Fluent~Collaborative & testsite are pleased to present Final Meals, a community-based performance by Lucky Pierre. The project opens Sunday, June 3 with a public reception and video installation from 4 to 6 PM, and a conversation between the artists at 4:30 PM.
As published by the Texas Department of Criminal Justice since 1982, the last meals requested by Texas death row inmates are prepared and consumed—a customary ritual that is concurrently filmed. Over the course of a week, Lucky Pierre will cook recreations of these final meals at testsite. A volunteer is then videotaped eating the meal. The recorded video is a single 22-mintue overhead black and white shot. The food is the focus of the video, what is prepared, what is consumed. The daily experience of food consumption, through Final Meals, becomes a final gesture towards and marker of state-sanctioned comfort and violence. The participant moves from a space of welcome—joining the event—to a space of contemplation and eating in silence.
310 final meals have been published online by the State of Texas—in 2003, the State ceased publicly listing final meal requests. Over the past 10 years, Lucky Pierre has now re-created 220 meals. Via residencies at testsite and the Grace Church of Logan Square, Chicago, Lucky Pierre is working to complete the filming of 310 meals. When completed, the project will include over 100 hours of footage. The compiled videos will be included in Walls Turned Sideways: Artists Confront the Justice System, an exhibition at the Contemporary Art Museum in Houston curated by Risa Puleo, opening in August 2018.
Lucky Pierre, based in Chicago, was founded in 1996 as a collaborative group working in writing, performance, and visual art. Often emphasizing duration in process and performance, Lucky Pierre creates structures for open forms of engagement with various publics. In these forms, we explore complex issues and ideas (political, aesthetic, social) in ways that accommodate a wide range of experience, styles and approaches. The open structure allows collaborators and viewers to define their own participation; helping to create the meaning, and determine the final form and outcome of the work. Lucky Pierre’s work has been presented throughout the US and Europe in Zagreb, Budapest, Kansas City, Frankfurt, Chicago, Portland, London, Fribourg, Leipzig, Minneapolis, Rome, Graz, New York, and Estonia.
Recent projects include the lecture/performance/all-day walk Emerson Takes a Walk performed in Chicago, London, Budapest, and, most recently, at Regina Rex Gallery (Brooklyn, NY). Lucky Pierre’s America/n, a 13-hour event with 35 guest performers, was presented on Election Day 2012 at Defibrillator (Chicago). “America/n,” a companion publication supported by the Propeller Fund, was released on Inauguration Day. Actions for Chicago Torture Justice was part of the exhibition Opening the Black Box: The Charge is Torture at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago Sullivan Galleries. The booklet “100 Actions for Chicago Torture Justice” was recently published by Temporary Services/ Half Letter Press. The Lucky Pierre piece What We Don’t Talk About: 12-Hour Conversation about the War in Afghanistan was staged in Chicago on the 10-year anniversary of the war.
Lucky Pierre members currently working on Final Meals include Holly Abney, Kevin Kaempf, Jeff Kowalkowski, Michael Thomas, and Mary Zerkel.
Risa Puleo is an independent curator and critic. Her exhibition Walls Turned Sideways: Artists Confront the American Justice System opens at the Contemporary Arts Museum in Houston in August 2018 and will be accompanied by a catalogue published by Name Publications. Her exhibition Monarchs: Brown and Native Contemporary Artists in the Path of the Butterfly, curated for Bemis Center for Contemporary Art during her year as curator-in residence there, will open at MOCA North Miami in June, before traveling to venues in San Antonio, Kansas City, and Minneapolis. Her exhibitions have been hosted by the Leslie Lohman Museum in New York City, Franklin Street Works in Stamford, CT, ArtPace, San Antonio, Charlotte Street Foundation in Kansas City, and more. Puleo has Master’s degrees from the Center for Curatorial Studies at Bard College and Hunter College and is in the Ph.D. Art History program at Northwestern University. She has written for Art in America, Art Papers, Art 21, Asia Art Pacific, Hyperallergic.com, Modern Painters and other art publications.