My first performative experience happened at my mother’s kitchen table as a child. She poured grape juice into two small glasses and opened a roll of Ritz crackers. She led communion: an intimate ritual where she restated the mantra of why we were eating the body and blood of Christ and the ramifications of belief. Sense-driven experience: the sound of juice trickling into my glass, my mother’s voice—smooth and soft, the scent of her robe mingling with grapes, the sweet tartness of purple, and the buttery salt wafer dissolving on my tongue.
The imprint of that memory affects my art practice through the use of food in performance. I invite viewers to be present with me as we perform a ritual together one-on-one. We are slowed into rhythms of breathing and waiting. I paint with olive oil and blackberries, wash my feet and hair with honey, meditate through milk-fat, and drain the “life-blood” of onions. The materials are thick with history—wine, milk, honey, and bread having ancient, cross-cultural, and sacred meanings. The food objects are ripe with symbolism and lovingly prepared for their future demise; destruction can happen as a result of the ritual.
As a performance artist, the questions I present are both theoretical and practical. What is the residue of intimacy? How does intimacy manifest itself through leftovers, images, or text? What might happen when a performer puts aside their own agenda and places the vulnerability of the viewers as more important than their own? Answering these questions requires more than just skimming from the surface—a bouillabaisse needs a rolling boil. The relationship between performers and audiences needs to be felt.