it’s hot


Exhibition ‘Popote’, Espace Dukat
∼12 minutes


MATERIALWood, MDF, Acrylic Paint, Table mat, Basic kitchen disposable cutlery, video 

Food is a common language that humans speak and that transcends boundaries. It can either break or bring communities together. Using this as a tool, the performance installation invites the audience to take a moment together to enjoy some ‘authentic’ ‘Indian’ food, surrounded by all things ‘Indian’. It invites people to question their surroundings and dives into the elements of visual, emotional, physical and psychological manipulation, or also known as propaganda.

SCENE 1 (∼7 minutes)There is a whiff of warm food with spices around. The incense stick is burning, it smells holy, and you spot the Hindu Goddesses. You see an exotic unfamiliar script that you do not recognise. There are posters all around you, proudly selling the promise of 100% authentic Indian food. From behind the stall emerges a brown-skinned woman adorned in traditional Indian attire. With a smile, she extends her heartfelt welcome, sharing her experience as a first-time migrant in Switzerland. As she introduces you to her traditional food, your senses are excited with the promise of authenticity. 
    You eat the food she offers because it seems authentic, the person selling it seems authentic. But is it really?

The narrator welcomes everyone to the stall, 
and tells everyone the story of her life. 

The narrator serves the ‘Indian’ food to 
everyone interested. 

Someone from the audience asks the narrator whether she served ‘Indian’ food or not, as it kind of tasted Swiss. 

The narrator, emotionally responds as to why she would do that. How dare anyone question her, an Indian woman, on the authenticity of her own cuisine? She quashes concern by being defensive and closes the stall to have a conversation further. 

The closed stall comes to life on its own, to explain further. 

SCENE 2  (∼6 minutes) It slowly hits you. What seems authentic is not authentic. Then, you get schooled. Food has become a lesson on what propaganda is and how to spot it.  

The street stall claimed to be selling three famous Indian street snacks: Bhelpuri (puffed rice snack), Aloo Tikki (fried potato snack) and Paneer Tikka (cubes of Indian cottage cheese). 
    As the customers excitedly ate the ‘Indian’ food served, they realised that the flavours were quite similar to their home cuisine and were quite confused. 
    It was because Swiss-European food was served to customers, that looked similar to their Indian counterparts, packaged the Indian way, tricking the customers. They were served charcuterie, instead of bhelpuri, rosti instead of aloo tikki and blocks of gruyere cheese instead of paneer tikka. 
1. The stall design uses the propagandistic element of intentional vagueness as the stall reads Swiss Restaurant (in Hindi), Flavours of India (in French) and Streets of India, making it seem like it is called a Swiss Restaurant since it is in India, but also fluctuates between the fact that it is actually a Swiss restaurant selling Swiss food, keeping the vibe of the stall vague.

2. The Swiss-European dishes mentioned in Hindi.
2. 1. Charcuterie written in Hindi
2.2 Rosti written in Hindi
2.3 Cheese written in Hindi

3. Narrator dressed in traditional Indian attire -  saree. 
4. Intentional usage of graphics of the food to trick the customers with ambiguity in the representation of the food offered.

5.  Intentional usage of props to mimic authentic Indian street food space experience. 
6. Posters pasted around the space, as a form of repetition, an element of propaganda, to further the make-believe.