Throw a Dinner Party with This Creepy Tableware and Watch Everyone Run Away


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Throw a Dinner Party with This Creepy Tableware and Watch Everyone Run Away

Ronit Baranga's tableware appears to have mysteriously sprouted body parts—fingers, mouths, teeth, tongues, even a baby's cheeks—and questions our assumptions about the usefulness of objects. It's also supremely unsettling.

Ronit Baranga might not mean to point fingers, but her work certainly does. For the last several years, the Israeli ceramicist has been making artworks that look at first glance like tableware, but that question our assumptions about the usefulness of objects. They also tend to unsettle the hell out of people in the process.

Like a Jan Švankmajer film come to life, Baranga's tableware appears to have mysteriously sprouted body parts—fingers, mouths, teeth, tongues, even a baby's cheeks—as though a drunk geneticist had somehow spliced a set of Wedgewood china with human DNA. Clearly, this takes something away from the typical dining experience.


Teapots look like they're scurrying away from midday service, and teacups with metastasized mouths appear to be drowning in the very liquid they're supposed to contain. Plates, with gently parted lips, demand to be fed—and maybe not just food.


My God. Is the china having sex with itself?

To find out more, I contacted Baranga and asked her to speak on behalf of her ceramic mouths, and to see if you can ever have dinner with dinnerware that's as hungry as you.


MUNCHIES: Hi, Ronit. So, what's the deal with the body parts? Ronit Baranga: The fingers and the mouth are the most sensual organs in the human body, and are therefore very powerful as separated items from it. The "seamless" combination of these organs in plates or cups, appearing as one, creates, in my opinion, new items that "feel" their environment and respond to it.

Moreover, I see the mouth as an opening to a deeper, internal space.


How did these works come about? The inspiration for the series of works dealing with tableware came from art school. Dealing with clay in the ceramics department was not considered [high art] in the eyes of the art teachers. It was regarded as "craft" and not "art." Even in the Ceramics Department, we weren't allowed to make plates and cups. The concept was to make art with the clay. This had a great influence on me. Later, I chose to deal exactly with that subject—sculpting art about useful tableware.


You've written that your work "decides on its own how to behave in the situation." What do you mean by that? The work offers a new point of view of what we take for granted. The ceramic tableware is only a metaphor. I think that this metaphor of self-feeding, screaming, running-away tableware is very powerful. This modification of the useful, obvious tableware affects us, attracts or deters us, and hopefully, causes us to think.

self feeding01
self feeding02

Doesn't adding mouths and fingers to plates and cups make them inherently less useful? That's exactly the idea—however, they now have their own new purpose.

running bowls01

Have you ever served food on these pieces? Only once, in a big family holiday meal. I used a set of six bowls on fingers. The set was placed in the center of the table, containing different types of food as part of the traditional religious ceremony; the bowls were used as a Passover plate. This was an installation that expressed the tension between the participants of the large, meaningful, family meal. The bowls were placed on the table as if they have started to scatter and drift apart from each other in an attempt to escape from the social situation in which they are obligated to take part in.

Regardless, the evening went very well. Everybody had a great time and no one—except the bowls—wanted to run away from the table.


Thanks for speaking to me, Ronit.