Artist invites public to taste colour in ten-day event with dancers and wine at The Oval

By Ben Miller | 03 February 2015

Visitors asked to dress monochromatically and sit on cubes as artist aims for science of taste

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“The project fully materialised four years ago in Madrid in a disappointing Michelin-starred restaurant experience,” recalls Sean Rogg, the photographer and filmmaker who has turned his eye to bottles aplenty and food with the taste of colour in the second iteration of his Waldorf Project.

“The chef was no doubt an artist, and the food no doubt art, but there was an unsettling realisation: no matter how beautiful the food, it had to be destroyed in order to be eaten. This is a problem I have strived to solve with Chapter Two.

"More importantly, the restriction the restaurant was under was clear, meaning the plate was the stage and the food the art.

“The smells, sounds and visuals were all being ignored. The stage had to be expanded.

"It needed to fill the entire environment and absolutely had to consider all the senses.”

Taking place in London’s Oval Space and assisted by a designer, a chef and a food consultant, Rogg has spent two years and a “colossal” amount of money creating a manipulative realm of seven spaces draped in monochrome.

The audience get seven installations and seven courses (served by dancers), but are participants rather than submissive samplers.

Its zenith, he asserts, is absolutely an art form, although the wine alone could be worth more than the £160 ticket price.

A photo of a square grey cube with a trail of food colouring on the table behind it
Forty-eight members of the public will be allowed in© Thomas Bowles
“I see wine as an art form. I have been passionate about it for many years and have travelled extensively to explore wine cellars all over the world.

“Through some very hard persuasion I was able to secure a small parcel of wine treasures for Waldorf.

"Presenting incredible wine will be an ongoing feature in chapters to come – the point being that I wish the participants to experience something new, something most would not have had before…mind-blowing wine.

“It is designed to act as a key to unlock emotions, and to prepare for the artistic experiences to be taken in.”

Before Chapter One, in 2012, Rogg made merry with sound and set designers and a choreographer for a ten-day performance in which a more sobering set of exhibits - 1,000 sealed bottles of water from around the world - were presented to the public at The Wapping Project.

“It was during this performance that I realised I no longer wanted to make video art,” he says. “Rather, I wanted to create a more immersive performance.

“As I saw the water being consumed and interpreted by the guests, I saw a ‘total art’ - an art being taken in through all the senses.”

Rogg, who also has exhibited domestically at Bloomberg Space and the ICA, says he specifically sought chefs and musicians who could design food and sound with unusual flair.

He wound up with a French pastry chef graduate, a consultant for French television who specialises in avant-garde cookery, a former chef at the Ivy who once took on Mick Jagger’s tastebuds and a costume consultant who has designed stages with Alexander McQueen.

The Italian electro musician behind Tate Modern’s Oil Tanks, a designer for Auf Wiedersehn, Pet and Little Britain and a pair of choreographers with international awards and current engagements with the Jasmin Vardimon Company have also shaped this potential sensual feast.

“Not only was I asking that the food objects be revolutionary in as much as they actually taste like colour, but I was also asking the food designer to pair food with the environment,” says Rogg, setting out his demands with the rigour of the choosiest vineyard keeper.

“Not only did the soundscapes have to sound like their respective colours, but I was asking the sound designer to pair his soundscapes to wine.

“The costume designer had to create patterns that mimicked the architectural landscapes. Human beings will never behave like you expect them to, but the choreography controls the environment, keeping energy moving to where it should be in order for the synergy to persist.

“I plan to deepen this new art form creating deeper and more intense synergies.”

  • Waldorf Project: Chapter Two / Colour is at The Oval, London from February 5-11 2015. Tickets £160. Visit waldorfproject.com.

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