F.E.A.S.T.

F.E.A.S.T (Food Entertaining as Specious Theatre)

Connoting the Last Supper and tangentially reminding me of Judy Chicago’s Dinner Party, F.E.A.S.T, curated by Rebecca Nagle and brought into production by the collaborative effort of 40+ artists, was an adventurous feat into theatre, food, and the delights of subversive & playful dream reality. Hosted as the centerpiece of this year’s Transmodern Festival in the black top lot behind the Current Gallery where participants could enjoy the open night and sit at white plywood tables joined as one massive, branching table, seating 80 participants, we were connected together and to the stage. We too were invited to be the art.

As day turned twilight, the multimedia smörgåsbord of F.E.A.S.T began with “Small Foods,” as servers sauntered with glittered honeycomb headdresses, silver sci-fi embellishments evoking a play land where free form and femininity rule, where gender is celebrated and fluid.

Victor F. Dem Torres wandered the lot like a mirage from Burning Man risen from the desert gleaming silver in body paint before ascending the stage. Donning his ceremonial headpiece and bearing coconut-meteorite-like, udders of wine, he was the “Breasted Cocktail” offering himself as foamy sacrament!

While the risqué and empowered “Pleasure Club’s Spring Salad” began as a skit with Theresa Columbus, Joy Davis, Gina Denton, Siyade Gemechisa, and Alexa Richardson who pondered over what a pleasure club really means, before they tossed our salad with dressing dripping on stage, and our servers walked the catwalk connection of tables to throw down a gloved fist of greens that landed unceremoniously, yet perfectly, on our plates.

Before we could finish the deliciousness of our greens, it was then “At One with the Spear: Genesis,” as the asparagus Shaman summoned the phallic stalks to “burst fresh from the loamy crust” like a pagan Princess Bride priest.  And, verdant, naked heads poked their way through the imagined soil of the trap door stage. Slowly rising before the viewers’ eyes, we see that they’re the harvest headdresses of servers beneath the floor who bear them as an offering for our meal.

The creamy rice asparagus dish served this time now by bowl and not by fist is Woodberry Kitchen goodness. Getting up to leave the table, I return to find that a server has poured broth into my rice; it’s all art and performance doesn’t obey limits.

You might imagine that “Desert Aerobics” would turn into a food fight as our waitresses stood atop the table and mine asked for chunks of cake, so she could make a potshot into the mouth of the jump roper, frantically skipping on stage.

Cut then to “Milk,” an en(gross)ing video performance where a masochist woman holds a man prisoner in her obsession with the purity of white and pristine, virtue of milk. Imagine the vanilla soy sitting in a long neck glass in front of your plate transmogrify with a seeping, secret dollop into forbidden chocolate milk delight.

Transmorphing again, it was then “entrapMINT,” a LifeSaver mint and a video performance starring remixed Sean Connery and Cricket Arrison. As we watched Connery’s wise advise to Cricket, as she navigated minefield strings of candy, working back flips and death defying maneuvers to find her way, with the aid of Connery’s mentoring, to the safety and delivery of the last tiny bobble breath mint.

Winding down to “Digestif,” a tiny paper cup of “soul cleansing beverage” that tastes like a vague trace of tea with a slip of translucent imprinted paper dropped in by my server to perhaps remind us that the figurative dose of LSD had already begun as our figment much earlier in the night and that art itself is an expansion of consciousness.

Ending the night, we made lines to wash our dishes. We were participants in the performance and now time to roll up our sleeves and clean.

 

Additional Photos by Philip Laubner:







Robin Gunkel

Robin is a writer and performer who works with the University of Baltimore.

Philip Laubner

Philip is a writer and portrait photographer based in Baltimore.