Insects snack ©:  Boris Roessler | dpa - Fotoreport
Insects snack ©: Boris Roessler | dpa - Fotoreport

The Anthropocene Kitchen: A laboratory connecting home and world

Research topic

The project explores the kitchen, a critical site of energy exchange in the epoch of the »Anthropocene«, which is considered a particular geological stratum determined by industrial society. The interdependence of living and architecture as well as city-countryside-world relationships are therefore of interest. Anthropocene research attempts to learn from the past, the present and future scenarios in a systematic and self-reflexive way (following the example of the German Advisory Council on Global Change (WBGU) 2011 Report). 

We link this approach with our exploration of the kitchen and the question of its specific interior design. In Germany, the kitchen has a great history (Frankfurter Kitchen, Bauhaus, Ulmer Hochschule). Here it is taken as a central laboratory of the interconnection of home and world. The different dimensions of living and eating, urban ecology and geobiology, and earth system and geological epoch will be investigated in relation to conventional modern models in an experimental kitchen laboratory, where sustainable and post-fossil perspectives on everyday life practices of alimentation, living and mobility will be developed.


Our aim is to explore the kitchen as one of the most energy- and resource-intensive sites and the ultimate destination of a global commodity chain and logistics system, and as a laboratory in which the Anthropocene takes shape in locally marked everyday practices. We will interrelate two levels of examination and measurement: that of cooking and eating, on the one hand, and that of balancing resources, energy, and material flows, on the other, since the sustainable Gestaltung of everyday life requires the representation of global functional chains of individual actions as well as the relocalisation of practices previously outsourced. In both fields, the modern approaches will be continued into the present in order to experimentally update and design culturally differing ways of life.


The base project’s work was divided into three investigative groups, each of which examines different levels of space-time. We have set different objectives and applied different methodologies to each of these levels of measurement, thus enabling a multi-layered exploration of the kitchen as a critical site of material and energy flows.

Securing the results 

Depending on their particular methodology, the investigative groups have selected different formats to secure the results and for publications. One of these is a scientific non-fiction comic that explores the use of resources and individual consumption, examining these across a spectrum of »global« levels.

In collaboration with (group »Kitchen«):


Book project »Eating Anthropocene. Curd Rice, Bienenstich and a Pinch of Phosphorus – Around the World in Ten Dishes« 

Editors: Reinhold Leinfelder, Alexandra Hamann, Jens Kirstein, Marc Schleunitz

The project »The Anthropocene Kitchen: A laboratory connecting home and world« examines the kitchen as a critical site of energy exchange in the epoch of the »Anthropocene«. The interdependences in city-countryside-world relationships are therefore of interest. Anthropocene research attempts to learn from the past, the present, and future scenarios in a systematic and self-reflexive way. In this context, we are producing an interdisciplinary, participatory non-fiction comic, which involves close collaboration between our researchers and »expert citizens« from ten different countries. Each country has a chapter devoted to it, and the artists who translate the ideas into graphic form also come from the respective countries. In this way, the project aims to be as authentic as possible and to identify and experiment with different visual languages.


Food or secure access to a healthy diet is, like the need for shelter, a basic human need. One of the greatest challenges we face is how to meet this fundamental need for a growing global population today and in the future. According to estimates, more than nine billion people will live on our planet by 2050 – 66% of them in urban environments – and they will want enough to eat.

In industrial nations today and in some cases in newly industrialised countries as well, society is characterised by an abundance of food. If current trends continue, plant production would need to double by 2050, meaning that it would have to increase even more rapidly than the global population.

Alimentation and food supply is an immensely important issue – politically, economically, culturally, sociologically, philosophically, ecologically and personally. In the kitchen we are in contact with the whole world, and it is the kitchen that connects the home to the world, both internally and externally. Our food behaviour is reflected in how we handle resources and has consequences that extend far beyond our own immediate surroundings since most of us are no longer aware of the connection between production and processing due to the growing availability of food products from all over the world. In the project »The Anthropocene Kitchen«, we are seeking to develop sustainable and post-fossil perspectives on everyday food practices.


Ten »expert citizens« from ten different countries provide insights into their current food situation as the protagonists in the non-fiction comic. Together with the results of our researchers’ work, these perspectives are embedded in a narrative by a media designer and translated into visual form by the artists. Drawing on the findings from the individual chapters and the symposium, potential future paths are identified and implemented in the final chapter of the book, produced collectively by all project members.

The team

The scientists:

Reinhold Leinfelder is a geologist, geobiologist and palaeontologist. His fields of research are coral reefs, the Anthropocene and knowledge communication. He was a founding director of Haus der Zukunft gGmbH (House of the Future), headquartered in Berlin, and has been a Chair at the Freie Universität Berlin since 2012. He is a Principal Investigator in the base project »The Anthropocene Kitchen: A laboratory connecting home and world« in the Excellence Cluster »Image Knowledge Gestaltung« at the Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin. Between 2012 and 2014, he initiated two exhibition projects and served on their management teams: »The Anthropocene Project« at the Haus der Kulturen der Welt and »The Anthropocene – Nature and Technology in the Age of Humans« project at the Deutsches Museum in Munich.

