Lynn Hershman Leeson. Performance Dinners
From 1970 to 1983 Lynn Hershman Leeson created a series of “performance dinners” in San Francisco, each one honoring a close friend; through elaborate coordinations of table setting, dinnerware, props, music, and menus, each evening became an imaginative portrait of the featured guest.1 Ceramic dishes, like Lip and Bite Cup and Small Eye Plate (both 1976), were created for each dinner. “My plates turned the idea of eating inside out; pink protruding tongues licked edges of a salad,” described Hershman Leeson.2 At the time, she understood “performance” as theorized by sociologist Erving Goffman in The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life (1956), referring to an individual’s activities over a period of time, in the presence of a set of observers, which influence and are influenced by the observers. The viewers of these undocumented works were both spectator and agent—roles that resurface in the artist’s interactive video works.
Peter Weibel, “Performance Dinners,” in Lynn Hershman Leeson: Civic Radar, ed.* Weibel (Ostfildern, Germany: Hatje Cantz, 2016), 38. ↩︎
Lynn Hershman Leeson, quoted in a wall label for Performance Dinners (ca. 1976) in the exhibition Civic Radar, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, San Francisco, February 10–May 21, 2017. ↩︎