A 3 day performance where Gypsy (Roma) Women feed visitors while telling their life stories.
In the white space of the A38, a boat on the Danube river, there will be 10 separate installations. 10 units with a seat for one guest at a time. The installation is made of tables with extended legs covered with white cloth.
Participants take place in the installation and become separated by the rest of the space. They cannot look outside trough the textile.
Every participant will be served by one Roma woman. She will serve the food that she has personal memories of. She will feed the participant wet things with a spoon, dry things with her hands. Feeding is a very intimate ritual that is a rare thing happening in life. Especially when it’s done by a stranger. The whole performance will be a ritual; First the woman washes her hands. The visitor cannot see who serves him but he can see her hands. While doing this she starts telling him her life story. As if she would be speaking to a friend and gently like a mother to her child.
The visitor cannot see her face or see her eyes. This is essential. He needs to feel like there are no social codes or rules he needs to follow. She will show him the dishes that have memories for her. She will feed him with her dishes while talking about her life.
Inside the installation the participant sits in a peculiar environment. There is a small musical organ inside that he can play with, there is a big paper roll with napkins that he can use. There are many pieces of paper with written texts and pictures of family pinned on the inside. All written by the gypsy ladies. Ideas he can read about, recipes, dreams. There is a lightbulb hanging on the ceiling making a kind of children’s hiding place.
The ladies wear a scent on their wrist. This is the only scent they wear. It is a scent that has a personal meaning to them. and is one of the ingredients in the dishes that she serves. On top of the installation is a set of transparent balloons filled with helium plus the scent of the particular woman. the scented balloons will release their smell for about 9 hours.
(this is an idea by Bernardo Fleming of IFF) After the food is eaten and the meal is over the gypsy woman disappears. The visitors get out of the installation and they get one balloon from a helper. The balloon can be taken home as a memory of the experience.
When finishing the experience the participant will never know who he was fed by. The more abstract connection can be made; everybody has a story behind him or her.
Reactions to this project have been very emotional. Most people were touched in their heart. Some (approx. 5%) were disgusted. The debate of gypsy acceptance in Hungary as very actual and the feedback of many visitors was that finally this was a complete different and refreshing take on it. Going beyond the gypsy theme and bringing it to a higher level of life.