Feral Trade Café - Kate Rich

Feral Trade Café, an art exhibition that is also a working café, opens at HTTP Gallery for 8 weeks during Summer 2009. Serving food and drink traded over social networks, Feral Trade Café by artist Kate Rich (AU) provides a convivial setting from which to contemplate broader changes to our climate and economies, where conventional supply chains (for food delivery and cultural funding) could go belly up.

The term 'feral' denotes the project’s wilful wildness (as in pigeons) as opposed to romantic or nature-wildness (wolves): it offers street-wise survival tactics for urban environments. Since the first registered Feral Trade import of 30kg of coffee direct from the growers in El Salvador to the Cube Microplex in Bristol in 2003, Kate Rich has used social networks to traffic edible produce from around the world. Feral Trade participants become mules, carrying food items with them on trips they would have taken anyway and delivering them to depots (usually friends’ and colleagues’ flats or workplaces) in the growing network.

The process is facilitated by an online database, handcrafted by the artist, where couriers log their journeys. This forms the sole physical infrastructure for an alternative freight network, which operates without any material assets (vehicles, staff, communications devices, depots).

The exhibition includes a retrospective display of Feral Trade goods (2003-present) alongside ingredient transit maps, video, bespoke food packaging and other artefacts from the Feral Trade network. This is art that you can eat, and the café will serve a selection of Feral Trade products from a menu including coffee from El Salvador, hot chocolate from Mexico and sweets from Montenegro, as well as locally sourced bread, vegetables and herbs.

Feral Trade Café is the first element of Furtherfield.org's three-year Media Art Ecologies programme, which aims to provide opportunities for critical debate, exchange and participation in emerging ecological media art practices, and the theoretical, political and social contexts they engage. The café will be host to events, initiated by Furtherfield.org and others, examining issues related to the Feral Trade and Media Art Ecologies projects, including a Media Art Ecologies networking day.

On the occasion of the exhibition, Furtherfield.org and HTTP Gallery are pleased to publish an essay about the Feral Trade project by writer, artist and designer Femke Snelting of De Guezen (NL), to be made available on http://www.http.uk.net, information about events can also be found at this website.
Feral Trade Café - Kate Rich

Event Title: Feral Trade Café - Kate Rich
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Contact Email: Ruth Catlow, HTTP Gallery, ruth@furtherfield.org