The Identical Lunch

Over winter break I went to  a really cool performance art event at the Museum of Modern Art.  The artist, Alison Knowles, was resurrecting a piece she’d done in the 60s called The Identical Lunch.  Back then, she ate the same lunch every day for a year and invited other people (her fellow Fluxus artists,  friends, and sometimes even strangers) to eat the same thing with her. Then she would ask them to write about the experience.  The lunch was wheat toast with butter, tuna and lettuce, no mayo, with a cup of soup or buttermilk.
The day I ate the lunch, there was a reporter from the NY Times covering it and here’s his reporting on our Identical Lunch.  It was pretty funny because a waiter came around to each of us to take our orders, but, there was very little choice involved – buttermilk or soup?

The sandwich was really yummy! A fancy chef had prepared it with really good tuna and olives and lemon juice.  The buttermilk, what can I say? The man next to me at the table ate half of his sandwich and then confessed that he  was a vegetarian and the tuna had been his first fish in ten years!  He looked a bit queasy, although that could have been the buttermilk too.

After we ate, Alison went behind the counter at the MOMA cafeteria and liquified an Identical Lunch in a blender.  She poured it into cups and served it to us and everyone actually tried it!

Once lunch was over, Alison took us into the Contemporary Galleries to look at photographs of people who had experienced the Identical Lunch in the 1960’s

The absolutely wonderful piece below the photographs is by Alison’s friend, George Maciunas.  It consists of artfully arranged food containers of everything he ate for one year in the 1960’s.  Awesome.

I wonder whether I could get all of my students to share an identical snack?  What could it be?


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