Robert Karimi's job as artist-in-residence at Intermedia Arts is in part to engage the public in fun-and-games as groundwork for his capstone art. He's the man behind The Cooking Show con Karimi y Comrades, a piece that he has been writing, performing, and touring nationally for 13-some years. His shows incorporate video, performance, and chit chat. Guests are invited to show up for tonight's potluck, Open Kitchen: What Fuels You, and become part of the process.
[jump] Your final project as artist-in-residence is a new production of your cooking show, called Diabetes of Democracy. Why did you choose that topic?
While I was working on another episode of the cooking show, we found out that my father had Type 2 Diabetes. He's Iranian; no one in our family ever had it, and everyone thought since I was American-born -- brought up on McDonald's and Taco Bell -- that I would be the one to get it. I didn't, but I wanted to see what was going on. So, I read up on studies from the Center for Disease Control, which pointed out the different at-risk communities: Asian American, Native American, Latino, African American, new immigrants, and a lot of other folks. One thing I think that would help them on their journey to healing is looking back at the stories and rituals of their past. I started to do this, and I noticed my father doing this as well. With this cooking show I am trying to find different ways of remixing it into a funny event where everyone feels good and empowered as we're cooking and eating together.
What's the job description of an artist-in-residence, and what do you think of that role?
I'm here at Intermedia -- as in sitting here -- right now. People can talk to me whenever I'm here. I'm always thinking about how to get people more engaged, so I'm constantly rebuilding my space to make it more engaging. The Open Kitchen event is also a way to have an exchange with people, where I share a piece about what's going on in my head with my final project as I'm working on it. We get to eat, talk about it, and dialogue.
One of the biggest things I believe about the food movement is that it has lost its sense of humor. I love making people laugh and I love cooking for people -- it's one of the best things you can do for someone. If in addition, they go down the road to eating healthier? Rockstar.
At your potluck event how much prep can folks do at Intermedia Arts?
We have a couple of burners and utensils at Intermedia, and if they bring their own bowls, we have a refrigerator here. If someone just got off work and goes, 'Crap, I am not going to have time to make anything' and wants to whip up a batch of something, they can come in and we can cook together. It's all fair game. I said, they could show up at 6 p.m., but maybe they can show up at 5:30 p.m. if they're really freaking out. I'll be cooking a very secret Persian dish that I never share with anyone -- I just don't. But I'm doing it for this because it's the food that energizes me. It's what fuels me and makes me excited.
IF YOU GO:
Open Kitchen: What Fuels You
Wednesday, July 27