PER LA MENTE

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Nightfishing: Art-Inspired Dining

Experiences

Carly Pifer | November 16, 2018
Enter a world where artist Isis Hockenos’s touch has fine-tuned every detail down to the plates.

Isis Hockenos has been immersed in art since birth. The daughter of two artists, she grew up in a small town full of creative people escaping San Francisco rents in West Marin, California. Her colorful childhood is the inspiration for her immersive dining event, Nightfishing. 

Join PerLaMente and enter Hockenos’ enchanted art world. The way to this creative experience is through the belly.

Nightfishing was held in a small gallery brimming with Hockenos’ colorful paintings, each referencing imagery from her hometown. The meal’s servers, who appeared to have just stepped out of the paintings, looked like characters that could be traced back to works of art, with painted faces and full costumes. They acted as food-bearers but also performed for the guests, reenacting scenes from Hockenos’ work, such as rowing a fisherman’s boat and pantomiming the plucking of a chicken.

The meal’s music was sourced from a playlist months in the making and also included live performances by several musicians. Hockenos wanted the mood to be Gothic Americana: dark ballads and marches to suggest the feeling of autumn and the sense of approaching winter, with a little Italian and Latin American folk music thrown in to conjure the harvest bounty. The evening concluded with a singalong rendition of Tom Waits’ “Come on Up to the House,” the lyrics of which were printed on the back of the menus.

photo by Melati Citrawireja

And the menu? Cultivated directly from the source of her inspiration, Hockenos worked with producers in West Marin, choosing seasonal cuisine with an emphasis on the visual effect of food on her painted plates. The meal included four courses—oysters, a colorful tomato salad, rabbit with porcini and chanterelle, and an heirloom melon dessert—each a work of art in themselves.

photo by Melati Citrawireja

Carly Pifer is a writer based in Brooklyn. Her work has appeared in publications including Brooklyn Magazine, Refinery29, and VICE Motherboard. She never misses an opportunity for a costume party and knows the best burger in New York is at a hole-in-the-wall Pakistani joint in Bushwick.

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