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Cocina Abierta Collective: Help Wanted

July 9, 2014 - August 16, 2014

For their residency at LACE, Cocina Abierta Collective (Christina Sanchez Juarez, Cayetano Juarez, Mario Mesquita and Oakland Bautista) will develop a new iteration of their ongoing project, Cocina Abierta. Curated by Jacqueline Bell.

Cocina Abierta is a nomadic experimental “test kitchen” that facilitates the fluid exchange of immigrant histories, culinary skills, and base building strategies towards the development of a worker-centered philosophy to eating ethically. While a traditional test kitchen functions as a laboratory for the creation of new dishes, Cocina Abierta uses the act of communal cooking and teaching as a methodology through which they gather restaurant workers and consumers in a space of dialogue.

During their research-based residency at LACE, the collective will prototype designs and interventions for a mobile kitchen, using Hollywood as their testing grounds. This process will allow the collective to develop a series of events, such as private gatherings and public cooking demonstrations, that will be used to gather restaurant workers, consumers, and Hollywood passers-by in conversation around the question, “what is ethical dining?” These roving interventions will also serve as spaces to acknowledge the immigrant and people of color workforce that sustains the Los Angeles restaurant industry, while providing a platform for the collective to document and bear witness to the stories of restaurant workers in Hollywood.

The Cocina Abierta Collective will undertake these activities with support from the Restaurant Opportunities Center of Los Angeles (ROC-LA), a workers center serving restaurant workers, Thai CDC (Thai Community Development Center), which works to uplift low-income individuals in communities across the City of Los Angeles, and the Hollywood Farmer’s Market. The collective’s research in Hollywood will form the basis of an installation in LACE’s front gallery that will be on view from July 31 through August 16, 2014.

Read the curatorial essay on Help Wanted here. Download the PDF.

July 20, 2014 – HOLLYWOOD FARMER’S MARKET: Cocina Abierta hosts a Test Kitchen at the Hollywood Farmers Market from 8am-1pm.

July 31, 2014 – INSTALLATION ON VIEW: In conjunction with the closing reception of N (enter) S, 7pm-10pm, the Cocina Abierta Collective presents an installation at LACE’s storefront gallery. The installation is a culmination of the collective’s research in Hollywood. On view through August 16, 2014.

In addition to these events, the Cocina Abierta Collective will be hosting a Test Kitchen in collaboration with Thai CDC (Thai Community Development Center) that is open to residents of the Thai community at Palm Village Senior Housing. The collective will interview Palm Village seniors who have worked in the restaurant industry. Through food and conversation, the group will collectively explore concepts of home, migration and aging, and their importance in building a movement for ethical working conditions within the restaurant industry today.


ABOUT THE RESTAURANT OPPORTUNITY CENTER OF LOS ANGELES (ROC-LA): The Restaurant Opportunities Center of Los Angeles (ROC-LA) is a restaurant workers center that strives to improve working conditions for restaurant workers in LA county. The Los Angeles metro region has the largest restaurant industry in the nation making it an ideal place to apply our ROC model which involves ‘surrounding the industry’ – a tri-pronged approach to building power for restaurant workers. ROC simultaneously 1) conducts comprehensive research and policy work to raise consciousness and lift standards for workers in the industry; 2) organizes workers to demonstrate public consequences for employers who take the ‘low-road’ to profitability, by violating workers’ legal rights; and 3) promotes ‘high-road’ restaurant owners that pay and treat their workers well.

ABOUT THAI CDC (THAI COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT CENTER): The mission of Thai CDC is “to advance the social and economic well-being of low and moderate income individuals in the greater Los Angeles area through a broad and comprehensive community development strategy including human rights advocacy, affordable housing, access to healthcare, promotion of small businesses, neighborhood empowerment, and social enterprises.”

Cocina Abierta Collective is the work of an artist/community chef collaborative comprised of Christina Sanchez Juarez, Cayetano Juarez, Mario Mesquita, and Oakland Bautista. Cayetano Juarez hails from Oaxaca, Mexico and has spent fifteen years crafting delicious meals in a plethora of California restaurants. Christina Sanchez Juarez is a socially and politically engaged artist working in the public sphere on projects that address social justice for underserved communities. Mario Mesquita is an advocate, educator, organizer, and artist. His work explores social constructs of relationships between personal space, community sphere, and perception and representation of both. Oakland Bautista is an artist, musician, and activist who has spent the last eight years working in Los Angeles restaurants. In 2014, Christina Sanchez Juarez was awarded the inaugural SPArt Los Angeles prize, an award for artists who intend to create social change through art. The award supports the year-long operation of the Cocina Abierta project.

Jacqueline Bell is an independent writer and curator currently based in Banff, Alberta, where she is completing the Walter Phillips Gallery Curatorial Research Practicum at the Banff Centre. She is a member of the team producing Social Practices Art Network, an online platform for a variety of socially engaged art practices, and is a contributor to C Magazine, with forthcoming texts in X-TRA: Contemporary Art Quarterly, and PUBLIC. From 2011-2013, she contributed to a number of projects at LACE (Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions), including Jeanne van Heeswijk’s Public Faculty No. 8, Los Angeles: Canvassing Desires of the Street, and Nathalie Pozzi and Eric Zimmerman’s large scale game installation, Interference. She is a graduate of the M.A. Art and Curatorial Practices in the Public Sphere program at the University of Southern California.

SPArt, a funding initiative that supports Los Angeles-based Social Practice Art projects, has funded the ongoing work of the Cocina Abierta Collective. This project is made possible in part by a grant from the City of Los Angeles, Department of Cultural Affairs.


July 9, 2014
August 16, 2014


6522 Hollywood Boulevard

Los Angeles, CA 90028 United States
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