Sunday, May 16, 2010

30 Days of Dinner Time, Day 15

In the window, Danielle, Kim and Vikki. Originally Kim and Vikki were planned to dine together in the normal format (two people in chairs at the table). A few hours before dinner Kim asked if their friend Danielle could come as well, and I happily agreed. This marks the first night for a non-traditional format. I had originally imagined some participants would want to engage with the floor as they defined dinner time but this is the first time it's happened.

For dinner they brought... everything. I sincerely believe they purchased at least one food item from every aisle in the grocery store. This includes but is not limited to rotisserie chicken, hummus, tapanade, flatbread, a veggie tray, vitamin water, iced tea.... It was a wonderful picnic on steroids.

Not only was the dining style a unique element to the night, there were many other elements that were out of the ordinary. Immediately following dinner, an Evanston artist was having a one-night-only performance inside the studio space of Art on Armitage. This meant the dinner conversation was being overheard from inside by any early arrivals to the space. Normally the inside space is isolated and quiet, acting as a vault for whatever is said. Mary Ellen (the gallery owner) mentioned the interesting scensory disconnect from inside the building to outside... from inside you can hear and smell the dinner but cannot see, from outside you can see but cannot hear or smell.

There was also a much more concentrated out-of-neighborhood viewership as people filtered in for the nighttime performance. This included other artists from Chicago and even, unexpectedly, a couple who's wedding I'm photographing this summer.

In addition to all this (yes there's more), a photographer from the Tribune was present. This was altogether a new kind of viewership for the piece, especially as the ladies in the window knew the source and purpose of our photographer friend. From 7pm til almost the very end of the evening a relentless amount of photos were taken by our friend. It's one thing to know a stranger is studying your behavior and a completely different thing to know that you are being watched intently through the eyes of a recording device which will be presenting your photo for the entire city to see.

Watching tonight, I felt not only the ladies' sense of obligation to the piece, but also their incredible image-awareness. This may have been the only way to turn the image of themselves as art back onto themselves as participants... for them to come as close as possible to phsychologically experiencing the image we see from the outside. In contrast to other nights where I have felt inside the window mentally while my body sat on the sidewalk, perhaps tonight the women in the space sat mentally outside looking in at themselves as images, as art objects.

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