Interview: Maia Magoga

Maia Magoga (b.1994) is a London-born visual artist and cook of mixed Brazilian and Argentinian descent. Growing up, food was the primary love language in her home. She inherited a fondness for the potential of food to carve out loving spaces- spaces of care + nourishment that simultaneously feed a sense of belonging.

Her practice continues to foreground the boundless potential of food as metaphor to address conversations around ecology, the geo-political and ancestral ways of knowing.

She works with food as both subject and object. Her practice is currently oscillating in-between the realms of ecologies ~ knowledge(s) ~ and ritual. She has an MA from the RCA in Visual Communication where she was awarded the Gordon Peter Pickard research grant, and a BA in Social Anthropology from the University of Manchester. Maia also co-founded goby-fish collective in 2019. They host anti-capitalist concept dinners and create edible installations that centre dialogue, collaboration and knowledge exchange. They are part of Collective Ending, an artist-led gallery and studio space based in Deptford, South East London. She has been artist-in-residence at Omved Gardens since October 2020, an interdisciplinary space in-between art and ecology.

When did you start defining yourself as an artist?

Even though I’ve been making work for a while, I only started calling myself an artist in the last few years. It’s a term I’ve definitely struggled with, because I also think everyone is an artist in their own right and you certainly don’t need to be in the art world to be an ‘artist’. It was when I knew I was taking my art seriously that I felt like, okay..maybe you can call yourself this now. 

How would you define your practice?

My practice feels like a root with many offshoots but ultimately they are all connected and feeding off one another. It is very much research-led, and at its core is the notion of the landscape as an archive which I then interrogate from various socio-spiritual-ancestral frameworks. My main offshoots that I work with are food, language (often written, sometimes verbal) and image-making. And most recently I’ve been delving into sound which really excites me.

Do you consider your work ecofeminist, and if yes - why?

I have never referred to myself as an ecofeminist as such, but I do feel aligned with the principles of ecofeminism and the frameworks of thinking it provides.

Do you believe art and activism should be linked?

I personally feel an obligation to engage with our given political landscape, not merely because I am an artist but because I feel a duty to use what privilege I have to engage in discourses and initiatives that are feeding the world and contributing to its betterment, even in small ways. I do think that activism can take many different forms, and that our notion of activism should extend to healers, storytellers, care-givers and world-builders (ref: Social Change Eco-System by Deepa Iyer) – in this way, yes I do think that art and activism should be linked.

Can you tell us more about your next project?

I am working on two main projects at the moment- one is a community-engagement initiative where I am working alongside a local group in Greenwich to explore ideas of ‘home’ through the lens of local food histories- it is a borough with a rich history of migration and so we are making a series of flags with the aim of communicating new cultural messages. I am also working on an exciting commision for RTM radio, which will be a research-based soundpiece exploring notions of knowledge-production and land-based wisdom.