Dark Kitchen brings together works by Berkay Tuncay, Oliver Frank Chanarin, Pau Ardid, Sandra Gamarra, Sara Mackillop and Ted Hunt.

April 5th - June 2nd, 2024
A dark kitchen is a new business model. It is a restaurant that doesn’t welcome dine-ins, it is rather a food preparation spot that sells its meals exclusively through delivery. It follows the disembodied trend of how we grocery shop, order, date, chat, and share, underlining how our behaviours are being influenced by the digital economy. There is no physical signage advertising the existence of a dark kitchen on its façade, while the physical building disguises itself amongst the urban fabric, behind barred doors, the only storefront is its digital presence.   

Through the help of online food delivery companies such as Deliveroo in London this type of business seems to be thriving. Deliveroo even developed its own dark kitchen complex. From the company’s website: Deliveroo’s delivery-only kitchens concept, ‘Editions’, is an innovation we pioneered that helps restaurants expand to new areas at lower cost and with lower risk. We help restaurants to set up delivery-only kitchens in new areas without the upfront costs of a high-street premise. Deliveroo provides restaurants with data insights so that they know which cuisines will be popular in specific local areas - meaning restaurants grow faster and customers have wider choice

The choice of vocabulary in this blurb is quite revealing: “editions”, which comes from the publishing and art world, to soften the industrial scale, and “delivery-only kitchens” to replace the ominous dark adjective. While these companies are massaging the language, they are changing the city landscape, sociability and work conditions behind very closed doors and glossy, tempting images on the app with the promise of convenience.  

Dark Kitchen is the title of the first group show taking place at Under the Spell. To borrow this concept is significant because this recent trend is the newest windowless, opaque place created by capitalism. The basement you are about to enter to see the show could be a dark kitchen as its twin unit on the right (facing the street) is. You might even hear their app ringing throughout your visit and smell their French fries. 

Dark Kitchen speaks to our guts. One of the core words beating through the exhibition is FEED (the verb and the noun): a word that can be so vital, physically and intellectually, and at the same time so disposable by our bored fingers. The artworks assorted here reflect on the digestion time of images and messages, how the digital experience is streamlining and distorting every aspect of life. Where there was once a physical factory production line this has now formed into a behavioural line, shaping our daily actions.  

The exhibition considers the flattening of the imagination and reality. It aims to dive into the domestication of variety – recalling Deliveroo’s blurb, it is all about preconceived data input oiling up the capitalism machine. Dark Kitchen intends to decode aspects of capitalism through the repetition and accumulation of micro gestures and microtransactions. They may feel harmless and hold a touch of naivety from an individual perspective but can be disastrous when zoomed out. It is also a meditation about what a portrait is, its ethics, and what it reveals about who we are as individuals, as a collective and in which aspects we would rather keep our blinds shut.   


Orders 033 / 034 / 062 / 0503, 2024

Ted Hunt presents four McDonald’s receipts with empty orders (no cheese, no bun, no patty). It is a field research into a glitch within McDonald’s automated service checkpoints that allows any burger to be customised out of existence. It reflects algorithmic thinking, where ease of "User Experience" takes precedence over employment rights, social norms, or even submitting an order made up of nothing. A QR code links to a TikTok video made by the artist to highlight the glitch, which itself was subject to an immediate 'Shadow Ban' for breaching community guidelines, reflecting on how the custom algorithms impacts upon what we see and what we do.

Untitled (Louvre), 2015

Berkay Tuncay shows a video with a succession of tourists posing in front of the Louvre Museum’s pyramid holding its tip. The repetition of the same gesture resembles a line of production. It updates Charlie Chaplin’s Modern Times mechanical gesture, but now our factory is our feed and we don’t do this for money and necessity but for inherited behaviour and likes.     

Untitled 0009719197, 2022 
with Noel 0009726672, 2022

Oliver Frank Chanarin’s photo belongs to a body of work titled “A Perfect Sentence”, a survey of life in Britain at present. Twelve domesticated potatoes sit by a window, aligned by size. They were picked by seasonal migrants that refused to have their portrait taken. This work holds a secret –there is another image behind it, ask someone in the gallery to show you.  

When potatoes burn, 2021

Sandra Gamarra paints some of the 4.000 species of wild varieties of Peruvian potatoes on top of illustrations on the pages of “The First New Chronicle” and “Good Government” (1615). This encyclopaedia made by the indigenous Peruvian Felipe Guamán Poma de Ayala criticises the colonisation process in South America, revealing the dissatisfaction with the imposed dynamics brought by Spain. 

Blind Book, 2024

Sara Mackillop makes a sculpture out of her sliced artist books. The paper cuts are sewn together and mounted on a frame acting out as a blind. There is nothing to see through or read. It is a dead end, a contradiction. The function has vanished, but yet another form arises from it —an autonomous blind book, an abstraction that comments on what’s made public or not.  

Convenience, 2018  
Turquoise study, 2024

Pau Ardid shows the flip side of the digital economy’s convenience. Contrasting with the indoor warmth and comfort that we cannot see, a Deliveroo rider stoically waits in a snowy London street. He also presents a diagrammatic study of turquoise –a colour that inspires well-being, freshness and wealth– that seems to encapsulate a zeitgeist. Ardid documents and examines the growing presence of this colour in his everyday life, which renders all our social conflicts and desires into something we can all agree on (consumerism), no matter how calculated, contradictory and artificial this may be. 
art space beneath Moonstruck Cafe
153 South Lambeth Road

Monday - Sunday
8am - 4pm