2007 Room: Scheme 2 - Kitchen/Dining

If You Can’t Stand the Heat…

An excerpt from an essay by Fiona Capp

Amid the polished gleam of the modern, stainless steel kitchen we can easily forget that this is the room in which fire was tamed and civilisation began. Reminders of the earliest form of kitchen can be found along our coastlines where Aboriginal ‘kitchen middens’ of shells and hearths are visible in the cliff faces.

We may no longer have hearths in our kitchens but the word itself remains a metaphor for the home. This is the room in which we are nurtured, fed and united each day as a family. The room in which we share our daily ordeals, and squabble with spouses, siblings or parents over who does the washing up. What glossy kitchen showrooms promise us is nothing less than a stage-set for some of life’s most intense and primal scenes. Family celebrations and conflicts, culinary fantasies, domestic drudgery and dreams of escape are all played out in this humble room.

All of us carry particular kitchens around in our heads: the kitchens of our grandmothers, the kitchens of our childhood, the kitchens of shared households, the kitchens of our adult lives. The fact that we talk about ‘my mother’s’ or ‘my grandmother’s’ kitchen is a reminder that the kitchen has traditionally been the domain of women...

A...note of ambivalence about the kitchen is found in Sarina Lirosi’s delicate duck and quail eggs decorated with the skins of Polaroid photographs of still life paintings. They provide a disturbing commentary on the idea of the ‘still life’ by drawing attention to how their beauty has been achieved at the expense of the life the eggs once contained. A similar ambivalence – in this case, a frisson of revulsion and attraction - is suggested by Sarina’s haunting, digital prints of silvery moths on plates and table cloths. 

The Chicken or the Egg?
The Chicken or the Egg? detail
The Chicken or the Egg? detail
Pantry Moth installation view