In October 2022, Mariam Hava Aslam came to the end of a two-month residency period in Nigeria. She'd begun the experience at G.A.S. splitting her time between our Lagos building and the G.A.S. Farm House in Ikise. After four weeks she moved on to plan-b on Lagos Island, the creative hub and living experimental space devoted to exploring the intersections of art, design, agriculture and wellness founded by hFACTOR aka Bubu Ogisi, Hannah Osunsina, Osione Itegboje and Tushar Hathiramani.
During her stay at the G.A.S. Farm House she started to preserve food as a means of prolonging the life of the harvest she watched being grown and picked in the surrounding landscapes. Back in Lagos, she became interested in the ability to grow commonly used vegetables and herbs as a means to address food insecurity in the city. Pepper, tomatoes, bell pepper, oregano, and scent leaf were all things that could be grown easily in old tubs, wheels, up walls, and on rooftops.
Through dialogue and conversation, she started to learn more about the food situation in Lagos and in particular, the shortages during Covid where stores and markets were short of vegetables and warehouses were raided for basic supplies. She also considered the rising prices of basic foods such as tomatoes, the reliance on imports in Lagos, and the impact of flooding and seasonal changes on harvests and food quality for farmers in the North.
The research was realised through a collaborative project titled Apocalypse Pantry, a speculation where perishable crops are made into chutneys and pickles as one way of addressing the precarity of food insecurity. Displayed on an adapted Mai Ruwa cart that was designed and fabricated during her residency at plan-b, she suggests an urban network of food growing and distribution in Lagos. What if roadside gardens and existing parks were used for food growing? What if these carts distributed vegetables, products for growing, seeds and seedlings across the city? What if they were used for selling garden-to-table-style foods?
Apocalypse Pantry was initially presented during the opening celebration of Bloom & Play, a festival hosted by Sheila Chukwulozie and Tushar Hathiramaniat 16/16 in Lagos. For Mariam, it was just the start of an exploration into local alternatives in the face of a global period of uncertainty. While her research began within the realms of environmental action, public space and urban greening, this project invites you to journey with her experiences and reflections and to speculate together on possible futures.
Apocalypse Pantry, (2022) is a collaborative project between Mariam Hava Aslam, Tushar Hathiramani and hFACTOR