The Dinner Party – Part I & II

Performance Piece with T. Lenz

Tamara Lenz and I have taken our collaboration further by filming a performance piece. We had previously discussed what our next step would be on from the dinner plates and decided the strongest thing to do was a performance piece featuring ourselves. We drafted a script for our performance called ‘The Dinner Party’, which would have two parts, Part 1 would feature us aligning rice along the painted henna patterns on the plates and Part 2 would show the plates being smashed. Whilst planning the performance we decided that for Part 2, we would buy more plates which would be sharpied with the henna patterns, as when we spoke about breaking the original plates, I in particular, could not bare the thought of breaking hours of hard work and dedication. We decided to dress in black and have our hair tied back for the performance to remove any cultural connotations. We also planned to film with a grey back ground which seemed to work well against the white plates with black lines and the black clothing. Creating Part 1 of the performance we wanted to play on the very bourgeois idea of a dinner party brought about by western cultures, often thought of as exclusive for those with prestige. We decided on the idea of aligning the rice on the plates showing the concept of prestige vs labour and also removing the use of a dinner table to enforce that. Derrida says western culture likes to think in opposites and this is a flaw in western thinking. So by bringing women to the table, or rather the floor, by doing labour the dinner is no longer a social, nice thing that is considered prestige, it instead becomes labour. This brings out the neutral area between the polarities. Creating Part 2 of the film we wanted to show the plates breaking informing the idea of wasted labour and expressing the frustration of it and showing that the dinner table is no longer a housewife’s pride.   IMG_9594 To film our performance we were assisted by two second year (BA Hons) DFSA students, Abdulaziz Lamlum and Jacob Dixon. We had one camera on a tripod which was continuous through the performance and a couple of others which were hand held to get different angles. I found the filming of the performance to be very strange as being in front of the camera is not something I am used to. However it was an interesting experience, filming part 2 especially as we Lenz and I both had the opportunity to break the plates. Doing this definitely did let out the frustration we had over labour and time spent on the plates but it was also quite difficult to bring ourselves to break them. The main ideas we wanted to explore within this performance piece are, Foucault’s attachment to the object, Derrida’s polarity thinking of the western world, the idea of prestige vs. labour and the idea of cultural hybridity. I feel that our performance piece definitely addressed these concepts well. 

The Dinner Party, Part I

          TWO EUROPEAN-ASIAN WOMEN with black clothing walk in to a
          gray background.
          The TWO WOMEN sit cross-legged as they prepare the layout of
          the plates on the floor.
          ONE WOMAN pours rice in the middle of their workspace.
          TWO WOMEN then align rice along the design of the plate.
          This continues until each of the plates are finished. The
          TWO WOMEN have to finish at the same time.
          When both plates are finished, the TWO WOMEN move the
          finished plates off frame. 

The Dinner Party, Part II

Plates are being dropped (with the rice) and broken. Alternatively, plates are being dropped (without the rice) and broken

  With our exhibition in May in mind, Lenz and I have decided that we would like to present this piece projected onto the floor, next to the remains of the broken plates to come together as a whole piece of work.

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