Maya Chowdhry

What’s Eating Reality? (2019), live art piece

What’s Eating Reality? (2019), live art piece. Photo courtesy Natalie Willatt

Obstruction given by Alena Ruth Donely: Work more spontaneously by remaking your projection mapping What’s Eating Reality as a short sequence. This shortened projection must be no longer than 2 minutes. It may be displayed how you wish in Castlefield Gallery, projection mapping like we have previously discussed. It can be with or without poetry.

Maya Chowdhry:


The obstruction I was given led me to hone in on the essence of my original piece - ‘What’s Eating Reality?’- an immersive live dining experience, commissioned by Lancaster Arts for the Nuffield Theatre. ‘What’s Eating Reality?’ utilises digital participatory theatre, live art, projection mapping and commensality to examine food justice; aiming to transform food consumers into food citizens.


I chose this as my original work as I feel that more than ever humans have been faced with the paradoxical questions of feeding ourselves and protecting our fellow humans and planet during the pandemic.


I probably spent the first month of my development time agonising over how to present the vast area of food justice to an exhibition audience in 2 minutes. 


Alena said she’d given me this obstruction as I take a long time to make my work, considering both what I want to say and the impact it will have on humans digesting it - in all the myriad ways you could consume art.


But as I explored the form for the obstructed piece  the pandemic was already fostering further obstructions: no headphones in the gallery; being in a group show with other artists using audio-visual material; my original piece involved the audience sitting around a table eating together and conversing about food justice and what it meant to them - touching seeds, facing each other as strangers brought together for an event - everything that is currently on hold.


Because buying and consuming food in a normal way has been such a headache and also a tonic during the last 6 months - I started thinking about how after we’ve tasted a foodstuff our brain doesn’t need us to linger and savour the taste as it’s lodged in our memory, and why we have the teeth we have and went off for a while into the existentialism of eating to stay alive.


When I returned from this journey I had another paradox - pleasure and pain. We eat for pleasure but how and what we eat can cause pain to our fellow humans, the creatures we inhabit the planet with and the environment we live in.


So could I present the pleasure and pain of food justice in 2 minutes.




Thanks to all the collaborators I worked with to create ‘What’s Eating Reality?’ including:
Food Sketz

Susan Clarke

Ricardo Vilela

Adam York Gregory

David McBride
Leo Burtin
Alice Booth
Andrew Crofts

The soundscape in this remake is the original work of composer Caro C

Instagram @maya_chowdhry

What’s Eating Paradox (2020). Video 5min 47sec

What’s Eating Paradox (2020), dimensions variable, projection mapping onto found table. Image courtesy Jules Lister