by Kristyna and Marek Milde
Participants: Michaela Boruta, Vita Chase, Slavka Petrova, Marek Soltis, Filip Trcka, Nicole and Jan Zahour
Rooftop of the Bohemian National Hall
321E 73rd Street, NYC, NY
May – October 2013
“If we are what we eat, who are we if we don’t know the origin and the context of the production of our food? “
Dinner Garden is an experimental, participatory and edible project, which took place on the rooftop of the Bohemian National Hall in the growing season of 2013. It explores nourishment and engages awareness for the ways and methods of growing, cooking and sharing food. The project explores the social importance and rituals inherently embodied in the community and culture, in which identity and relationships to the environment are established.
The artists Kristyna and Marek Milde invited a group of 7 people associated with the Bohemian National Hall to experience the process of growing just enough food for a single dish. Each of the participants chooses a favorite dish, for which they grow the necessary ingredients. The particular plants and vegetables for each specific dish are planted in a single garden bed similar to a size of a dining table. As the plants grow and can be harvested the gardeners cook their favorite dish, out of the crops from their plot. They are encouraged to share their meal with others and talk about their experience.
As part of the exhibition Poison Green curated by Kristyna and Marek Milde in the Czech Center Gallery is a large wooden working table with benches, which serves as a presentation platform and gathering space of the Dinner Garden project. The process of growing food is monitored and documented by each participant in form of diary and display of photographs on the gallery wall.
While today convenient and easy access to an abundance of food seems a matter of course, the source and the mechanism of its production remain largely out of sight. The glossy and uniform food packages seem to provide necessary information, however the product data put together with stories written about authenticity; endorsed by seals and marks, seem to divert one’s attention from the context and process of its creation, therefore making the modern food industry fit into genres such as mystery, ideology, sci-fi or political thriller.
This workshop and think tank experiment explores basic methods and possibilities of establishing a community garden in the urban setting but at the same time it strives to bring awareness to the process of food production by facilitating the experience of gardening and growing food to curious urbanites.