A PAINTING FOR A FAMILY DINNER
A Painting For A Family Dinner is a broad socially engaged artistic initiative, developed in different cultural contexts and continents. It started in Bat-Yam, Israel 2008. It was continued in the Bronx, New York, US 2012, Beijing, China 2013 and Lecce, Italy 2013.
For A Painting For A Family Dinner project, we placed a call for participation in the media and via social networking sites to local residents:
"Husband and wife artist team are offering a painting in exchange for an invitation to a family dinner. Please, email or call for more info..."
When families responded to the call for participation, we visited as many homes as we could. Participation was based on a first-come first-served basis. There were no guidelines for our interactions, and we were open to any discussions that occurred. We created a painting for each occasion in advance. Each painting was a still life with fruits and "Thank You for Your Dinner!" written in the middle. At the end of each dinner, all participants were seated on a family couch, with the painting hung above the couch, for a family portrait--to be taken by a local photographer. The painting stayed with the family.
The project is not about a painting or a dinner, but about the displacement of the familial/familiar by virtue of artistic initiative. The project was embedded in the real life of the community, and depended on the participation of local residents. The process was inclusive and welcoming for everyone in the neighborhood(s) and community(s). The artists and the families were equal and active co-creators of the project. Many members of the local cultural scene were involved in the research, creation, production and dissemination of the project in its different stages.
Altogether, we had dinners with 39 families and here is our journey.
A Painting For A Family Dinner eliminates the artificial separation between art and life in the place of the familial/familiar. A platform for exchange and conversation is provided, overcoming the distance that normally exists between artist(s) and audience--by establishing an opportunity for engagement with enriched and expanded forms of sociality (inter- and intra-cultural). The project embodies artistic practice as a form of civic engagement and social intervention. The project's main objective is to enable cultural and social transformation by integrating art as a reflective practice, an exchange and a communicative experience within the everyday setting of family life.
This artistic intervention engages all participants in expanding the value and the meaning of social interaction -- as what engulfs the familial/familiar place of sharing time and food. The foundation of the project is the creation of a place or a moment where the public and the private spheres overlap and reformulate; art in the private space reshaping the public sphere itself. The other elements of the concept areopenness and thankfulness; openness is about welcoming the possibilities of communication with a stranger; and thankfulness is the acknowledgement of debt and the values inherent to the potlatch, a gift-giving economic system practiced by indigenous people of the Pacific Northwest.
The long term objectives are to expand the sphere of social experience of all those involved, by injecting extra-/intra-social/cultural/economic dimensions into the familial/familiar space; and to make the arts more meaningful in the realities of individual's lives in different societies and countries, by effectuating art as a transformative experience of co-active being and co-active thinking.
Partner organizations are Ammirato Culture House (ACH), Lecce, Italy; Inside-Out Art Museum (IOAM) Artist Residency Programme, Beijing, China; No Longer Empty, New York, US; The Bronx Museum of the Arts, New York, US; MoBY, the Bat Yam Museum for Contemporary Art, Israel. Photography by Alessia Rollo (Lecce), Du Yang (Beijing), Anton Trofymov (Bronx), Dafna Gazit (Bat Yam).
A Painting For A Family Dinner, 2008-2014, Series of 39 photographs, documentation, C-print, 24 x 24 inches each, Edition of 3