Index


Active Cultures presents
Witch's Kitchen
Hosted by artist Shana Lutker
in conjunction with the Feminist Art Coalition


On View Now

Liz Glynn & Shana Lutker
In Conversation, December 4, 2020

Adriana Lara & Shana Lutker
In Conversation, October 30, 2020

The Witch's Kitchen Archive
A commissioned artist project, in which Shana shares and repurposes her research in a series of visual essays layering archival, found, and constructed images and texts
Part 1: V is for Kaleidoscope
Part 2: From Genius Inc. to Beggar Bar


Witch's Kitchen is a roving cabaret that will unfurl over the next year as a series of conversations, screenings, performances, and culinary experiences. Organized by artist Shana Lutker in conjunction with The Feminist Art Coalition, Witch's Kitchen expands on the generative intersection of performance, exile, and communal nourishment through the legacy of performer Valeska Gert (1892-1978), and will trace the thread of activist kitchens and exile performance in Los Angeles.

Witch's Kitchen borrows its name from Hexenküche, a post-World War II restaurant and cabaret run by Valeska Gert in Berlin. Gert was a kaleidoscopic creative force from the 1920s to the 1970s, and is the spirit guide for Witch's Kitchen. Her underground restaurants and bars in Berlin, New York, Provincetown, Zurich, and the Isle of Sylt, before, during, and after the war, provided safe haven to exiles and artists of all sorts. She was an innovative dancer and acclaimed performer in Weimar Berlin in the early 1920s. "By dancing like a holy terror," she wanted "to cross every border and violate every boundary in art." Her dance was described by one critic as the "pathos of protest." As a Jew, she was declared a degenerate artist and fled Berlin in the early 1930s. Gert was also an actor who, over a span of nearly 60 years, worked with directors ranging from Kurt Weill to Bertolt Brecht to Federico Fellini. In addition to her legacy in film and dance, she served as an inspiration for the punk movement and blurred the line between work and performance throughout her life.

Originally conceived as a series of public cabarets staged throughout Los Angeles, Witch's Kitchen will now unfold over a year in two parts. Launching in October 2020, Part One comprises a series of online conversations and performances hosted by Lutker. The Witch's Kitchen Archive will be published online as a series of visual poems: alongside, and mirroring Lutker's research process and practice, the series of photos and text will pay homage to the life and work of Valeska Gert and explore the history of underground and exile performance in Los Angeles. The accumulated archive and public programming will set the table and stage for Part Two. In late 2021, Lutker's Witch's Kitchen will manifest as a "cabaret," presenting new performance and and collaborative culinary experiments extending the promise of cultivating community through feminist resistance.



Witch's Kitchen is the first among Active Culture's signature Commission Programs, which support initiatives by artists to present public performances, workshops, conversations, meals, and special projects that highlight the intersection of artistic experimentation and foodways. Active Cultures is invested in working with artists over time and across program channels to develop their research, audience engagement, and ways of working not always possible within conventional exhibition frameworks.

Witch's Kitchen is made possible in part through the generous support of the Active Cultures Board of Directors; Founders Circle members Mehran and Laila Taslimi; and the Wilhelm Family Foundation.


Images: Wallpapers: Shana Lutker, V Figure Studies, 2020.
Footer images: Shana Lutker, Selections from Witch's Kitchen Archive, Part 1, 2020. Courtesy of the artist.

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Shana Lutker is a Los Angeles-based artist. Shaped by the archives of psychoanalysis and surrealism, her interdisciplinary work in sculpture, performance, writing, and installation foregrounds an unstable relationship between subjects, memory, and history. Recent exhibitions include Current LA:FOOD, the LA public art triennial; Virginia Woolf: an exhibition inspired by her writings at Tate St. Ives; and An Analphabet at Vielmetter Los Angeles. She was included in the Whitney Biennial in 2014 and Performa in 2013, and she has had solo exhibitions at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden and Perez Art Museum Miami.

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The Feminist Art Coalition (FAC) is a platform for art projects informed by feminisms*. FAC fosters collaborations between arts institutions that aim to make public their commitment to social justice and structural change. It seeks to generate cultural awareness of feminist thought, experience, and action.

Beginning Fall 2020, more than one hundred art museums and nonprofit institutions across the United States will present a series of concurrent events—including commissions, exhibitions, performances, talks, and symposia—over the course of one year. This strategic endeavor takes feminist thought and practice as its point of departure and considers art as a catalyst for discourse and civic engagement. Shana Lutker's Witch's Kitchen—and her homage to the radical work of Valeska Gert—is part of this initiative.