In the performance Eat All You Can, four elderly women orbit two “all-you-can-eat-buffet tables” like hounds guarding their prey, in a concise, combative choreography. The round tables are positioned in the center of a pattern of purple circles placed on the floor that call to mind a solar system. Here, the centerpiece cheese-wheel in the middle of each table stands in for the sun that they all revolve around. As the women circle the tables, their behavior slowly begins to erode social codes; one woman conjures up a stool and sits down directly in front of the table, and eats with her fingers, piling up a never-ending plate, while another lays down on the floor, pulls up her skirt and digs into her pantyhose as she tries to rid herself from some unknown thing that has gotten stuck deep down inside her tights. Each of the women, in turn, challenge one another to small talk, that quickly turns into a series of minimal stories, far too personal in reality to be shared between strangers at a buffet table (especially as they are spoken into their own, self-amplifying, phallically-shaped microphones). Each story begins with minimal gestures of domination, such as addressing, pointing out loudly across the room (and into the microphone) that a woman “has hummus on her cheek”. The stories progress into intimate memories of desire, manipulation, and contempt.
These brief texts reveal, and amplify, an unusual, almost violent, voice that disrupts stereotypes of the elderly, cultured woman. The stories and the choreography have a hypnotic quality and make use of circling motions in terms of how the performers move their bodies in the space as well as the patterns they perform moving through the space. Once the final story is told, the women leave the space, allowing for the scene to come full circle as the audience can now, themselves, enter the buffet table to eat and perform their own scenes of consumption, desire, competition, and small talk.
Eat All You Can explores what kinds of impulses lay behind the competitive modes that arise when humans are presented with free food. The brief scenes and vignettes emerged and dispersed much like in a dream sequence, ultimately turning the scene into a smorgasbord of broken social codes.
Musée d’Art et d’Histoire du Judaïsme (mahJ) during Nuit Blanche
Viviana Moin, Jacqueline Samulon, Huguette Puttermilec, Deborah Cohen