To Gathering:
The Making of a Meal

Past sessions:
19 April 2020
30 May 2020
4 Nov 2020

Past participants:

1 Anthea Seah
2 Winifred Wong
3 Jemima Yong
Chong Gua Khee
5 Feroz Khan
6 Farhan Idris
7 Chelsea Chua
8  Zam (Muhd. Muazzam Amanah)
Sanjana Tadepalli
10 Jill Tan
11 Nicholas Yeo
12 Carolyn Oei
13 Hafiz Yusof
14 Diane
15 Xiaowei
16 Nicole

It is a weekend evening during COVID-19 lockdown in Singapore. Guests are invited to share a meal over Zoom. We live-stream our cooking process, screens are windows into strangers’ lives. Guests ‘arrive’ and we put in our best efforts at hosting, negotiating the awkwardness of new intimacies, and inviting honest sharing across the two-dimensional medium. What spaces and resources were negotiated, what choices and sacrifices were made, in order to make this gathering possible? What is excluded from the frame?

“I do not invite strangers into my home under normal circumstances, yet there I was, sharing the messy chaos of my kitchen with people I did not know [...] here was someone’s bedroom or living area or pet from which they derived comfort and rest; in turn I shared how my own space provided refuge [...] Under the rules of the circuit breaker, gathering meant interacting via a screen, where interacting via a screen meant others were able to look into my home as I looked into their own spaces, where boundaries of private and public became permeable, where we all needed to perform negotiations with the people we live with to achieve some form of harmony [...] I wonder what other intimacies might have been brokered if we continued to make and share meals together.”
- Chelsea Chua

"Brack's Making of a Meal was my first time attending a 'dinner party' on Zoom, and I was struck by how quickly and powerfully the format of the event allowed us all to connect. [...] I felt less like I was trying to recapture the feeling of in-person connection and more like I was being invited into something new: a gentler, more intimate way of gathering in a virtual medium, complete with storytelling and spontaneous dancing."
– Feroz Khan

“This virtual gathering was the first time I had cooked in the kitchen of my family home since returning from the U.S.; it felt surprisingly vulnerable to relearn the surfaces, constraints, and feel of this space in front of the seven other people I was cooking alongside. As we sat down to eat and talk, a mellow openness washed over this group of mostly strangers, and I felt very grateful to know what each person was sharing of themselves for this sliver of time.”
- Jill Tan

"I was reminded of the ritual of having dinner together with my family and the guilt that comes with not doing that, but being still in the same house as the rest of the family [...] We danced at the same time, but it didn't feel like we were dancing together [...] Where were we all looking? Were we always looking at everyone? Were we sometimes looking at one person? Were we ever looking at the same person?"
– Jemima Yong

“The act of cooking or heating food up wasn't stressful; it's something we do regularly. Neither was showing people around my flat. I entertain a lot. I love to have people over and all we do is sit around the dining table and talk. For hours. As much as I appreciated the enforced personal time as a result of the lockdown, I missed the physical company and conversation.”
– Carolyn Oei

“I remember very clearly my reflective thoughts [...] Things like ‘the unexpected space’ which got me to re-think why I had the wall of my children’s room done as such. [Then’ the ‘common shared item/space’ that I shared with my family [...] I mentioned the plate that I’m using. However, it goes beyond that. It is actually the common eating sessions that I share with my my family members.”
– Hafiz Yusof

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