Wild Feast

Soap Factory, Minneapolis, MN, 2009.

Wild Feast is a site-specific food performance piece created for the Soap Factory through media including performance, original music, book arts, and interactive food gathering and eating.

In Wild Feast I speak to the nature, and the Nature, of the Soap Factory by creating edible, forageable plants unique to the Soap Factory’s inner ecology. The audience is guided through the adventure of collecting these plants, and then we all come together and feast on what we find.

By creating a fictitious set of wild foods that are unique to the Soap Factory I created an environment where the audience explored what constitutes “natural,” what we mean when we say “wild,” and a new way of thinking about the delights of understanding a place through the sustenance it provides. Within this fictitious world I offer the very real experience of the thrill of foraging for wild food, and the satisfaction of sharing a meal that is the product of that thrill, all led by a group of characters including The Naturalist, The Cook, and a chorus of five singing Fledglings.

As we in the U.S. come to understand more discretely the inherent meaning of renewable resources like clean water, fertile soil, wetlands, forests, etc., and how those resources come to bear on the availability of a healthful food supply, we are becoming more attuned to the wholeness of our food environments. However, there is still an often arbitrary distinction between Food and Not-Food that is not necessarily based on what is nourishing and what is harmful to eat. Many of these arbitrary distinctions are based on colonial strategies of exoticism and denial, the resulting loss of traditional knowledge, and misinformation from the commercial food industry in the form of advertising and in influence on public health policy. The false line between what is food (consumable product) and what isn’t (worthless weeds) keeps us from fully accessing the wholeness of our environments, and continues colonial cycles of unrealistically-compartmentalized destruction. Looking through these lenses keeps us from feeling rich in a world of copious bounty.

In this time of economic turmoil what could be more liberating than throwing off the old colonial/commercial lenses and reinventing what we think of as food—harvesting the beautiful, wild foods that surround us, ready to nourish us, body and soul, for free? When we seek out, pluck or dig, prepare and enjoy food outside the confines of commercial systems, we are committing radical acts of Living. When we gather food and bring it back to our commensal tables to share, we are committing radical acts of Loving. Now more than ever I think we need spaces where we can experience these defiantly hopeful, irrationally generous acts and open our definitions of what is necessary, possible, satisfying for survival. This is what I would like to make happen at Artery 24.