea is a choreographer, performer and dance teacher based in Dublin and Berlin. Her dance practice is influenced by Improvisation, Instant Composition, Vertical Dance, Floorwork and Somatic Movement. Her movement research responds to the ever metamorphosing body.

Aoibhinn completed her contemporary dance training at Tanzfabrik, Berlin 2020. She founded BLUSH, a Berlin based collective that merges the lines of dance, theatre and circus. Aoibhinn is passionate about spreading the benefits of Dance and Somatic Practice to the wider community. She is currently guiding somatic movement classes online. She collaborates with artists from different backgrounds in Dance, Theatre, Visual Artists and Musicians.


Top image: Jennie Moran and Luncheonette by Louis Haugh.
Above image: Aoibhinn O’Dea by Maya Strindberg.

10am Sat 10 July — April Gertler

TAKE THE CAKE: Ireland, a prelude.

The audio podcast episode featuring artist Pádraig Spillane is available on the Critical Recipes channel and at the top of this page.

TAKE THE CAKE explores generosity and hosting. The format brings the backdrop of a cooking show into a live multi-sensory/multi-disciplinary lecture-performance culminating with the sharing of freshly baked cakes with the audience.

April Gertler was invited by PhotoIreland Festival to produce an Irish episode of TAKE THE CAKE. As part of the process, April would complete a residency in County Cork connecting with locals, gathering histories and traditions of a local cake. The collected stories would then evolve into a performance involving baking the cake live. The often humorous and personal performance mixes the practicalities of baking with a historical feminist discourse on women’s work in the kitchen in relation to both the industrialisation and history of baking, and an analysis of capitalist influences on the modernisation of baking. The residency was postponed due to the pandemic to Autumn 2021, culminating in a live performance. In the meantime, as a prelude, April presents a podcast episode featuring a conversations with artist Pádraig Spillane, as part of the Critical Recipes channel, finding the answer to the question “what is THE traditional Irish cake?”.

Some previous performances have included; Hungarian Cherry Cake partially focused on the long term effects of commercialised baking on women and The Sponge which examined the fertility of women and chickens. The most recent edition Appeltaart (2020) examined the idea of identity, specifically Dutchness, through cake, and addressed the post-colonial discourse in relation to key ingredients of the cake; apples, sugar and cinnamon.

About the Artist

April Gertler is an American artist who has been living and working in Berlin since 2005. She studied Social Science Interdisciplinary Studies at University California, Berkeley (BA Hons), Photography at California College of the Arts (BFA) and Photography at Bard College (MFA). After a semester abroad at the Städelschule in Frankfurt/Main, and finishing her MFA, April returned to Frankfurt/Main and subsequently moved to Berlin. 

April’s work is preoccupied with the idea of the communal experience as an access point. The communal moment has taken a variety of forms for her including lecture-performance, self-published artist books, one night bars and exhibitions, in addition to durational artist walks. Further extensions of her practice include her cultural programming and curatorial projects. 

She has exhibited, performed and taught internationally. In 2009, April started a peer-to-peer knowledge exchange art program PICTURE BERLIN for international artists. Since the start of PICTURE BERLIN, April has been simultaneously working on her own practice which has included other performative and curatorial projects such as Sonntag and TAKE THE CAKE – a lecture-performance and baking show. In the Summer 2021 April will be opening a new project space in Berlin-Neukölln called WIRWIR, with Adrian Schiesser. April has been teaching Analog Photography as an Adjunct Professor at Bard College Berlin in Berlin, Germany since Spring 2016.


Image: April Gertler, TAKE THE CAKE: Appeltaart. Photo by Amber Rose

6pm Sat 17 July — Deirdre O'Mahony

Oppression Digestion

The Oppression Digestion episode will be available alongside Fiona Hallinan’s Making Stock from 6pm Saturday 17th July, followed by a live online talk with both artists. 

Presented as a performance lecture, O’Mahony examines attitudes towards farming, land use, post-colonial identity, and food security, while making Boxty pancakes from raw and cooked potatoes. Drawing on research for her decade-long SPUD project, she will trace the history of global and bio-political power through the potato and the role it played in consolidating and concentrating power in Europe in the seventeenth and eighteenth century. The potato brought with it a possibility of freedom from recurring cycles of famine but also a precarious dependency on monoculture.

The lecture will conclude by branding the Boxty with a M.O.P.E. (Most Oppressed People Ever), branding iron. MOPE is a term coined in the 1990s to ridicule claims that the Irish were more ill-treated than any people, at any time in history.  Throughout the SPUD project O’Mahony has used the tool to prompt a re-thinking of our relationship with a food that is still associated for some, with the idea of shame. The tongue-in-cheek acronym referring to Ireland’s colonial past and unacknowledged, undigested subjectivities and fears that get in the way of thinking about political inertia and global inequalities in the face of climate change and future food security.

