La Cantina de La Touriste

Bergen Assembly, Convened by Saâdane Afif and curated by Yasmine d’O.
08 September - 06 November 2022

La Cantina de La Touriste presents a vibrant, permanent installation which reimagines the interior environment of the local Kafé Mat & prat. Run by Ny sjanse (meaning “new chance”), Kafé Mat & prat is a qualification centre for immigrants in Bergen which teaches language skills while providing a framework for economic livelihood via training in management, service, and cooking. Located in Engen behandlingssenter (Engen handling centre), the canteen is visited by residents of the care apartments as well as the people of Bergen, who come to eat cuisine from the participants’ home countries.

The extensive redesign, created in close conversation with the Mat & prat's community, invigorates an existing project with meaningful social benefits, allowing visitors and participants to become, momentarily, tourists in their own city. With a bright, tiled wall mural, hand-painted furniture, and room dividers that recall somewhere south of Norway, Calero’s imagery reflects her interest in tropical aesthetics, as well as those of applied design, and determinations of the self-consciously “exotic.”

In Norwegian, the concept of “Syden” (the South) is used to denote a southern holiday destination where it is always sunny, with umbrellas, beaches, and swimming pools. This is an imaginary place that amalgamates any place to the south of Norway; Syden is therefore everywhere south, and yet, at the same time it is, in reality, nowhere. Such passive projections of place, loaded with generalisations, flatten all complexity and cultural specificity. Calero's Cantina attempts to turn this superficiality on its head, creating a lasting spatial gesture for social exchange and sustainable community relations by imbuing the formerly institutional space with a welcoming, colorful atmosphere.

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Photos by Thor Brødreskift, Nicolas Rösener and Bjørn Mortensen.