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Look Who's Coming To Dinner

Look Who's Coming To Dinner explores the ways in which artworks and gallery-goers redefine the purpose of the gallery, morphing it into a mock dining venue.

The exhibition recontextualizes the venue with tables laden with sculpted foods, tableware, and handcrafted chairs for “seating” surrounded by walls lined with drawings and paintings mimicking the scene within. Bringing together the works of 21 national and international artists in dialogue of a playful dining scene. The artists included in this exhibition are Sarah French, Isadora Pompa, Lotte Kliros Walworth, Billy Frolov, Samantha Tate, Davis Arney, Jon Duff, Lucy Freedman, Calum Houck, Sarah Surprise, Emily Whynott, Teddy Benfield, Cecilia Emy, Lola Mae Dement Myers, David Allyn, Maxime Jean Lefebvre, Olive Diamond, Rebecca Ackermann, Eric Hibit, Nellie Konopka, and Reilly Blum.

Curated by Abbi Kenny and Luke Whittaker 

8 Jan – 28 Feb 2021

Exhibited at The Venue at Machines with Magnets, 400 Main St, Pawtucket, RI 02860

Click for ArtLand description with additional installation shots.

Guests enter the gallery into a lavish yet odd dining room–the walls decorated with scenes mimicking what is inside the space, tables laden with food. Though unlike in the images on the walls, the food will not be edible. This exhibition is a communal meal, but rather than actual food–the artwork will take its place. Within the context of the show, the “food” remains displayed and untouched while the guests of the gallery admire and converse–nibbling on short conversations of small talk and gossip. The gallery reshapes itself into a dining room. In this way, the gallery-goer becomes a diner.

This exhibition aims to emphasize the experience and culture of collective dining. In particular, we wish to focus on the importance of social encounters that have been suppressed by the pandemic. Though not directly dealing with the persisting effects of it, this show comes out of our current and lasting need for social connection found through dining. Our particular ambitions derive from the subsection “Dining Rituals” located in chapter “Manners of The Upper Body” of Edward Muir’s book, Ritual in Early Modern Europe:

The distinction between eating merely to consume food and dining as a form of sociability inhabits the very core of what we call culture... nothing is more revealing of the basic assumptions of a culture than dining customs. (134)

The exhibition’s purpose is not to focus on explicitly European dining traditions but to instead highlight the concept of dining culture and the social relationships of the diners. In this way, “...conversation is the real food, and the rituals of dining completely displace eating” (140). The individual, and their presence at the table, are just as important as the meal in front of them. In this same way, the viewer is as essential as the art in the gallery.

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