Jens Kirstein is a geologist and currently working on his PhD at Friedrich Schiller University in Jena. His research topic is the landscape evolution in the Saale River Valley over the last 800,000 years with regard to carbonate rock weathering and material transport. In the project »The Anthropocene Kitchen«, he researches historical, current and future geological and geobiological resource, energy and material flows in and around the kitchen. His focus is modelling and visualising systemic resource connections and their dynamics.

Marc Schleunitz is a biologist and political scientist. His interests lie in the correlations between humans’ use and the manifold transformations of the environment, their ecological consequences and the underlying economic processes. Marc Schleunitz works as a Research Associate in the project »The Anthropocene Kitchen«. His research work at the Interdisciplinary Laboratory focuses on the global food supply and the material flows and resource usage associated with it.

The Media Designer:

Alexandra Hamann is a media designer. She has directed an agency specialising educational media and science communication since 2001. She is an editor and author of non-fiction comic books, such as »Die große Transformation. Klima – kriegen wir die Kurve« (The Great Transformation. Climate – Can We Beat the Heat?) and the comic anthology »Anthropozän – 30 Meilensteine in ein neues Erdzeitalter« (Anthropocene – 30 Milestones in a New Age on Earth). As a freelancer working with the Cluster of Excellence, Alexandra Hamann is responsible for coordinating the production of the comic »Eating Anthropocene« and for the storyboard. She also selects the comic book artists from an international pool and acts as the interface between science, arts and the »expert citizens«.

The Artists:


Sylvain Mazas was born in 1980 in Chambéry in the French Alps.

He studied Illustration in Strasbourg at the École Supérieure des Arts Décoratifs before moving to Berlin for a semester at Weissensee School of Art (KHB) as an Erasmus student. He fell in love with the city and the art school, and decided to stay on and complete his degree in Visual Communication in Berlin. He has lived in the German capital since 2004.

In 2007, Sylvain spent three months in Beirut to work on his dissertation. This trip was the basis for his first book, titled »This Book Should Allow Me to Solve the Conflict in the Middle-East, to Get My Degree and to Find a Wife (Part 1)«.

He has freelanced since then, mainly as a graphic designer, illustrator and type designer. He spends a lot of time on various projects, including organising a sketching festival in Stralsund, designing digital books for the publishing house Mückenschwein, designing and developing Arabic typefaces such as LucasFonts, composing film music for an animated film for Cartoon Network and printing drypoints in his small studio in Berlin.

Uganda chapter: 

Joëlle Ebongue aka Elyon’s was born in Bafoussam, Cameroon. She studied at the Saint-Luc Liège École Supérieure des Arts in Belgium, where she received a degree in Modern Literature and Graphic Arts. Joëlle is the author of »The Diary of Ebene Duta«, her first comic book. It was financed with the help of a unique crowdfunding campaign in 40 countries. She is currently on a book-signing tour throughout Europe and working on the second volume of the diary.

Japan chapter: 

Maki Shimizu was born in 1981 in Tokyo, Japan. She studied Fine Art in Japan, majoring in printing techniques, before going on to complete a degree in Graphic Design at Bielefeld University of Applied Sciences. She has been working as an artist and illustrator in Berlin since 2006, and has been a lecturer at the BTK University of Art and Design in Berlin since 2013. Maki has shown her work in numerous international exhibitions and has published books of art, comics, essays, children’s books and a poetry collection. Her oeuvre includes »ADAGIO N°2 – Im dunkelsten Winter aller Zeiten« (In the Darkest Winter of All Times, 2014), the second part of the ADAGIO series that she began in 2011. In 2014 she published »YUKI – Portraits of Our Friends«, a book using woodcuts to examine the theme of portraiture.

China chapter: 

Ruohan Wang was born in Beijing, China. After completing her Bachelor’s degree in China in 2011, she studied Illustration at the Berlin University of the Arts and is currently pursuing a Master’s under the supervision of Professor Henning Wagenbreth. Parallel to her studies, she works as a freelance illustrator on different projects in China and Germany. Ruohan Wang likes to draw with pencils and ink or works with mixed techniques. She takes a close interest in new illustration techniques and modern aesthetics, but still places tremendous importance on fostering her own style and character.

