The Waldorf Project @ The Oval Space, London
“Uniting the senses through food, fine wine, scent, sound, movement and setting, the Waldorf Project is an immersive experience on a colossal stage… At its zenith a new art form will be realised.” When one receives a press release with such lofty claims, it’s natural to be skeptical, but in this case the grandiose tone is well justified.
A week-long pop-up at Oval Space, one of London’s most interesting cultural venues, The Waldorf Project is a multidisciplinary, experimental and experiential installation which brings together seven of the most pioneering practitioners in the worlds of visual art, choreography, theatre, design, electronic music and gastronomy – under the direction of artist Sean Rogg.
The second chapter in a series of six, the current Waldorf Project focuses on colour, with audiences invited into variously coloured spaces that have been carefully designed to question our sensorial perceptions. Following years of painstaking research, Rogg has created an experience that aims to synchronise consumption and emotional sentience – exploring the effect of colour, sound, taste and interaction with fellow guests and your ‘hosts’ – dancers who perform with different characteristics according to the room and colour they inhabit.
Despite delving into all the senses – with a particularly clever and intriguing soundtrack, and some sublime choreography, especially towards the night’s end – food and drink still seem to be at the heart of the experience, providing focal points and structure to a complex, avant-garde event. What reveals itself is essentially a seven-course meal, made up of 748 ingredients, but presented through a series of, almost anonymous, ‘food-cubes’ – each accompanied by a different wine, as selected by Rogg himself, in collaboration with a master sommelier.
The wines were superb – and well justify the price of the ticket alone – but for us, the food didn’t always hit the mark. At certain moments, the desire to experiment sometimes seemed to override the desire to create something that tasted good. At other moments, however, they were simply genius and at no point did we stop wanting to try more – our curiosity continuously increased rather than sated.
And that really is the point. The Waldorf Project, as an experiment and a piece of art, is exhilarating and inspiring – and, whether every bite is exactly to your taste or not, it must be experienced.
Before arrival, visitors receive a simple but very specific set of instructions: phones on silent and screens to be dimmed, eat slowly, dress entirely monochromatically (including socks)… all of which we can confirm valid and worth following. But, for us, to really enjoy the Waldorf Project entirely there’s only one rule you should follow – come with open minds, open hearts and open mouths!
5th- 11th February 2015 http://www.waldorfproject.com