70 x 7 The Meal act XXXIV, Philadelphia
Matériaux: Royal Limoges porcelain plate, enamel and platimum. Editions of 600 plates, dated and signed by the artists
Dimensions: 27cm diameter
Exhibition history: 2013 Thomas Paine Plaza, Philadelphia, USA
Courtesy: Lucy + Jorge Orta and Mural Arts Philadelphia, USA
To mark its 30th anniversary Mural Arts Philadelphia commissioned Lucy + Jorge Orta to create the most ambitious Act of 70 x 7 The Meal act XXIV an open-air open-air lunch for 900 guests in the heart of the city of Philadelphia. The meal drew from a year-long public programme entitled What We Sow, which focused on the loss of the biodiversity of heirloom species and their effect on global health, with a particular focus on plant species in danger of disappearing in the US.
On 5 October 2013, 150 volunteers re-seated the 900 guests in the heart of the urban landscape, at the Thomas Paine Plaza. Tables were set with the Royal Limoges porcelain edition and table runners incorporating Lucy + Jorge Orta’s drawings of heirloom fruit and vegetables. At the end of the meal, each guest took home their porcelain plate contributing to a ripple effect of conversations from the table, to the civic space, to the private sphere, and back to the table. The menu of heirloom produce created by Philadelphia’s star Chef Marc Vetri was served on giant shared platters. Guests from a huge diversity of the city’s residents shared the communal tables with others awarded invitations by lottery; public space became the stage for intermingling citizen voices. And for those that couldn’t attend the meal, simultaneous luncheons were staged across Philadelphia so that hundreds more people could take part in the action and discussions, the estimated reach in the eight-day build up to the public event was just under 400,000 people.
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