Nowy Teatr, Warsaw – Symbolism & Meaning in Historical Banquets


Nowy Teatr - Polityka Kuchenna, Public Lecture
Symbolism & Meaning in Historical Banquets

Curator: Dagna Jakubowska
Speaker: Ryan Frederick Bromley, Canada & Poland


One of my research aims has been to position the discourse concerning the suitability of the chemical senses in art within the context of performance and body art. While this material has often-times been positioned solidly in 'Science-Art' (very often, deservedly so), I endeavour to connect the theoretical lineage from the Dadaists, validated through Alan Kaprow, through Fluxus, into a contemporary critical practice that utilises the chemical senses in its expressions. It is my conviction that the inclusion of the chemical senses, so long dislocated from the corpus of art, could re-emerge at the point where the Symbolists left off, transforming from analogue to digital, to bring about a holistic sensory art movement that hasn't yet happened in the history of art. 

Nowy Teatr is one of the most important contemporary theatres in Poland.  Rooted firmly in the tradition of Jerzy Gratowski, Krzysztof Warlikowski, Director of the theatre, has created a following of his own by continuing down the trail that Gratowski blazed.    

I was invited by curator, Dagna Jakubowska, and Theatr Nowy to contribute in partnership with a theatre director/artist of their choosing, to a programme that focused on the politics of food. I have long had a desire to produce a performance/theatre intervention with the subject material of the Yalta Summit banquet, dinner meetings between Churchill, Roosevelt and Stalin that carved the political landscape of Europe for all future generations. The idea was to develop this material in a very abstract way for Jakubowska's curated programme. That particular endeavour did not turn out to be a success - the theatre producer that the they had partnered me with was non-communicative, stalling until the project eventually collapsed.   The theatre still wanted to work with me but, unfortunately, there wasn't much time left to prepare performance material. Instead, I picked up the theme of Yalta and transformed it into a talk on the social-political role of food in exercising power throughout the ages.        

Event Description

The event was a very nice interconnection of disciplines and expressions revolving around food. My talk filled the room and the audience was very engaging. With the starting place of food as 'a biological imperative' in juxtaposition to dining as our most highly-elevated social activity, I took the audience through selected examples of when food was used to wrangle power in society - this done with a particular eye towards banqueting. From the apple in the relationship between God, Adam and Eve, to the Greek Symposiums, the Last Supper, Brugell's Land of Cockaigne, 18th Century Russian indulgence, the march of Stalin's crab army, and onwards. 

While the lecture did not achieve the aim of positioning the art of the chemical senses within the theatre, I felt honoured to contribute in my own way to the theatre's programme. The lecture served to introduce some of the subject material that could be drawn upon if engaging the chemical senses in contemporary theatre productions, as well as to explore some of the underpinning theory in service of my own research. 



Presentation Notes  



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