Sobre (over or on top) and Mesa (table)
Sobremesa is a cultural practice shared by Hispanic cultures that was brought to the Americas by Spanish colonizers. It is the accumulation of plates and leftovers atop a table that marks the beginning of sobremesa, and can typically last for a lengthy period of time. For example, a lunch that starts at 2:00 pm can extend until 6:00 pm or later, during which time everything is brought to the table. Sometimes objects are brought from some forgotten drawer in the house to illustrate a memory. In the time and space of sobremesa, difficult conversations may mix with light and funny moments, all of which build resilience against forgetfulness and become a continuous part of shared experiences. The table during sobremesa is a safe space where things can be addressed through extended dialogue, and be given the time and attention in order to find resolution. Essentially, sobremesa is the act of stretching the time at the table after a meal - it is the time and space for conversation, the sharing of memories, the unveiling of information, planning, a time to be, a time to gather, stay, and be together. Desert plates, bread, wine glasses, coffee cups and liquors accumulate on top of the table while stories and histories pile up, one on top of the other, in a constant flow of conversation.
Bring together cultural practices that challenge expectations and serve as a platform for public discourse.
Sobremesa (Karaoke Politics) is a public art project that will be installed in an outdoor lot on Geneva Avenue in the Grove Hall neighborhood in Boston, Massachusetts (across the street from The Grove Hall Community Center, the Grove Hall branch of the BPL, and Burke Highschool). The project will be installed and on view starting mid September 2019 and will be accessible until late October. It will be open to the community and public for the entire duration of the installation.
The installation will feature numerous repurposed dining tables reinforced by an underlying structure and secured together, one next to another, to create a big open table/platform. The table/platform is conceived of as a space for challenging habits by inviting the public to literally step on top of the tables and utilize the space as a platform for conversation (a place for spending time together, talking, taking a coffee break, hosting a karaoke session, etc). The tables will be stained with different colors and weather proofed. The coloring of the tables will resemble the image of a political map of sorts, where each table becomes its own territory, defined by clear boundaries. Just the act of participating - walking on the tables and sharing the space, will challenge habitual patterns of connecting and disturb constructed boundaries. Steps and a wheel-chair accessible ramp leading to the table-height platform will ensure it is available for everyone’s use.
Create a space to be vulnerable together.
Dismantle the territories of expectation.
My goal for this project is to create a community meeting place and platform for public dialogue in the neighborhood of Grove Hall that references the cultural and historical context of sobremesa, but can be adopted and utilized by the community. I hope that this platform allows people to share memories, stories and cultural practices that may challenge or dissolve the territories of expectation. Each table becomes its own territory within a larger map, and the bodies of the occupants can traverse these symbolic boundaries both physically and through their shared experiences. I also hope that this project draws attention to and heightens the humanity of our shared experiences, brings recognition to the value that lies in difference, and strengthens public equity in the process.