About the Artist

Deirdre O’Mahony is a visual artist whose practice is informed by a deep interest in rural sustainability, farming, food security and rural/urban relationships. For more than two decades she has investigated the political ecology of rural places through public engagement, archival and moving image installation, critical writing and cultural production.

Her projects include “X-PO”, a former rural post-office in the west of Ireland revived as a social space that has since been recognised as an exceptional socially engaged artwork. Her project SPUD spans over a decade, developed through collaborative public events to facilitate discourse on agricultural issues and tacit knowledge. SPUD included The Persistent Return, a moving image installation at VISUAL Carlow that toured to the European Capital of Culture Leeuwarden. Her other projects include CERERE, as part of Horizon 2020, Grasslands, for European Capital of Culture Aarhus and Speculative Optimism as a selection for the first Welcome Trust residency at the Museum of English Rural Life (MERL), UK.

Deirdre has been selected for residencies at Centre Culturel Irlandais, Leitrim Sculpture Centre, IMMA, Museum of English Rural Life, and Askeaton Contemporary Arts. In 2018 she received the Irish American Cultural Institute O’Malley Award, an Arts Council bursary, Arts Council project awards, and an international Pollock-Krasner Award.

Deirdre O’Mahony was born in 1956 in Ireland and attended St Martins School of Art London (BA), the Crawford College Cork (MA) and the University of Brighton (PhD). She lived and worked in Clare until 2017 and is now based in Callan County Kilkenny.


Image: M.O.P.E. Branding Iron made on Residency at the Scottish Sculpture Centre Residency. Photo by Deirdre O’Mahony

6pm Sat 17 July — Fiona Hallinan

Making Stock

The Making Stock episode will be available alongside Deirdre O’Mahony’s Oppression Digestion from 6pm Saturday 17th July, followed by a live online talk with both artists.

At the beginning of her 1951 book The Sea Around Us, the writer Rachel Carson describes the emergence of humans from the salty sea hundreds of millions of years ago, and how we took some of that brine with us in the 70 percent of liquid that comprises our bodies. Artist Fiona Hallinan presents a performance centred around the preparation of a broth, proposing a symbiosis between taking care of our environments and ecologies through the nourishment and care of ourselves.

Recipe for a garlic, seaweed and shiitake mushroom broth
Suggested ingredients:
1.5 litres of water
6 shiitake mushrooms
1 piece of kombu seaweed
4 bay leaves
4 medium red onions
3 celery sticks
Olive oil
25 garlic cloves
2 teaspoons of grated fresh ginger
1 teaspoon thyme leaves
A pinch of saffron thread
1 teaspoon of sea salt
A small bunch of curly parsley
A small bunch of coriander
3 spring onions
a dollop of plain yoghurt
2 red chillies
1 lemon or lime

First prepare your vegetables. Peel and finely chop the garlic, mushrooms, onions, celery. Peel and grate the ginger. Pick the leaves of the herbs and chop.

Steep the saffron strands in about three tablespoons of warm water.

Prepare your stock base using discarded parts of what you have prepared: the stalks of the mushrooms and herbs, onion and ginger peels, tops of garlic. Add these to a pot of all 1.5 litres of water along with the kombu seaweed, one chilli if you are using, sliced down the middle and bay leaves. Bring to the boil and simmer for as long as you can, up to 3 hours.

After enough time has passed, strain your stock, reserving the liquid and the seaweed. Chop the seaweed and return to the soup. Add the saffron and its liquid and the grated ginger. Taste and season with salt. This is your stock base.

Heat some olive oil in a heavy-bottomed pan and gently fry the thyme, garlic, celery and red onion until they soften and colour. This might take a little while. Add the mushrooms and cook for a further 5 minutes.

Add everything from the pan to the stock base and stir. Heat gently and check seasoning, adding a grind of black pepper. Serve the soup in bowls with a drizzle of yoghurt, good olive oil and a generous bunch of herbs, chopped red chilli and spring onions on top. Finish with a squeeze of lemon or lime.

About the Artist

Fiona Hallinan is an artist, researcher and co-founder of the Department of Ultimology, based between Brussels, Belgium and Cork, Ireland. She is a PhD student at LUCA School of Arts, KU Leuven, where her artistic research explores the coming-into-being of Ultimology, the study of that which is dead or dying (death here encompassing both the end of life and the passing into irrelevance, redundancy or extinction of material and immaterial entities), as a tool for transformative discourse. She is interested in themes of hospitality, thresholds, care and critical pedagogy and often works with food as part of her practice.

As part of this research she set up the On Death reading group, a monthly online gathering that explores different conceptions, constructions and approaches to questions of death, dying and the dead through close reading of multiple sources drawn from across a wide range of disciplines and geographies.

Her work has been shown at Kerlin Gallery, IMMA, Mother’s Tankstation, Parsons Paris and Brown University.


