Description of the scene:

On November 16 2018, I was given the opportunity to ask some party-goers to invite the ghost of a departed person or the presence of someone in a far-away location to share a meal. These participants were guests at a party that was being held at KRACK! Studio in Yogyakarta.

I positioned myself at the entrance of the studio and asked each guest to pick a number from a bowl I offered - they were to approach me when I called out their number. Some refused. The ones who participated were asked to think of someone deceased or absent, whom they’d like to share a meal with. They are given a small plate and glass to put together little portions of food and drink. When they return with the food offering, they place it on the mat and I ask them to say the full name of the presence they are inviting.

They are covered with the fabric of their choice and given some time before they are uncovered…

After-thoughts:

The simplicity of such an action can initiate a process of acknowledging unresolved relationship issues.  This is the beginning of a peace-making process, where the capacity for communication is experienced within a ritual that is created out of the everyday.

It is an exploration of how we can renew models of traditional rituals steeped in many South East Asian cosmologies, stripping it down to more direct and practical purposes of supporting human relationships. Sharing a Meal with your Ghost raises questions around our emotional integrity and freedom of expression with people we are closest with.

It also serves as a participatory framework that straddles the performative and ritualistic, whilst allowing individuals to create their own approach to ‘ceremony’ within it. The participants are gently persuaded to activate the memory of someone deceased who was significant in their lives, while they are performing the task of putting together a platter of food for their ghostly guest. By the time they sit down again they have prepared themselves to be open to this communication. Covering them with a fabric allows the creation of a ‘third space’ for (what I imagine) a deeper private communion to occur within the performative ritual space, which acts as the ‘second space’. The density of these activity is taking place within the ‘first space’, for we mustn’t forget the party!

 

An onlooker’s comment: “…people brought some food from a table and sat cross legged next to WeiZen, facing the wall. She engaged and spoke intimately with the guests. They seemed to agree to something. They were covered with a cloth. After a while WeiZen uncovered them. I found them to have been changed by the experience: some softened and some appeared de-stabilised by the experience…”