Monday, October 18, 2010

What is Social Potluck?

Social Potluck is a philosophy more than anything else. It is the belief that the heart of culture, art and society is located at the dinner table. Social Potluck states that:

  • The dinner table (or family/communal eating venue) is the most important performance venue in the world.
  • All people rehearse and perform themselves at the dinner table, in particular by using the universal art form of storytelling.
  • These mealtime performances do more to reinforce identity and communities than any other influence.
  • Through the communal act of eating performances change from the "official" persona we present to the "unofficial" persona we are.
  • By sharing meals and sharing stories with strangers or people from another culture (called "others" in Cultural Studies) boundaries can be dissolved and understandings created.
  • While both food and stories have become commodities the rewards for sharing/trading/barting them is far greater socially than in capital.
  • Everyone has something to bring to the table.


Introduction - Why am I writing this blog?

This is a blog about attempting to create and implement an interactive performance piece/experience called Social Potluck. As of now the perceived obstacles involve my own limited abilities as a writer, performer and human being as well as societal expectations of performance and interaction, legalities surrounding the commodification of food, as well as the difficulties inherent in navigating the structural, legal and ethical maze that is academia.

I apologize for using words such as "commodification," "Inherent," and "structural" but this project is, besides being the kind of work I like, also my thesis project in my attempt to get my masters of fine arts in performance at the University of British Columbia (Okanagan) so I need to attempt to use these words comfortably, and without feeling like a heel.

The above sentence reminds me why I am creating this blog. Writing is not my preferred method of communication. I have been instructed to write down everything that is happening so I can use it in my final paper (more about that later). The problem is that as soon as I try to write in what I think sounds like plausible thesis language I A) get stuck in a semantic death spiral, B) find my sentences working against me, C) begin to doubt my relevance as a human being and/or D) stop caring about what I am attempting to do. The solution for me is to start this blog in an attempt to explain to you, whoever you are, with my regressive language skills, what I am trying to do with my Social Potluck project. This blog will hopefully become a forum to discuss the results, successes and defeats along the way without having to cloak everything in near impenetrable academic/art speak. I want people to do this project not quote me.

Ideally, if everything works out over the next year I will have a format for a project that is an interactive performance project, community building project, community arts project, community food project and just a heap-load of fun to be part of either as organizer or participant. Hallelujah! Amen.

I'm excited and I hope you will be as well. In fact, I hope you will love this idea so much that you will want to do it in your own home town, or neighbourhood, or block, or club or wherever you want. If that is the case you are welcome to take this idea and go with it. All I ask is that you link back to me and let me know how it went, what you changed, etc... If you want to pay me to do this project in your town, neighbourhood, block, club or etc… I'm OK with that as well.

So, that's great Gabe but what the hell is Social Potluck?