CHOP BAR | The Love Feast
Pop-Up Art Dinner Series
- 28-31 December 2019 -
A chop Bar, in West African parlance, is a roadside bar/ restaurant that also serves as a gathering place for the community.
To close the “Year of Return”, a year long commemoration campaign, marking 400 years to the deportation of the first enslaved Africans to Jamestown Virginia, USA, Pierre-Christophe Gam presented CHOP BAR | The Love Feast, an immersive total Art Dinner series using the social relations of food, art and storytelling to create a reboot station, for a spiritual and intellectual renewal of the African consciousness.
Spread over four days (28 - 31 December 2019) and set within a fictional Ancestor shrine, the Dinner Series provided a unique forum for the global African Diaspora to reflect on the legacy of Africa’s global spiritual and cultural imprint over the last 400 years, whilst activating minds in considering the task ahead of building the Africa and the World of tomorrow.
Dinners co-host included Ayo (Opal) Tometi, Ingrid Lafleur, Kone Katinan and Ugo Mozie.
Envisioning and Manifesting the future -
THE AFRICAN FOODWAYS
A vast array of West African cultural traits and traditions survived the hardships of slavery and contributed greatly in shaping America and the rest of the world across cultural lines, most particularly through religion, music and foodways. Enslaved Africans carried with them seeds, grains and cooking techniques from the motherland. The Gumbo of Louisiana (made with Okra) or the Hoppin’ John of South Carolina (made with black-eyed peas) are powerful examples of that legacy. Food is never just about food, and as with religion it is a critical way through which group orient themselves to the world. Deep social and cultural meanings are embedded within our everyday food practices and although taken for granted; seemingly trivial foodways often reveal encoded and highly ritualized set of behaviors.
Every evening from 8 til 10 pm, the LOVE FEAST offered through a six courses tailored menu, Art, scenography, spoken word performance and guest host led talk, a holistic and multi-sensorial exploration of the historical trajectories of the African diaspora over the last 400 years. Using only organic and sustainable ingredients, the chefs explored Africa's foodways, through a gustative dialogue between West African and traditional African-American cuisine. Each course was paired with unique cocktails created with Akpteshie, the local Ghanaian spirit.
Pierre-Christophe Gam collaborated with African-American Chef Mitchel Bonhomme and with Ghanaian poet Elikplim Akorli to narrate the story of an African family line through the ages. Six courses, six vignettes, each narrating a significant moment in the life of a member of this family, as a window into the journey of survival and Triumph against all odds of the African diaspora.
The LOVE FEAST is inspired by the banquets of the International Peace Mission Movement, whose famous slogan was “as we dine, we sing and praise GOD”. Founded by African American Minister Reverend M.J. Divine, better known as Father Divine (1879-1965), a precursor to the civic rights movement, the Peace Mission was a communitarian and racially integrated religious movement centered around worship in the form of “holy communion” banquet services. The movement’s religious food culture began in the early 1900’s in Sayville, Long Island, when Father Divine first devised a ritualized Eucharistic celebration in the form of an actual dinner, in fact a multicourse banquet serving traditional African-American Southern cuisine. The love-feast paired the ritualistic eating of food with the spiritual nourishment of its followers. Reaching its zenith during the depression era, the Peace Mission offered to its millions of followers and countless many more sympathizers, daily Holy Communion as a practical service for “the sustenance of the body and the benefit of the soul”. Free and open to the general public, with no restriction on gender, religion or ethnicity, these banquets offered retreats from the rigors of the Great Depression and of the segregation of the time.
Ingrid LaFleur is a curator, pleasure activist and Afrofuturist. Her mission is to ensure equal distribution of the future, exploring the frontiers of social justice through new technologies, economies and modes of government.
As a recent Detroit Mayoral candidate and creator of AFROTOPIA, LaFleur implements Afrofuturist strategies to empower Black bodies and oppressed communities through frameworks such as blockchain and universal basic income. Ingrid LaFleur is currently the Social Impact Advisor for Detroit Blockchain Center and the founder and director of the Institute for Afrofuture Strategies.
As a thought leader, social justice technologist, public speaker, teacher and cultural advisor she has led conversations and workshops at Centre Pompidou (Paris), TEDxBrooklyn, TEDxDetroit, Ideas City, New Museum (New York), AfroTech Conference, Harvard University and Oxford University, among others. LaFleur serves on the board of JustSpace Alliance, Powerhouse Productions, and the Cooley ReUse Project.
LaFleur is based in Detroit, Michigan.
Hailed as a new civil rights leader by those from the grassroots margins to media such as CNN and the LA Times - Opal Tometi is a trailblazing, internationally recognized voice for human rights and social justice. She is respected for her track record of uniting communities and her expertise on race, immigration and gender.
Tometi is one of 3 Black women who co-founded the #BlackLivesMatter platform and Global Network. She is the daughter of Nigerian immigrants to the US, and in early 2019 she completed nearly a decade of service as the executive director of the the Black Alliance for Just Immigration (BAJI) the United States 1st immigrant rights organization for people of African descent. She is a trusted advisor to many formations including the Atlantic Fellows for Racial Equity and Africans Rising for Peace and Dignity. She has received numerous recognitions including an honorary PhD, and was named 50 most influential people by Forbes, Marie Claire and Cosmopolitan and has a scholarship in her name to support the immigrant students pursuing their law degree at CUNY. In 2019 alone she received the Coretta Scott King Center awards, and Douglass 200 Award, and she is currently being featured in a video installation at the Smithsonian’s National Museum for African History and Culture for her contributions as a leader in the diaspora.
Although often traveling around the globe to support human rights initiatives she resides in New York where she loves spending time with close friends and collecting African art