Fereshteh Toosi shows us a lot by making us blind. In “Shoebox Lunch,” a performance on Sunday, July 9th at The Hub, the conventionally visual medium of performance art is expounded into a multi-sensory, multi-voiced exploration of history using food and oral storytelling.
The interactive performance takes place in total darkness. Participants wear blindfolds while guided by Toosi to identify objects by feeling with our hands the texture, weight and shape that she describes. We are invited to smell, touch and taste the objects while we listen to a story. The recorded track includes a person with a personal experience with that ingredient as well as a music track that corresponds with the time or place. A box of mesquite spice accompanies a story about traditional BBQ, causing us to salivate at the luscious descriptions of the beloved home-cooked meal. Cinnamon brings us into the world of a woman describing her the experience of her families pumpkin pie, warm out of the oven. A moist cupcake, a packet of dried cherries: these tastes and smells intensify as we become absorbed in the stories they become a part of and we hone our senses by quieting our visual realm.
As the stories become a part of our bodies, entering us in a deep and literal way, we learn about soul food and the soul of the food. The performance is capped off with an invitation to continue the narrative of one of the objects. We rattle a pill case by our ear, listening to the sound of mungbeans. We are invited to take home them home to sprout. The shared seeds and the shared stories are taken into homes and put into the earth, grown and turned to food for our bodies. The seeds carry on and grow, as Toosi brings to life these personal and historical narratives of families and food heritage.
Photo by Giana Gambino
Rosa Gaia Saunders is a video artist and writer from Canada. She works as an independent video artist, specializing in video installation and creative documentation of performance art and dance. She also works as a post-production producer for Nolan Collaborative, a boutique video editing house in River North. She acted as the director of Development for Rapid Pulse this year. Rosa also enjoys yoga, contact improv dance, creative nonfiction writing and full-bellied laughter.