Tender Touches
17 May - 30 June 2019
AMP Gallery: AMP Gallery, 1 Acorn Parade, London SE15 2TZ

Co-curated by Inês Neto dos Santos and Huma Kabakci, organised by Open Space.

Artists: Bea Bonafini, Coco Crampton, Clementine Keith-Roach, Pixy Liao, Lindsey Mendick, Goia Mujalli & Cecillia Charlton, Inês Neto dos Santos, Marco Palmieri, Paloma Proudfoot, Magda Skupinska and Sofia Stevi

Tender Touches was an immersive exhibition taking shape as an art café where everything – from the food to the furniture – is an artwork. Dissolving boundaries between the gallery, studio and dining room, the exhibition uses food as a medium to question the dynamics of exhibition spaces.

Throughout the six-week duration of the show, Inês Neto dos Santos ran the café, cooking daily from a weekly-changing menu, which was drawn from her own practice as well as being inspired by the practices of the participating artists.

Visitors were invited to use their senses to experience artworks as functional objects, and to engage with food as they might view art. Experienced through vision, touch, sound and taste, the exhibition drew on the food-based practice of artist and co-curator Inês Neto dos Santos and the curatorial interests of founding director of Open Space and co-curator Huma Kabakcı.

Tender Touches combined exhibition with hospitality, blending and overlapping their respective narratives and inherent gestures. Rules of conduct are blurred: sipping a coffee, stirring porridge or pouring a drink become opportunities for conceptual thinking and aesthetics. The café format is presented as a model for creative practice and public engagement.

The menu, which changed weekly, was  devised and delivered by artist and co-curator Inês Neto dos Santos, present in the gallery daily. The food was created in dialogue with each of the participating artists, borrowing elements from their distinct practices and Inês’s own. Similar to the artworks, the menu existed as an integral part of the exhibition, merging and connecting each of its components. Food became a conduit through which we can engage with art and the creative process, proposed as a tool to help us understand the relationship between ourselves and our surroundings. Central to Ines Neto dos Santos’ work is a concern for sustainability. Wherever possible, ingredients were sourced from nearby producers through partnerships with local and independent businesses.

Tender Touches subverts the gallery space whilst existing as a fully functioning café. The exhibition raises questions such as: what are the limits of an artwork? Can hospitality be a model for creative practice? What role does food play in this context? Can it help us understand, question or defy our surroundings?

This exhibition was part of Open Space’s new, annually recurring exhibition series Edible Goods, which explores food as a medium in contemporary art.

Tender Touches  encompassed a series of tours, workshops and supper clubs, led by the participating artists, offering visitors the chance to interact with their work in engaging and unexpected ways.

Photos by Tania Dolvers, Liz Gorman, Lua Prtichard. Courtesy Open Space and the artists.

Tender Touches was turned into a physical publication of the same name, published in December 2020. You can purchase it here.