What's Eating Reality? - Leeds International Festival

What’s Eating Reality?

In recent years our collective consciousness has focused more and more on the environment.

We have famously banned plastic straws and all watched a lot more David Attenborough. However, our global food systems are still something of a mystery, despite causing huge environmental and economic impact on our planet.

What’s Eating Reality is an event coming to Leeds in May that is keen to bust that mystery.

On the 7th of May we are gathering people in the city to learn more about food justice and the politics around what we do or don’t eat, like a Ted Talk but with sweets. The city has an incredible history of innovation when it comes to food sustainability. We were the proud owners of the first Pay What You Feel Supermarket and the birthplace of the revolutionary Real Junk Food Project. So it would be rude not to celebrate really.

It’s easy to assume that events like What’s Eating Reality have been designed to make you feel guilty about how many chicken nuggets you eat. But actually we see this forum as an opportunity to excite and inspire people. We want to feed you some locally sourced treats and introduce you to some incredible people who are saving the world. We have teamed up with artist Maya Chowdhry to deliver this event, and to mark the occasion Maya has made some playful, augmented reality experiences for you and your smartphone that focus on the food production systems around coffee and sugar.

Totally ignoring the sage advice to never play with your food, Maya is testing out ideas for an event set to hit Leeds in 2020. Using 3D-projection mapping and a three course meal, you will leave dinner ready to set up your own seed bank and question why your plate isn’t always so chatty. So keep your eyes out for more information on that event in Leeds International Festival 2020.

Sure to give you some prime conversation content for weeks I recommend grabbing your reusable cup and a ticket to this one off event.

Anna Turzynski is an independent arts producer, living and working in Leeds.


Word from the artist

Living in a world where everyone has access to good affordable food has always been an important part of my life as I journeyed from catering college to activist artist. At age 11, visiting India for the first time with my family, I experienced first hand inequalities existing in the global south, and vowed to work to change this. I have used my art practice to communicate ideas to a wide range of people, activating and empowering them to take part in making a fairer world for all.

I came to Leeds two years ago on an arts residency with Compass Festival to explore local food and growing organisations such as Manjit’s Kitchen, Food Revival (formerly The Sharehouse), Fuel for School and Hyde Park Source. The ideas, conversations and digital explorations from this residency have hugely influenced ‘What’s Eating Reality’ and I hope the dialogue continues through this forum and beyond.

Technology is my palate, much like a painter paints. Digital tools allow me to explore the world we live in and to create artefacts that scrutinise my concerns. They enable me to communicate with a global audience and to produce art that invites interaction. For example, augmented reality (AR) allows you to overlay a digital layer on the real world immersing the audience in an experience, juxtapositioning content, and potentially altering their perception of the real-world environment.

Leeds is a hub for foodies and home to the largest digital festival in the north, so by bringing the Food Justice and Digital Arts Forum to Leeds International Festival it offers us the opportunity to both dialogue and empower audiences to bring change both in our city and towards affecting food justice globally.

Maya Chowdhry’s art practice has traversed Installation, theatre, radio, live art, and video, all of which influence her creative practice.

Take a look at the event here.