Seven Acts was a gastronomic material performance exploring architectural properties of food and of the experience of the dining space. The idea was to open the dining space (like matryoshka dolls) over seven acts. The conceptual themes were blackness and the matryoshka. The menu’s courses were designed around a progressive change in temperature; courses began at cold (frozen) and worked their way through liquid, room temperature, hot, hotter...
Guests were ushered in groups of four into black 'cubicles' formed by drawn curtains. After each course, the screened walls were pulled back to reveal neighboring diners, changing the social dynamic of the dining room. By the end, guests were sitting next to one another at a long banquet table.
Eight Acts (2009) had explored the white cube as a spatial and culinary conceit—eight varied courses of white cubes were served, and over these eight acts, the diners were slowly enclosed in a white cube space. In response, Seven Acts left the aesthetic purity of the white cube behind in favor of boundless BLACK. Rather than encasing the diners, Seven Acts would, like opening a series of matryoshka dolls, focus on opening up the dining space. Seven Acts sought to change not only the relationship between the diner and his/her dish (different bodily response to dishes of different temperatures). It also aimed to alter, over the evening, the relationship between diners, and the social dynamic of the entire dining room. The separation between diners was sequentially eliminated, and during the later courses, diners found themselves eating communally, sharing food.
Brian Ackley and Lisa Farjam, Chef Michael Lee of NY underground supperclub, Studiofeast and local beer brewer John William Tasevoli & crew