DINNER FOR ONE
“Dinner for One” is an art event in which the participant is spoon-fed a meal by a silent “feeder” in the intimate setting of a “feeding booth.” This event seeks to address issues surrounding control, trust and the somewhat more overbearing side of hospitality.
Upon arrival at the building you are greeted by the receptionist who is wearing a curtain dress identical to the tablecloth on her desk. She asks if you have a reservation (reprimanding you if you don’t) and then gives you a number and instructions to sit in the waiting room until you are called. In the waiting room, chairs are all lined facing the other side of the wall. On offer to read is “Forum,” an A5-sized magazine about human sexual relationships. You are not allowed to wander around the space. You are instructed to follow subtle rules, which resemble those experienced in institutional settings such as hospitals, schools and interviews. When called, you are hand-led to an adjacent room by an usher, who is also dressed in the fabric worn by the receptionist. This room houses four aligned “feeding booths,” 2 x 1.4 x 1.5m in dimensions each. They are all made of, and divided by, fabric, the outside of which is black and the inside a busy patterned design. Sitting inside each booth is a “feeder.” Three of them are dressed in the same fabric as their booth, and one (for the vegan guests) is a bearded, naked man. You are fed a meal, one on one, in silence by one of these feeders. This meal has been cooked earlier by myself: boeuf bourguignon with mashed potato, and pumpkin curry with rice as a vegan option. They are served in overwhelming portions.
Through its theatrical setting, “Dinner for One” tries to explore both one’s relationship to food, being vital yet emotionally charged, and the power balance between people within defined roles. The participant has to navigate between the role of being told what to do (subject) and being served (guest). A friend who went into the vegan booth later told me it felt like being fed by Charles Manson.