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2005-2006, Mixed media installation / Performance

One night, I attended a very awkward dinner with associates of my former classmate’s boss. It was a formal dinner with many forks and knives. In fear of having my manners tested, I forgot the sensation of my tongue. Afterward I could recall the look of the cutlery more than the taste of the meal. And even though it was an exciting opportunity to meet strangers who I would not have met, the awkwardness overpowered the excitement. Things did not roll well. Although they shared the same bottle of wine, the conversation at the table was so disjointed; one was interested in banking/power, another in international understandings/creative education. This dinner experience left me with a startling mixture of formal apprehension, and the sexiness of a first encounter.

The awkward encounter over food inspired me and I created a sculpture that invites interaction and performance. The sculpture consists of a found table with sculptural modifications and a two-sided fork. The table is cut in half and separated. Embedded in each side is a radio with headphones and a plate of spaghetti sunken into the tabletop.

Performances are a series of dining experiences between the artist and invited guests. The artist asks a stranger to dine with her.* The two stand at both ends of the table sculpture and eat and speak till they finish their meals. Viewers may notice the performance happening and come close to the performers to hear the disjointed conversation they are having.

*The artist gives three instructions to the diner:
1. Collaborate to finish eating the pasta.
2. Entertain each other by speaking continuously as you listen to the radio.
3. Do not speak when food is in your mouth.

Ultimately, whether formal or casual, we go to social situations with the hope of a good conversation. Even though we cannot hear each other.

[Photo: Yuka Yokoyama, Tsubasa Narita]
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