Monday 18 January 2010
12 February 2010, Slemani
130 Edgware Road
It is our 9th meal and it is getting very hard to face another falafel.
Iraqi falafels are wonderful! They are different and combine just the right amount of spiciness, crispness and fluffiness!
This was our 9th falafel meal, so we felt like trying more of the Iraqi food on offer. The menu looked delicious and included Iraqi dishes such as Mahshi and Dolma (stuffed vegetables), Biryani, Quzi and much more. We ordered quite a bit. It was 7 of us this time including Janna and Hiwa K (Artist in residence) from the Serpentine Edgware Rd. project and Aileen Daly (Art editor) and Howie Jaffe, a TV producer.
Hiwa is from Iraq (Kurdistan) and he advised us to drink Shinina with our meal. He said Iraqis drink this with everything. It is a salty yogurt drink and it came in a huge pitcher to our table.
Hiwa K told us that the name of the restaurant Slemani, where we sat, is the name of his hometown and so the food and music are very familiar.
He also told us that he couldn’t enter Israel nor Palestine. He couldn’t enter Israel because he is seen there as Iraqi, and Palestine as he is seen as a Kurd, and hence a supporter of the USA. He explained than many Kurds do support the USA and see them as saviours from the hardships they had to suffer by previous regimes. Hiwa said that he would love to visit Palestine/Israel.
For his residency at the Serpentine Edgware project, he is planning to revive 1970s songs and music from countries such as Afghanistan, Egypt and Iraq, with local singers and music players. He also mentioned a project titled Estrangement, a multi-stage international project initiated by curator Aneta Szylak and artist Hiwa K. He talked about how they changed the blog when they got various criticisms from fellow artists in relation to orientalist representations, and how those who gave the feedback, were pleased by the fact that their feedback was followed through. This is of great interest to us, since we run a blog, and always seek feedback.
The food was great, but we had such a hard time hearing one another. The music was too loud for any conversation to take place unfortunately. At some point during the night the music calmed down a little bit at which time we started discussing the idea of making a reality show based on some ideas that came up during our falafel road residency. We thought it should include elements of falafel cooking and a big brother type environment, with 10 falafel makers from various national and cultural backgrounds. Eileen’s friend
Howie Jaffe who had produced various documentaries and Reality TV shows for channels such as MTV and others, told us that he spent 2 weeks in 2004 with a colleague trying to come up with a pitch for a falafel TV project, but did not feel they nailed it, so we talked about joining forces on that one. We decided we should meet later and talk about it seriously under quieter circumstances. We also recorded him over and over again saying the same thing about falafel, as it was so noisy, it was the first time we had to ‘act’ for the camera. He said that now he know what it feels like to be on the other side of the camera☺
We are very excited about the idea and are planning to follow it through.
The conversation went more surreal with the music, the lighting and our thoughts of what to do on the 25th for the open studio. On the agenda were falafel fights, and putting all the falafel ingredients on the floor (chick peas, parsley, pepper, etc.) whilst all are invited to take their shoes off and mash the ingredients into a pulp, like wine making. We want a big mess, actions, physical involvement, but we need a concept to go with it. We don’t want to represent the Middle East yet again as a site of battle and mess.