Around the Table is a facilitated dinner party with directives. It offers people a chance to be more physically and emotionally aware before a challenging discussion unfolds. Guests are guided to attend to the needs of others by remaining in a state of openness so they discover a deeper approach to preserving social bonds through conversation.

During a residency at ZK/U Berlin, Zoya shared a five course meal which included a fusion of dishes from cultural identities who participated in The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), also known as the Iran Deal during 2015. In addition to having an open mind and a desire for nourishment, guests were asked to write reflections in response to questions between each course.

On the paper placemats each question was translated into Farsi, Chinese, Russian, French, Italian, and German. Reflections are meant to be used as talking points for discussions. Oftentimes it is easier to look at one’s thoughts before saying it out loud. The traces of handwritten reflections illustrate the feelings of guest’s experiences. In some cases words were not necessary.

First Course Manti-Jiaozi Dumplings

What is an ideal environment to form mutual understanding?

Second Course: Salad Olivieh and Barbari Bread

Have you ever been in a situation where accessing resources was restricted?

Third Course: Maast o Moosir and Haricots Verts Salade

Would you describe an unethical dilemma in which you were involved, but did not have agency to respond?

Fourth Course: Polpette and Mirza Ghasemi

Under which circumstances do you experience joy in sharing values?

Fifth Course: Rote Grütze, Fereni, and Chai

How do you want to be loved?
A heartfelt thank you is extended to Fatemeh Takhtkeshian, Echo Tang, Hanna Kholad, John Porter, Caterina Izzo, and Maryam Geranmayeh for improving how the questions were framed in English while translating them for this project.