Remediating Mama Pina’s Cookbook

8:15 mins. | Three channel HD colour video with sound | 2015

9:16mins. | Four channel HD colour video with sound | 2017 /16
Presented at the Computer Art Congress in Paris in 2016


Remediating Mamá Pina’s Cookbook explores the family cookbook as an archival technology through which gender roles, social status, and cultural memories are passed on from generation to generation. It investigates how digital technologies are transforming and disrupting our conceptions of what constitutes an archive; the relation between the content and the form of the archive; and the tensions between performative forms and recorded forms of transferring knowledge, cultural memories and social identities—what Diana Taylor refers to as “the distinction between the archive and the repertoire” (Taylor, 2003, p. 19). This project is part of a larger body of work that explores the role of women as agents and producers of the archive and considers female reproductive labor, ephemeral and domestic forms of writing, and material culture —traditionally viewed as outside of the archive— as central foci of the archive.

The project includes a video that records my attempts to learn the different handwriting styles recorded in a family cookbook of food recipes and knitting instructions that belonged to my great-grandmother, Mamá Pina (b. Guadalajara, Mexico 1885–1976). The cookbook was passed on to my grandmother, Gabriela (1918–1997), and her twin sister, Teresa (1918–1990), who continued to handwrite recipes, and then it was passed on to my mother, Gabriela (b.1944), who continued the process. Each handwriting style recorded in the cookbook has a particular history that represents the educational background and social status of each of these women. The video, which acts as a register of my process of learning the three different handwriting styles recorded in the cookbook, remediates both the written source and the performance by producing a digital record.

A second part of the project consists of mapping and documenting the collaborations of friends and colleagues who were invited to respond to some of the recipes from the cookbook in the media of their choice. A selection of 25 recipes was sent to 40 people via e-mail without translation or transcription.


Project: Gabriela Aceves Sepúlveda
Camera, Edition and Sound: Gabriela Aceves Sepúlveda

Collaborations by: Mónica Martinez, Pablo Ignacio Aceves Iturbide, Gabriela Sepúlveda Campos, Alessandra Santos, Claudia Irvine-Little, Grupo Retazos (Laura D. Cisneros, Beatriz Álvarez, Nancy Espinoza, Laura Vass, and Karine Ng), Alejandra Bronfman, Rafael Santa Ana, Sara Shamash, Laura Madokoro and Tom Leung.