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  • Writer's pictureJacob Dutkiewicz

Unlikely Soup Kitchen Offers Free Meal for All

For the next 4 weeks anyone can stop by the SOUP SHOW, an art installation in Groningen’s Grand Theatre, for a free bowl of meatless soup. The SOUP SHOW offers more than a free meal as it attempts to invite a rethinking of our relationship to meat consumption.

Busy Night at the SOUP SHOW © soupshow.eu

The SOUPSHOW, similarly to a soup kitchen, offers a warm meal to anyone interested. However, according to Ed Vroegop and Matty Schoonveld, the art duo behind the project, it is first and foremost, an artistic experience.

“Artists do not have to create only beautiful, uplifting objects. They can also improve society by recontextualizing our ideas about the world with installations and performances,” says Vroegop. “This is a restaurant installation. When you enter as a visitor, you become a part of the performance,” Schoonveld adds.

While a soup kitchen might fall outside of an intuitive understanding of what art is, the authors’ idea was to create an experience that engages and challenges all senses. “The sight, the taste, the smell and the hearing. They all go together to make you think” says Schoonveld.

Matty, Ed and SOUP SHOW volunteers (right to left) © Jacob Dutkiewics

Vroegop and Schoonveld want the show to be a conversation starter. Those who come are invited to reflect on modern society. “We believe that our capitalistic society is running out of oxygen. Everyone is obsessed with work,” says Ed.

By providing an entirely plant based menu, the duo wants to provide an alternative to what they believe is a society that limits personal freedom in the name of market activities. Those behind the project believe that the way we treat animals influences the way humans treat each other.

In advocating for animal rights, they mean human rights as well. “When you say animal rights, we also have human rights included. Those are inseparable,” says Ed. “In a way, you could say that this whole installation is about exploitation; humans of animals and humans of humans” he adds.

The artists believe that the SOUPSHOW is a step towards treating all life with respect. Be it by building a sense of community or by limiting animal suffering. “A few years ago, you’d get laughed at if you proposed to give everyone a free bowl of soup. But very clearly this is possible, just look! We need help, volunteers, but it is possible,” Ed explains.

Some might consider the placement of a charity soup kitchen on the upper floor of city theatre as unorthodox. But even for the attendants who don’t give much thought to the artistic ambitions of the installation, the show is an opportunity to enjoy a meal and some company.

Lotte, one of the attendees, says “I saw the free soup banner, so I came in to see if it was real. It was, so I stayed, had some soup, chatted and left. I’m back today because the mood was great.”




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