Press Release | Amsterdam, 16 March 2022
“When you say ‘potato’ the response is often an autobiography; potatoes provide a way for us to speak about ourselves.” Rebecca Earle (2019)
Foam proudly presents the exhibition of Ana Núñez Rodríguez. By collecting stories small and large, personal and historical, factual and fictional, Núñez Rodríguez investigates how “[t]he potato packs a universe of symbolic information on identity, domination and social differentiation.”
Cooking Potato Stories
The potato is cultivated almost everywhere, and globally cherished as an important part of local food cultures. What can a potato tell us about ourselves? Tracing the trajectory of the potato across the world, Ana Núñez Rodríguez asked herself this question. Núñez Rodríguez set out on a quest to unearth local ‘potato stories’ across the world, including her own childhood memories and her migratory trajectory between Spain, the Netherlands and Colombia. The resulting harvest of verbal and visual anecdotes, recipes, myths and memories surrounding the potato forms a mosaic of how the humble crop universally inspires cultural and individual identities. The many stories told in this exhibition present the humble potato as the product and cause of violence, famine and migration across the world. Yet they also talk about survival, sharing, belonging and family. The continuous transformation and adaptation of the potato becomes a metaphor for human resilience, and for how our identities are rooted in the stories we tell each other.
Influences around the world
The artist’s family history is fundamentally intertwined with that of the potato. The crop was first domesticated in South America and was brought to Europe by the Spanish conquistadores in the 16th century. Through a process of cultivation and modification, it continued to spark unprecedented population growth in Europe and beyond, and radically transformed local cuisines. From fries to aloo, tortilla, gnocchi, or ‘stamppot’, the tuber has since been widely adopted as a national or local food in countries across the world.
However intertwined our societies and economies are with the potato, none can truly call them native. The story of the potato began long before the concept of nation-states existed, and the trajectory of the potato from the Andes into our kitchens was marked by many obstacles. It took centuries for the crop to take root in the cold European soil, and was initially valued for its decorative flower. The work of Núñez Rodríguez shows us that the story of the potato is one of continuous metamorphosis and adjustment to its local surroundings; a feeling that the artist (and many with her) can identify with.
About the artist
Ana Núñez Rodríguez is based between Europe and Latin America. She studied Documentary Photography and Contemporary Creation at IDEP Barcelona, holds a postgraduate degree in Photography from the National University of Colombia and holds a Master degree in Photography and Society from the Royal Academy of Fine Arts (KABK) in The Hague. She was part of Lighthouse 2020-21, a program for upcoming talents at Fotodok, Utrecht.
This exhibition is made possible by the Van Bijlevelt Foundation, the Leeuwensteinstichting and Kleurgamma Fine-Art Photolab.
Acción Cultural Española (AC/E) supports the exhibition through the Programme for the Internationalisation of Spanish Culture (PICE).
Foam is supported by the VriendenLoterij, Foam Members, De Brauw Blackstone Westbroek, the VandenEnde Foundation and the Gemeente Amsterdam.
In 2022 Foam receives additional support from the Mondriaan Fund.
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