May 18, 2009

Project Description:

Performance art allows me to communicate most accurately with an audience. When I work the concept comes first, images and visual components come later in the process. The logistics of my performances are site-specific and determined by the environment in which I plan the pieces. A large body of my work is performed outdoors in public venues, such as street markets and empty lots. My performances are ceremonial in structure. My works, although personal, embody representations of common human concerns. The pieces are structurally simple, without heavy reliance upon props or costumes. My pieces thus far have been completely interactive, in an effort to dissolve the line between artist and audience. When I perform, the piece is only complete and successful when audience members participate. My objective is for participants to go away with a story, a memory and an experience.

With the Here and Now grant I intend to create a public art performance that will be in the form of a carefully orchestrated community meal that encourages education and shared resources surrounding the topics of local and urban food production. This performance will be interactive and will feed participants. All participants are producers of the meal. I plan to orchestrate the use of community members’ kitchens, farms, garden facilities, animals, and the Urbana Market at the Square. Participants may include local cooks/chefs, food growers/producers, general public, city government partners (including grant supporters if interested), the inhabitants of the participating farms (including the non-human animals), local food educators, artists, musicians and myself. Artists and musicians will create an installation table setting that will include sculptures, sound pieces and music.

I’m interested in focusing primarily on three concepts: 1. Community relationships and cooperation, 2. art as a mode of communication and 3. how we provide our food. My artistic and scholarly methods allow for participant input and flexibility in the final performance outcome. Other participants may suggest and produce additional elements not considered here yet.

Process-oriented, new-genre, community-based food performances began in the 1970s and resurged in the 1990s. I think this mode of making performances best communicates my concepts. Not only is the work time-based, live, and interactive, it can also be perceived as socio-political.

We all have the basic need to feed ourselves. In this time of air shipment, limited fuels, rising costs, depleted resources, and desire for convenient food, it's important to investigate the impact we have politically and environmentally when we make decisions regarding where we obtain our food. Learning, producing and sharing our food within a community is an important step towards returning to sustainable food-sourcing methods.

This event in Urbana will serve as the prototype for expanded versions. Ideally this project will turn into a long-range project that takes place over the duration of one year, in one or several different locations. In that length of time, the ingredients (edible plants and farm animals), and menu can be planned in advance according to the seasonal demands of the location. Because of the short duration of the “Here and Now Grant” and because this is the first event of this kind that I am coordinating, I plan to use this event as a “test run” for future meals. I welcome this unique opportunity for participants to give feedback, critiques and suggestions while I am still in the planning stages for the larger, expanded version of this project.

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