I want to tell you a story about my Thanksgiving.
I know. I know. Thanksgiving is long gone and Christmas is right around the corner, but I have to finish the story of the shipping container installation. My week of the installation fell on the Sunday after Thanksgiving and concluded the series in the shipping container. Even though the dinner wasn’t on Thanksgiving, I realized this year that the day you celebrate makes no difference. It is the gratitude and thankfulness you share with your friends, family, and strangers that is important; and that doesn’t need to be confined to one certain day.
This meal was another project in my thesis investigation of communal dining and rituals. This week, in order to keep the focus of the meal on the table, like in my other projects, we leveled the diagonal plane of hanging artifacts from week 5 to create a suspended “table” out of the salt blocks. The remaining whole salt blocks were placed along the sides for seats. In keeping with the traditional Thanksgiving meal structure, I designed the meal to be made up of one main protein and variety of sides that mixed together well. Together, each of these dishes was a different color in the color spectrum, creating a palette of food.
When the guests arrived on Sunday evening, flickering candles lined the container, and a line of candles lit the center of the table, making the entire installation come to life. Mason jars, forks, knives, and serving utensils hung from strings, designating each seat because there were no plates. For the meal, each dish was placed according to color in a confined area directly on the salt blocks. No plates and no serving platters meant that everyone had to pass food spoonfuls at a time to feed everyone.
Even though the diners didn’t participate in a group preparation of the food before the meal as many people traditionally do, everyone was still able to contribute to the nourishment of their neighbor by passing food. But the strings holding every salt block to the structure did not make passing an easy task!
As people called down the table for more pork or more beets, we all started to realize what we were really eating on. The food absorbed the salt so quickly that some bites were too salty to eat. We quickly understood that the higher the water content of the food, such as the meat and spaghetti squash, the saltier they got!