CONGEE is an ongoing project, started in 2022, in collaboration with F.A.T. Studio. CONGEE is a series of installations that transform art spaces into temporary canteens where I cook and serve Hong Kong style congee. Congee is a traditional savoury rice porridge that is widely eaten across Asia, however is difficult to find in the UK. The installation combines a number of elements, including performance, sculpture, painting, film and graphic design. CONGEE was first performed at SET Lewisham in November 2022 and again in February to March 2023 as part of a group show, Behold

CONGEE (2022)
“Through a temporary congee canteen, I wanted to transform the white cube art space into a comfortable environment for people in the local area and more generally in London to meet, eat. As an artist I wanted people to get a sense of my own journey as a British Born Hong Kong person, and hopefully find elements in the food, or the canteen setup that they can connect with. There are a few reasons why I wanted to cook congee: it is cheap and resourceful - and would be relatively easy to cook large quantities to serve people at relatively low cost at a time when everything feels so expensive. It is deeply personal to me and my cultural identity - it is something that connects me to Hong Kong - and I would eat it every time I went back to visit my grandparents who sadly passed away during last year. I hope that other members of Asian and diaspora communities in Lewisham would be able to connect with the project, as they might be familiar with or have heard of congee, which is a food that is relatively common in places like Hong Kong, but difficult to get here. Alongside the daily running of the canteen, CONGEE also played host to a programme of free events and opening up the canteen for others to use the space for their own events and workshops.”

Installation shots of CONGEE (2022-2023)

© Alastair Kwan 2022