a durational public performance
Public space becomes private when families, lovers, and friends temporarily occupy the picnic ground. A picnic can be a practice of exclusion. Implicit in the gathering—whether through wealth, leisure, or specific cultural celebration—is a separation.
A Picnic on Home Soil is a chance to be intimate with strangers in a public space. In this moment, we belong to this place. “Each time we enter a new place, we become one of the ingredients of an existing hybridity, which is really what all ‘local places’ consist of,” notes art critic Lucy R. Lippard.
Gone are the days of mere stranger-danger moral panic; in America, if not globally, we live precariously under regimes of fear and suspicion. Nationalistic, racist, and xenophobic actions and policies are continuing to rip communities and families apart, and as feminist writer and independent scholar Sara Ahmed warns, “There can be nothing more dangerous to a body than the social agreement that that body is dangerous.”
A picnic blanket is a symbolic structure. Each thread connects to the other threads. There are multiple centers: “Most of us move around a lot,” writes Lippard, “but when we move we often come into contact with those who haven’t moved around, or have come from different places.”
We call for an expansive multicenteredness, a reimagining of socialist democratic ideals and values. We do this through new models of community, radical tactics of emotionality, and a commitment to the social. A Picnic on Home Soil invites participants to partake in conviviality with strangers, intentionally mingling private lives within public spaces.
In this performance, not only do we look toward the horizon for inspiration, but also we attempt to make manifest horizontal ways of being together, of sharing experiences. Lippard reminds us, “By entering that hybrid, we change it, and in each situation we may play a different role.”