“When you say ‘potato’ the response is often an
autobiography; potatoes provide a way for us to
speak about ourselves

Earle, Rebecca. 2019.
Potato. Bloomsbury Academic

What can a potato tell us about ourselves? What does it say about the construction of national identity? What role can new narratives around it play in how a society imagines itself and other worlds? How can translocal stories and food cultures be connected as an inroad to address forgotten colonial legacies and the wider context of political, social, and emotional relationships?These are some of the questions that lead to the harvesting of stories around the potato that forms Cooking Potato Stories.

This work has its roots in the tension between personal and social identity and the historical and cultural influences on its formation. Using the role of the potato as a conductive narrative, I question the power structures behind the construction of identity, based on my own experience moving between Latin America and Europe. It is a transatlantic recipe that mixes the "here" and "there", which includes different ingredients such as heritage, history, imaginary, tradition and autobiography to reflect on how a society imagines itself and other worlds based in the stories they tell each other.

We all make sense of our lives through a combination of narratives, a blurred system of ideas that inspires reactions, determines values, judgments, opinions and behaviors. Today a region does not necessarily have to be a space defined politically or geographically, but a specific space for common stories and experiences, a state of mind rather than a place on the map. Therefore, finding our place means finding our place in a story and where the plot of these photographs intersect is where my place is located. I propose an encounter of narratives around the potato that grows an alternative story that questions the ideologies, power and subjectivities behind the narratives. I develop recipes of knowledge that unfold different aspects of the potato's history to push a new social memory about it. Cooking Potato Stories drives us in the complex process of how we construct, understand and make sense of ourselves individually and as a collective.

︎Listen to the collection of Potato Stories
︎Cooking Potato Stories Newspapers
︎ PDF version of Cooking Potato Stories Thesis
(epub on request)

The project has been shown at:

· FOAM, Photographiemusem Amsterdam, The Netherlands
· Festival Circulations. París, France
· Photo Ireland. Dublin, Irland
· Getxophoto. Getxo, Spain
· WE ARE AIA. Zurich, Switerzland
· Food Culture Days. Vevey, Switerzland
· Biennale für aktuelle Fotografie, Germany
· Photaumnales. France
·Friction Atlas. KABK, The Netherlands

FOAM 3H. Fotografiemuseum Amsterdam.
Cooking Potato Stories.  April-July 2022

Curator: Hinde Haest.  FOAM, Fotografiemuseum Amsterdam.                                        
© Christian Van der Kooy

Foam 3h
Ana Núñez Rodríguez – Cooking Potato Stories
8 April – 10 July 2022

What can a potato tell us about ourselves? Tracing the trajectory of the potato across the world, Ana Núñez Rodríguez asked herself this question. The potato is cultivated almost everywhere, and globally cherished as an important part of local food cultures. Núñez Rodríguez set out on a quest to unearth local ‘potato stories’ across the world, including her own childhood memories and her migratory trajectory between Spain, the Netherlands and Colombia. The resulting harvest of verbal and visual anecdotes, recipes, myths and memories surrounding the potato forms a mosaic of how the humble crop universally inspires cultural and individual identities.  

The artist’s family history is fundamentally intertwined with that of the potato: the crop was first domesticated in South America and was brought to Europe by the Spanish conquistadores in the 16th century. Through a process of cultivation and modification, it continued to spark unprecedented population growth in Europe and beyond, and radically transformed local cuisines. From fries to aloo, tortilla, gnocci, or ‘stamppot’, the tuber has since been widely adopted as a national or local food in countries across the world.

However intertwined our societies and economies are with the potato, none can truly call them native. The story of the potato began long before the concept of nation-states existed, and the trajectory of the potato from the Andes into our kitchens was marked by many obstacles. It took centuries for the crop to take root in the cold European soil, and was initially valued for its decorative flower. The work of Núñez Rodríguez shows us that the story of the potato is one of continuous metamorphosis and adjustment to its local surroundings; a feeling that the artist (and many with her) can identify with.

By collecting stories small and large, personal and historical, factual and fictional, Ana Núñez Rodríguez investigates how “[t]he potato packs a universe of symbolic information on identity, domination and social differentiation.” The many stories told in this exhibition present the humble potato as the product and cause of violence, famine and migration across the world. Yet they also talk about survival, sharing, belonging and family. The continuous transformation and adaptation of the potato becomes a metaphor for human resilience, and for how our identities are rooted in the stories we tell each other.

Curator Hinde Haest

Podcast on the occassion of Earth Day.                                                                         This Potato game is part of Cooking Potato Stories exhibition at Foam Fotografiemuseum.
Talk with Foam curator Amelie Schüle                                                                           Concept & Production: Valeria Posada Villada, Winke Wiegersma & Ana Núñez Rodríguez
and artist Isadora Romero                                                                                                 Design & Development: Clara Pasteau
Listen it HERE                                                                                                                                  Play it HERE 

Intervention in the Food Market of Vevey, Switzerland.

Cooking Potato Stories on “Critical Recipes”

TALENT PROGRAMFOTODOK, Utrecht. The Netherlands

︎︎︎Digital Platform
                                                                                                                                                   ︎︎︎ Podcast Cooking Potato Stories


Royal Academy of Arts The Hague. The Netherlands. 2020

︎Photography and Society Digital Platform

  ︎KABK Graduation Show 2020