USA chapter: 

Sophie Goldstein is a 2013 graduate of the Center for Cartoon Studies. In 2014 she won an Ignatz Award for her mini-comic, »House of Women, Part I«. Her first book »Darwin Carmichael Is Going to Hell«, co-written with Jenn Jordan, was self-published in 2013 with funding from Kickstarter. Her second book, »The Oven«, was released by AdHouse Books in April 2015. Sophie has also illustrated a children’s book, »Poopy Claws«, written by Gene Ambaum. Her work has appeared in various publications including »Best American Comics 2013«, »The Pitchfork Review«, »Maple Key Comics«, »Sleep of Reason«, »Symbolia«, »Trip 8« and »Irene 3«. She currently lives in Pittsburgh, PA. For more of her work, visit

Brazil chapter:

José Aguiar is a comic book artist, screenwriter and principal at the independent publishing house Quadrinhofilia. He studied Visual Art at the College of Arts of Paraná, Brazil. José has received the most prestigious awards in Brazilian comics (Troféu HQ Mix, Troféu Angelo Agostini) and won the Senac international comics competition in São Paulo. His book »Reisetagebuch – Uma viagem ilustrada pela Alemanha« (Travel diary – An Illustrated Journey through Germany) was nominated for the Jabuti Prize. His comics ( have been published in Brazil and Europe. In collaboration with Fernanda Baukat, he devised the series »Art and You« for art education in primary schools. His latest work, a web comic project called »A Infância do Brasil« (The Childhood of Brazil), can be downloaded free of charge in four languages (Portuguese, English, Spanish and French):

India chapter: 

Sarnath Banerjee is an artist and filmmaker widely known as India’s first graphic novelist. His semi-autobiographical graphic novels, »Corridor« (2004) and »The Barn Owl’s Wondrous Capers« (2007), layer history, mythology and popular culture with insights on contemporary urban life. »The Harappa Files«, published by Harper Collins in 2011, departs from the structure of the graphic novel and is described as a loose collection of graphic commentaries on India as a »fast capitalizing society suffering from bipolar disorder«. A recent project called »Gallery of Losers« of »sporting near-misses«, sponsored by the Frieze Foundation, was displayed on billboards in East London during the 2012 Olympics. Born in Calcutta, Sarnath studied Biochemistry at Delhi University and received an MA in Image and Communication from Goldsmiths College in London. His work has been part of numerous national and international exhibitions and festivals. Sarnath’s work is represented by Project 88 Gallery in Kolkata, where he has had several solo exhibitions from 2008 to 2012. His awards and fellowships include the MacArthur Indian Foundation for the Arts and the Charles Wallace Trust Award. He presently lives and works in Berlin.

Norway chapter: 

Martin Ernstsen is a Norwegian comic artist currently living in Oslo. He has a Master’s degree in Storytelling from Konstfack in Stockholm and a Bachelor’s in Illustration from the Kent Institute of Art and Design. He has published eight comic albums and books with the Norwegian publishing company Jippi Comics, the most recent of which is called »Du snakker med feil person« (2014). He also works as an author and illustrator of children’s books. His second children’s book, »Fillip flipper ut«, was published in autumn 2015 by Cappelen Damm publishers.

Morocco chapter: 

Zineb Benjelloun is an artist and illustrator from Morocco with a background in the visual arts and documentary film. She is inspired by the richness of the iconography in Moroccan urban landscapes. Zineb’s work seeks to explore and reaffirm Moroccan cultural identity, depicting expressions of its collective imagination. In addition to her exhibition work, Zineb illustrates children’s books, graphic novels and visual identities for local and international cultural events, as well as graphic design for public awareness campaigns.

Germany chapter: 

Ulrich Scheel, born in 1976, comes from Berlin and earned his degree in Communication Design at the Berlin Weissensee School of Art. He is best known for his graphic novel »Die sechs Schusse von Philadelphia« (The Six Shots of Philadelphia), which was published in 2008 in France by FLBLB and in Germany by Avant-Verlag, and went on to win the ICOM Prize for Best German-Language Graphic Novel. Ulrich Scheel has been working as a freelance illustrator and comic book artist since 2006. His clients include institutions such as the Goethe-Institut and the Heinrich Böll Foundation as well as book and newspaper publishers, advertising agencies and film production companies. For the past year he has been regularly drawing for the family programme run by the Prussian Palaces and Gardens Foundation in Berlin-Brandenburg. He also began working as a live graphic artist in 2011. Ulrich is heavily involved in the development of new and innovative theatre concepts in Germany and Switzerland.

Pacific islands chapter: 

Samuel Jaramillo is currently studying towards a Bachelor’s in Media Arts at the University of New South Wales. Throughout the course of his studies, he has worked in diverse media ranging from moving to non-moving images. Samuel was involved in the preproduction and storyboard stages of two documentaries and a short film, including work on illustrations and narrative structures. He then worked as a cameraman, arranged compositions and later edited the film. In the field of graphic design, Samuel is experienced in brand identity and research, and has a great passion for vectors and animal illustrations. He gains inspiration from literature, poetry, films and all the different cultures and people he has met across the globe. He is also very interested in analogue illustrations, something that he spends the majority of his free time working on.