In the Counter Kitchen (TCK), Brooke Singer and Stefani Bardin are turning things upside-down from the inside-out. Science and marketing have made product labels nearly impossible to decode and, in response, we are developing tools, measurement systems and recipes to reverse engineer (think: deconstruct and remake…) your favorite food and personal care products. In TCK, become a translator, detective, chemist and cook. Stop by to take a whiff, stay a while to help out in the kitchen or suggest a product for future explorations.

We are interested in investigating a broad range of commercial products that we are putting into/on our bodies and into the environment in abundance. Our focus is on the stuff we are getting intimate with — maybe even on a daily basis. But the familiarity we feel is often entirely unfounded. Just try reading the ingredients on any product in your medicine cabinet or cupboard to see what we are talking about.

Brooke entered this conversation through her work on Superfund sites, or the worst toxic contamination sites in the US. If people do not live directly on top of a Superfund site (as some in fact do) then they can feel detached from the issue. Brooke wondered if she could find a connection between some of the signature Superfund contaminates and chemicals inside the house. She started with the medicine cabinet and was surprised by what she discovered.

Stefani started engaging this dialogue through her interest in gastronomy (and eating!) as well investigating the provenance of her food. This led to a decade long study of our food systems and uncovering how problematic, out of control and damaging they are to us as well as our surroundings. Through her practice, she continues down the rabbit hole of learning exactly what’s in our food and why.

Brooke is a fellow and Stefani an artist-in-resident at Eyebeam Art + Technology Center where this project initiated.

Special thanks to our fabulous interns: Jenna Kline, Jeanna Hamilton, Madeleine Aronson and Zoe Baker.