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2021 SPE Annual Conference: Imagining Legacy: Archives, Collections, and Memoria

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Glenna Jennings

SPE Member since 2012
Member Chapter: Midwest

At Table (feastings)

At Table is on ongoing series of photographs (2004-present) that celebrate "the table" as an experiential space for congregation, consumption and general conviviality. The work began when partial transition from film to DSLR suddenly allowed for more intimate and ubiquitous image production. While traveling through cultural geographies including North America, China and Europe, I use my lens to navigate and document gastro-politics from a perspective that is local in depth but global in breadth. I have thus far collected thousands of moments that capture friends, family and strangers sharing time around food, drink and domestic happenings. During post-production, I search for moments of subtle social drama within these mundane "tablescapes," seeking out captures in which gestures, expressions and still life arrangements congeal to collectively perform. In "Eating Culture" (2015), Gillian Crowther describes food as "the only consumed cultural artifact that quite literally becomes us." My images often expand on this notion of food's anthropological value to include drink, board games, art and the diverse array of inanimate objects that inform our everyday aesthetics. Influences range from Tina Barney and Nan Goldin's work with familiar social groups to Martin Parr's humorous social critique. As a whole, the series not only provides an archive of my own At Table experiences; it also reveals distinctive cultural habits, timely artifacts and human behaviors in, on and around a common symbol of safety and comfort. Images from this series have been exhibited in the US and China, usually as installations on custom-designed wallpapers with motifs appropriated from political and popular culture, such as state dinners. While I work towards publishing book comprised of select images and ficto-critical writings, I offer this small collection of images (without wallpaper) subtitled "feastings," a category which portrays my "multi-sited field work" of special social occasions that reveal diverse identities.

At Table #27 (Jiangsu Province, China)

At Table #3 (San Diego, CA, USA)

At Table #122 (Ensenada, Mexico)

At Table #98 (London, England)

At Table #76 (Kuching, Sarawak, Malaysia)

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