Image: Fiona Hallinan at Grazer Kunstverein, I remember oranges you remember dust. Photo by Thomas Raggam

6pm Sat 24 July — The Center for Genomic Gastronomy

Norvegan National Dish

This is an interactive live online event, hosted by The Center for Genomic Gastronomy, developed for PhotoIreland Festival’s Critical Recipes channel.

National dishes — like nations themselves — can change overnight.

In 2001 Britain declared that its new national dish was Chicken Tikka Masala. In 2014 Norway launched a (failed) competition to replace its national dish (Fårikål), which itself was only selected via a competition in 1972.

National dishes are attempts to symbolise identity through ingredients and recipes, but identity, farming practices and values are always changing. Maybe each country should choose a new national dish every few years, or at least once a decade. After 50 years, Norway needs another shot at a new national dish. What if Norway’s next national dish only included plants?: A Norvegan National Dish.

In this conversational cooking show you will be introduced to some of the possible ingredients and recipes that could vie for the title of “Norvegan National Dish”. We will discuss the taste, symbolism and meaning of Norwegian plant-based ingredients and discuss how evolving Irish foodways might be in dialogue with the foodways of one of its neighbours to the north.

Participants in the Norvegan National Dish cooking conversation will be introduced to some of the basic techniques for processing plant-based ingredients into building blocks for a delicious recipe. We will imagine and prototype a plant-based Norwegian national dish and discuss it in relation to evolving Irish foodways through demoing some or all of the following: vegan oat yogurt, koji-fermented carrots, and beetroot gravlox.

About the Artists

The Center for Genomic Gastronomy is an artist-led think tank launched in 2010 by Cathrine Kramer (NO) and Zack Denfeld (US) that examines the biotechnologies and biodiversity of human food systems. Their mission is to map food controversies, prototype alternative culinary futures and imagine a more just, biodiverse & beautiful food system. The Center presents its research on the organisms and environments manipulated by human food cultures in the form of public lectures, research publications, meals and exhibitions. They have conducted research in Europe, Asia, and North America, collaborating with scientists, chefs, hackers and farmers. The Center’s work has been published in WIRED, We Make Money Not Art, Science, Nature and Gastronomica and exhibited at the World Health Organization, Kew Gardens, The Victoria and Albert Museum, Science Gallery Dublin and others.

6pm Sat 31 July — Ana Núñez Rodríguez

Cooking Potato Stories

The live event will take place at 6pm on Saturday 31st July. The recording will be made available after on the Critical Recipes channel, in this page.

What can a potato tell us about ourselves? What does it say about the construction of national identity? What role can new narratives about the potato play in creating expanded social imaginaries? How can trans-local stories and food cultures be connected as an inroad to address forgotten colonial legacies and the wider context of political, social, and emotional relationships?

The history of the potato is marked by many obstacles to its adaptation and acceptance as a food crop: a long process of transformation, throughout which, many conflicts, beliefs and traditions stood in its way. Attending this long journey and process of adaptation reveals some ways that plants have served us in manifestations of our power over nature and other people. Here, this will serve to open a conversation about identity, politics, and some of the difficulties that must be overcome when adapting to new contexts and the forms of power that are within. The potato packs a universe of symbolic information on identity, domination and social differentiation that the artist put to use here to reflect on the effects of colonisation on our subjectivities, knowledge production and critical thinking.

It is a multi-layered trans-local story that follows the routes and roots of the potato through the context of Galicia, Colombia, and The Netherlands. For this edition of PhotoIreland Festival, Ana expands on the current collection of stories to include those from Ireland. She has worked with a number of participants in an exchange of stories, as well as gathering archival images, articles, and written stories from Irish history. These will be told in this live event, with special guests Regina Sexton — a food and culinary historian and the programme manager of the Postgraduate Diploma in Irish Food Culture at the University College of Cork — and Barry Whelan, a former student of Regina. Ana and PhotoIreland Festival will also produce a new Cooking Potato Stories publication in Autumn, following the festival, incorporating these new Irish stories. The collection continues and stories are still being gathered. If you would like to share your story, you can find out more at this link.

About the Artist

Ana Núñez Rodríguez is a photographer based between Europe and Latin America. Her work is influenced by how European and Latin America reality converge in her life, interrogating herself about identity and politics and their complexities marked by the collective memory and cultural heritage. Ana has a degree in Documentary Photography and Contemporary Creation at IDEP Barcelona and Postgraduate in Photography from the National University of Colombia. She recently graduated with honours from the Master in Photography and Society at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in The Hague (KABK), The Netherlands. She is currently part of Lighthouse 2020-21, a program for upcoming talents at Fotodok, Utrecht (The Netherlands).


Image courtesy of the artist


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Published on the occasion of the twelfth edition of PhotoIreland Festival, this limited edition publication will present a record and reflection of the month-long programme of events. In addition, readers will find exclusive texts and work, expanding on the conversations had during the festival. We invited a number of contributors to reflect on the theme of the festival and some of the artists presented.

Find out more and pre-order