Silence Meal, Zagreus Project, Berlin, 2015 (detail) View full image

Nina Backman

Silence Meal

When we silence our words, something potent rises that has no chance of getting to the surface otherwise. When we do it together around a shared meal, the experience is magnified and unexpected.

Jaanika Peerna, Artist

The Silence Meal is a performative experience hosted by Finnish artist Nina Backman. The performance follows the ritual of a meal, commencing when the artist sits down. In removing the spoken word guests are left to explore a myriad of sensory experiences invited by the silence. Free of verbal distraction, the communality of silence brings with it an intensity unique to the occasion. Each occasion is distinctive, with each performance and participant's experience differing, each performance becomes a unique constellation.

The hallmarks of silence weave through Backman’s art, it is integral to her artistic process. Her work encompasses installation, performance and visual art. For Backman, silence brings together different but related elements within a conceptual framework, in turn creating new dialogues. These set out to invite critical reflection, to expose layers otherwise unnoticed, to challenge perceptions as yet outside our realm of experience.

The Silence Meal is a site specific performance and has taken place in gallery space, on stage, outside and privately. First conceived as part of the HIAP Residency Programme in 2013, Silence Meals have now taken place in Berlin, Brussels, Shanghai, Paris, Iceland, Norway and Finland. The work has received international acclaim in Europe with the most recent Silence Meal being hosted at Flagey Studios for their supporters as part of their Arvo Pärt weekend. Taking advantage of the unique sound environment at Flagey, the artist has created a 7” vinyl recording and collage to be gifted to the guests who attended the performance. To date, performances have been documented using film, photography and sound.

Within the gallery or in a private setting the optimum number of guests is 30, making the experience very intimate. The performance can be produced for a larger audience in a theatrical setting by the creation and installation of a purpose-built round table, which would seat up to 60 people.

For more information please telephone +44 203 637 2789

© Nina Backman

Born in Helsinki in 1971, Nina Backman, originally studied Stage and Performance Design in Liverpool, UK. She lives and works in Berlin, exhibiting internationally. Her work occupies a space between stage design, installation and performance. She has worked within a wide spectrum of creative disciplines: film, theatre, photography and design. Her pieces confront the viewer questioning life concepts, identities and values. Silence is integral to her artistic practice, it brings together related elements within a conceptual frame to create new dialogues. These invite critical reflection, to expose layers otherwise unnoticed, to challenge perceptions of our ‘normal’ experience.

Silence Meal