Talking With Marina Abramović About Loneliness, and Dinner Plates

Marina Abramović: Misfits for the Table Dinnerware Set

Marina Abramović: Misfits for the Table Dinnerware Set

Is it art? And is it dishwasher-safe?

Those are some of the questions that might come to mind upon being told by artist Marina Abramović, as we were Tuesday night, that she had collaborated with 152-year-old French tableware company Bernardaud on a new collection of porcelain dinnerware. The project, which comes with an explanatory 10-minute video, is titled Misfits for the Table.

When Ms. Abramović was approached by Bernardaud to design a “performative” plate set, both she and the company were initially stumped, she said. “It was like ‘Oh my God, what are we going to do now? Are we going to break dishes?’ ” Ms. Abramović said at a preview of the collection in the MoMA lobby bookshop this week. Eventually, though, they came up with a solution: tableware for those dining alone.

The performance artist’s first foray into porcelain, “A Lonely Dinner for One” is one-half of the pricy $580 collection currently on sale at MoMA Design Store. According to a press release, “This might be the closest your dinner table will ever get to performance art.” (Is that meant as a comfort, or a tragedy?) And, while it remains a mystery as to what exactly performance art in the dining room entails, the set does indeed live up to its name, comprised of mismatching tableware complete with a “family crest” (a wolf chewing a lamb while a crow looks on) and a detail from her 2009 work Golden Lips.

In addition, single diners may also delight in eating directly out of a red Communist star, a reference to Ms. Abramović’s upbringing in the former-Yugoslavia and counterpart to the collection’s white star dish.

For Bernardaud, this follows in a long line of artist collaborations–from David Lynch to Jeff Koons. A rather light-hearted depiction of the joys of dining alone, the message of the piece “is really about the consciousness and the way of going behind the border and being with yourself,” according to the artist.

Of course, Ms. Abramović also provides the option of “Misfit Dinner for Two,” a combination of the two available sets. But who would be the artist’s fantasy dinner guest? “The Dalai Lama,” Ms. Abramović  said. “Because he would understand the white star and the red communism very well.” Talking With Marina Abramović About Loneliness, and Dinner Plates