The Dinner Parties 2019-2023


The Dinner Parties, Audio piece 1 (Gender marginalization), 2:32, sound design by Brendon Ehinger, accompanying Hand to Chest mixed media drawing

The Dinner Parties, Audio piece 2 (Success), 3:54, sound design by Brendon Ehinger, accompanying Hand to Chest mixed media drawing

For The Dinner Parties I invited gender marginalized visual artists for a homemade one-on-one meal to talk about art and life.  I dined with two artists from Brandon Manitoba, three artists from Winnipeg Manitoba, and four artists from Toronto Ontario. I selected the guest artists to represent a wide range of experiences, considering age, cultural background, family status, sexual orientation, ability, art practice, and stage in their art career. The dinners were documented using audio recording and stationary time lapse photography trained on my guests as we ate and talked. Using Feminist theorist Charlotte Bunch’s Model for Theory as a template to create an interview script, we discussed their art practices, how they defined success, what challenges they faced, and what supports they had or needed to create art.

After the meals I analyzed the photographic and audio source material – over 3,000 photos, and 18 hours of audio recording – in order to create artworks. I focused on selecting images of my guests where they were mid speech, mid bite, mid thought. I wanted to convey the time we spent together, the look of being in deep conversation, of being truly heard. I began noticing many of the same gestures being made by the guests, even though they were not dining together at the same time. I grouped the images together in like-gestures – clenched fists, a hand to the chest, arms outstretched, a hand to the mouth, thinking of the visual cues we use to communicate and creating a catalogue of body language that reflects the tone of our conversations.

I conducted qualitative analysis on the transcribed conversations with Dr.Breanna Lawrence and Nikki Brasseur to create audio pieces. The coding allowed us to find themes from the discussions, which I then used to compose thematic collages of our conversations.  Four pieces have been created: Grappling with continued gender inequity; Questioning what is success and who defines success; The influence of gender labels and the gender binary; and Unpaid labour, parenting and care work. The audio pieces layer the voices of my guests speaking about these four identified themes, underscoring the different ways that the guests internalize and make sense of the implications of gender on their experience of work, home and identity.