Gaslight, Gatekeep, Girlboss; a very dramatic dinner party

On December the 4th and 11th – HIBERNATION, Bieb3000 and Under The Table – joined forces to organize a participatory dinner, which took place in the project space of Bieb3000. Ten people were invited to sit at the table, with the aim of reflecting on the complaints procedure of a large institute.

The dinner, consisting of four courses, was served by a waiter. On the table, covered with a white tablecloth, each participant was presented with a new menu for each course:

Starter: Indictment
Main Course: Defense
Dessert: Interrogation
Cold Coffee: Verdict

These menus functioned as a script, containing fragments of a complaint that had already been dealt with. This script was read together, alternating with the food, and navigates the guests through a multitude of emotions.

A Dinner Party – review written by Kleopatra Vorria

A slew of people, some connected and some not, gathering around a table with the promise of consumption. A dinner where each dish serves as part of a bigger story, introduced through the act of the group reading texts of correspondence, discussions, or of email exchanges, unfolding slowly as each meal goes out through the vocal cords and in through the esophagus.

My experience in the more passive role of the served was a lot more dramatic and visceral than that as a server. With each dish, the dissonance between expelling the texts through our mouths, followed by our task to consume something savory or sweet in return, was akin to torture for me. That which we were meant to read was a story of disappointment, of powerlessness and of isolation. The duality of this experience made me nauseous, to the point that during our final reading I was dizzy, disoriented, and ended up throwing up in my mouth. I think this has to do with my own personal experiences which heavily resonated in the text, but more than anything I think it was in the chaos underneath it all.
As you put yourself in the shoes of the people who instigate this story by filing a complaint against an institution, you grow more and more overwhelmed in the face of a system that is not meant to work with you, but against you, “you” in this case being not the customer or the student or the member of staff, but you the troublemaker, the killjoy, the thorn on the institution’s side, a characterization which happened against your knowledge or will. And in that moment, the food placed in front of you – this time “you” the dinner guest – stops being a source of power or of enjoyment and becomes a form of command. “EAT”. “Swallow”. “Take it all in”.