This installation/performance piece was created for Burning Man
excerpted from my notes on Burning Man 1998:
paul fly and i set up our dinner table sculpture early on. this consisted of a nice little table and chairs, set up like a two top in a nice restaurant, with a beautiful tablecloth provided by dr. rooke, placemats and napkins and nice plates and silver and two wine glasses, two candles with electric bulbs, and two menus, all of which were superglued down to the table. inside the menus, paul had written up a little list of appetizers, main courses, and desert items which corresponded to theme camps within burning man, all written in genuine faux french; the restaurant was the cafe dans way le fuck out en nowhere middleux. the other side of the menu had a script that we had written; each person got their own lines to read, and so if you happened across this sculpture while wandering the open playa, perhaps chasing down those little pin points of light you saw in the distance, you'd wind up with the opportunity to do a scene with your friend. we rebarred the whole thing down and left it there. i had no idea what to expect, but i felt good about setting up art like this, having been inspired last year by the Very Large Array (the soundgarden, i called it) while wandering about the open playa.
* * * * *
that night i swallowed 180mg of MDMA and roamed around, later consuming approximately 25-35mg of 2cb, then later consuming 50mg more of MDMA. i spent a good portion of the night wandering from person to person, touching bases with as many people as i could, then eventually wandering off alone to see what i could see. i felt thoroughly and totally exhausted by our efforts to date; there was one more show tomorrow night; i charged out across the open playa remarking to myself that this was
indeed an incredible life i was leading, that my unrealistic hopes and dreams for the future notwithstanding, i was already
involved in something more incredible than many people would get to see in their time. i was charging out to check on the dinner table. i wanted to see it for myself, at night
the dinner table sculpture had by this point become something of a special, hidden pleasure. those who knew it was there told their friends. it was a remarkable, magical space. as i reached the table, there were two strangers sitting there enjoying it; they told me that word of the table was spreading throughout the entire camp, ppl were telling their friends to "check out the cafe in the middle of nowhere," ppl were now on the lookout for it. ppl filled up the water glasses
when they came out to visit; they left us notes, and one person left us a tip. at one point rain said she went out and found one of the glasses missing; soon enough someone walked up out of the darkness and handed her the glass, informing her that he had been waiting for dessert out on the veranda. yes, the service was slow, but the ambiance was quite remarkable. i think of all the things i did this year i'm most pleased with that one, with this collaboration with paul, because it was a kind of art i'd never attempted before, and it seemed to strike a chord.
(Instructions: Read your lines with a partner. You may, at your discretion, act the parts, or else you may simply read them as though you were actually saying these things.)
Note: each menu only contained that perons's 'sides' of the script, which looked something like this:
You: I don't believe I understand all this.
A: I don't believe I understand all this.
B: When do you suppose the waiter will come around?
A: How much did it cost to generate this much freedom?
B: Are you hungry for anything?
A: Oh, I'm not hungry. I'm thirsty.
B: They'll probably bring a pitcher of water by shortly.
A: I wouldn't count on it. Poem?
B: Sure, you start.
A: "There is
B: One art
A: No more
B: No less
A: To do
B: All things
A: With art
A: (pause, sigh) I must say, the atmosphere in this place is quite impressive. Must have cost a fortune. The decor is simply remarkable.
B: Do you sense a purpose here? What reasons lie behind the shimmering facade?
A: What, don't you like this place? We can always go somewhere else.
B: No, that's not it. That's not it at all.
A: (pause) So God goes to his doctor and says, "Doc, such a problem I've got ... When I was younger, I always used to make stones so goddamn heavy that I couldn't lift them off the ground -- but these days every time I make a stone, I can pick it up no problem. So Doc, my question is, am I getting more omnipotent or less?
B: Har har. (pause) A Texas cattle rancher was proudly driving a visiting sheep rancher from Idaho around his giant Texas ranch in a jeep, bragging, "Ah kin drahv due west all day long, from sunrahz to sundown, and still not leave mah property." Unimpressed, the visitor replied, "Oh yeah -- I once had a jeep like that too."
A: Tasteful ... very tasteful.
B: The service around here isn't very good. A waiter should have come around by now.
A: Is that all you think about? Relax! Enjoy the ambiance.
B: Well, the ambiance is something else alright, but I definitely came here for a meal of some kind ... nourishment -- that's why I'm here. I'm in the mood.
A: In the mood for something real?
B: Yeah, I've been living in a dream.
A: And that's why you came here?
B: Yeah, I guess so...
A: You have no questions?
B: Did you come here looking for an answer?
A: I look up at the moon at night and think, I don't know why I came here.
B: (pause) And why do you stay?
A: (pause) Because I can't bear to leave.
B: Well then, I guess we'll just sit here until the waiter comes along.
A: I think it might be a while...
B: Well, in the meanwhile, at least the company is good.