Pictures from beyond
Eliza Fernand has been living in Boise for three months, along with her art partner, Anna Weber, (their collaboration is called Wannamake, which you can check out <HERE>) conducting a residency in the Alaska Building, on Main street Boise. Once an office space, now used as artists’ studios, the space is huge and carpeted, now filled with sewing machines, scissors, snips, clips and threads. A small collection of wigs, and an extensive collection of hand sewn costumes (including a bacon body suit with accompanying egg suits.)
Eliza and I met at the Elsewhere artist collaborative last summer. She was a visiting artist, and I was a returning artist/staff member. We realized our similar artistic interests in art as social experiment, textiles and performance right off the bat, but had little opportunity to pursue any collaborative efforts amidst the fast paced schedule of Elsewhere’s summer schedule. We began communicating in long winded emails and skype conversations about a collaboration in Boise. Many thought were brought to the table about getting to know a place, and interacting in a thoughtful way amongst it’s residents. From sewing costumes to musical performances and hand made signs, we came to the decision that food was the best catalyst to evoke the sort of interactions we were both interested in investigating.
With the help of local mail artist Elijah, invitations were sent out to numerous Boise residents, most who were strangers to Eliza and I. We got almost twenty replies. Guests were asked to choose between one of three outfit options. This element of the project was in investigation of dress, and the categorization and subtleties in interaction that are effected by physical comportment and attire.
Eliza made up place-mats, to match guest’s outfits, a)All stripes, b)black white and gold, c)baby blue with red trim.
The evening began with herb infused cocktails, made from locally foraged herbs. We also foraged many greens including dandelion leaves, shepherds purse, plantain and chickweed and made up a big fresh foraged salad.
My worries of Potatoes being cliche or over eaten in Idaho were unfounded, and the Potato bar was a huge success. Toppings included:-Mushroom/white wine gravy -finely chopped tamari tofu bacon -fresh green onions -salsa -organic
-cheddar cheese For desert, rosemary infused frozen yogurt.
Over the course of the evening, all of the guests had their photos taken in-front of a green screen. Later we photo-shopped in different backgrounds, based on the guests’ “fantasy setting” that they shared with us.
Post dinner follow up included more mail packages to guest.
Printed out photos with fantasy backgrounds and special personalized Potato patches brought the project to completion.
Thank you to all of our amazing dinner guests for coming!
Next stop: Boise, Idaho. A place I would never have thought of a good reason to travel to. So I made up a reason and booked a ticket to Idaho. Alaska Air awards all of it’s passengers with a free beer or wine on domestic flights. Unfortunately, I was feeling too feverish for either of those options, so I ordered a ginger ale, and passed the comp. beer to Eliza in the window seat.
The flight was short and un-comfortable. By Eastern Oregon, my throat was swollen and raw. Touch down in Boise, fever and dizziness. Jokes about naked jungle animals were un-naturally hilarious. The back of my neck, was drenched in sweat. My body felt like it had been put into a trash compactor and then removed, several times.
I managed a courteous salutation to my mid-western hosts, and sank into deep delusional sleep. Eliza followed my lead and fell ill the next day. We felt our plans for energetic collaboration and ambitious production slipping out of reach, replaced by mugs of ginger tea and vitamin C. The nature of our collaboration took a turn onto the path of healing our broken bodies. Aparently too much Social Practice art can be devastating to one physical state. Over the next couple days we conducted an experiment in care and rest, ingesting strongly steeped tea, soups and other fluids…the sharing of remedies ensued.
A shared Recipe for wellness:Two cups of water, brought to a boil add: Two cloves of garlic (chopped finely)
thumb sized piece of ginger (chopped finely) couple pinches of cayenne juice of one voluptuous lemon honey, to taste whiskey or brandy, to taste, (optional)
Drink obsessively until well.
When we finally mustered up the energy to emerge, rain and snow had fallen generously, and a car show was in town.
Eight guests were invited to dinner at Rachelle’s apartment in the Bartleman Apartment Building. With their invitations each guest was given a small task/item to bring with them (edible cubes of approximately 1 cm square, nori cut into thin strips, something green and chopped etc…) No information as to the evenings events was divulged to guests prior to their arrival, except for their task and to dress “to impress while making a mess.”
Upon arrival at unit 21 of the Bartleman, each guest was given a role and a Badge to wear, indicating this role. These roles outlined the responsibilities and tasks to be enacted by each guest. Roles included: Roads and Transportation, Urban Structures , Rural Structures, Dwellings, Waterways, Topography, Tree and Bush, Agriculture, Tunnels and Bridges, Systems of Communication…
Ten trays of pre-prepared corn bread, in various hues, were arranged on the dining room table, mimicking a prairie landscape, as seen from above. After some time with wine and conversation, the remainder of the food was brought out, and guests went to work, constructing their versions of the Saskatchewan landscape, made from edible materials. Guests worked on their own deemed “areas of expertise” while also co-operating with others, to make a cohesive and unified whole. What emerged in discussion, over edible lanscape construction, tended towards the desire for accurate geographical representation of prairie surroundings. Although not necessarily to scale, the final product contained edible landmarks representing Regina, Saskatoon, the Qu’apelle Valley, Moose Jaw and the Trans Canada Highway (to name but a few.)
Once building was complete, we piled our plates high with the collaboratively crafted masterpiece, and chowed down the land, well slathered in mushroom gravy.
For desert, a vanilla and saskatoon berry grain elevator, with chocolate cream cheese butter cream icing…
Two days spent in the kitchen, cooking up a landscape worth eating. The menu was as follows:-Patch work Corn Bread base, in various varieties and colors: *plain *Sweet potato *Spinach *pesto *cocoa -Cubed Tofu, marinated in chillies and garlic, -Triangular Tofu in Turmeric, tamari and Beet. -Assorted Vegetable cubes (supplied by Barbara)
-Steamed kale with butter and lemon
-Mashed sweet potatos -Buttery mashed potatos (supplied by Hilary)
-Curried cinnamon lentils -Mushroom white wine gravy sides of: lime and pepper cucumber spears -bean sprouts -toasted sesame seeds -pumpkin seeds -thinly cut Nori (supplied by Janelle)