View of the exhibition Family Matters, Villa Empain – Fondation Boghossian, Bruxelles (Belgique) – 2019
The family meal is a gathering act inviting around the table very different individuals. Here the guests are eating in silence. Attention is then paid to the sharing of food, the act of eating and the different rites that these situations engender.
Video – 38 min – Loop – 2018
HD- 16/9 – Stereo
In my family, the meal is first of all an act of demonstration of who will speak the loudest. The glasses are never empty, the plates move from hand to hand, meals last for hours and sometimes even all day long, which pushes us to have another go in the evening. Everything is profusion: it is not about counting the calories, but to enjoy each other. And where communication is usually difficult, food serves as a bridge. It becomes a reason to share and an excuse to communicate. Feeding empty stomachs as well as family ties.
While it is often pushed to the second place, food is indeed the essence of this type of gathering. The man lays the table, cultivates the food and sublimes it. The meal reveals, around the food, how the culture takes on the initiative of culinary inventiveness, where nature imposed a necessity. The food is cultural, linguistic, historical and sociological.
By proposing to the guests to share a family meal in silence, I focus their attention on food and the act of eating, rather than what can distract them during their lunch. Banning superfluous conversations leads to a performance centered on the ritualized dimension of the meal, as a small family theatre. Between staging and performance restitution, the film then reveals all the steps and traditions that this kind of gathering brings.
First, the eye, requested by the construction of the food on the table; the hearing, awakened by the sounds suggesting metamorphosed materials; The smell, stimulated by the aroma concentrates prophesying many universes; The taste, finally, which, in a papillary saturation, signals a world making its entrance. I become for a moment what I taste. As for the touch, it has the restraint that the culinary instrumentation implies, sometimes summoned in the sensuality of “with bare hands”. So many gestures evocative of the ritual linked to the food and the food-gathering.
The only elements of sound, which are the ringing of cutlery and the chewing noises, also push us to focus on the motions, gestures and individualities surrounding the table. They also put forward another way of communicate, passing through the consumption of prepared meals.