Photo courtesy of artist
Palestine Hosting Society is a live art project that explores traditional food culture in Palestine, especially those that are on the verge of disappearing. The project brings these dishes back to life over dinner tables, walks, and various interventions.
Palestine Hosting Society is founded and run by artist and cook Mirna Bamieh, as an extension of her art practice that often looks at the politics of disappearance, and memory production. Mirna creates artworks that unpack social concerns and limitations in contemporary political dilemmas, and reflect on the conditions that characterize Palestinian communities.
To date, Palestine Hosting Society has created several projects, including Family Dinners, Our Nabulsi Table, Our Jerusalem Table, A Wondering in Flavors: The Old City of Jerusalem, a table, a tour and a map, The Wheat Feast, The Edible Wild Plants of Palestine Table, Our Gaza Table, and Food Walks. After an intensive research period for each project, the collective creates a menu that is shared over one long table for 40-60 guests, with dishes carefully selected to create spaces of reflection upon socio-political realities, attitudes, and historical practices, and even the suppressed elements of history.
Menu of Dis/appearance
Mirna Bamieh/Palestine Hosting Society | Live Arts Bard Commission | World Premiere
In its first dinner performance in the United States, Palestine Hosting Society presents an expanded approach to “palestinianess” that trespasses borders and geographies. Through a menu that brings together dishes from Palestinian cities and villages, alongside others that were preserved in Palestinian refugee camps outside Palestine, and those that narrate inter-generational food habits and memory of the Palestinian diaspora, especially in the United States. Menu of Dis/appearance narrates stories about time, history, and parts of ourselves that we might have allowed to slip away.
Menu of Dis/appearance is a dinner performance that invites the audience on a journey through a selection of dishes that shares Palestine Hosting Society’s investigation and unearthing of traditional Palestinian cuisine. Some of these dishes have been forgotten, their names rendered mostly abstract to the current generation of Palestinians. Being denied a state of their own, Palestinians use food as a means to express an identity that is constantly undermined. Life under occupation atrophied this connection to food, through imposing restriction policies over food and water resources, inflicting control on wild plant foraging, as well as creating dissonance by showcasing Palestinian dishes as Israeli. Over the years, such measures created a kitchen that is dispossessed, making many Palestinian traditional dishes disappear, or temporarily withdraw.
More on Mirna Bamieh and the Palestine Hosting Society:
- Mirna Bamieh Website
- Palestine Hosting Society Website
- Article: “Revitalizing the Culture of Palestinian Food”
- Video: “Saving Palestine’s Forgotten Food”