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Plant Dining

 

Four course dinner from a plant’s perspective.

For House of Words, an architectural, process based artwork by architect Santiago Cirugeda and artist Loulou Cherinet and a collaborative project between Public Art Agency Sweden and GIBCA, I collaborated with artists Louise Waite and Mathilda Frykberg on creating a four course dinner connecting human being and vegetal realm.

Ideas of growth, movement and time were explored through a ceremonial dinner setting planned from a plant’s perspective. In preparation for the experience, we went on a field trip to Brighton to spend time investigating the plant world, both in a forest and in urban areas.

The experience took place in the late evening, and at times the guests found themselves in complete darkness to increase their sensory awareness. The narrative of the experience followed the cycle of generation, emergence, decay and reemergence, each phase represented a course of the menu and included edible materials, light, sound, temperature and choreographed movements.

The food that was served included edible soil, ‘polluted’ water, decay soup and a dessert of abstract, artificial looking shapes. Lighting was used to change the environment of the room. The outside merged with the inside of the temporary structure of House of Words, as you could feel and hear the dramatic autumn weather through the thin walls. The sound of the wind fused with Louise Waite's soundscapes. Rather than being disruptive, this added to the mysterious ambiance we strived to create.

To enhance the experience and make the dinner less ‘human’, the diners had to stay silent for the whole meal, and eat with their hands. One example of how we used plants as inspiration source, is how the dinner was served in a very slow tempo. Because their tempo is so different from ours, and we can not actually see their movements, plants are often seen as inanimate. 

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The image series form a poetic exploration of what a still of a national dish might look like in a moment that nations seem to be fragmenting, and where we might no longer be able to grow the crops that characterise a nation's cuisine due to climate change.