The Sin Eaters’ debut performance was in The Co-Prosperity Sphere gallery in Chicago. This three-day cycle of work illustrated the process of sin-eating between bodies in American culture by means of iconic foods.
Friday Night: Comfort Food
Comfort Food presented the audience with the buffet options of green bean casserole, corn on the cob, and spaghetti with tomato sauce. These foods usually conjure nostalgia or sentimental feelings. With The Sin Eaters though, nothing is safe.
Before the performance could begin, audience members needed to write down a personal, anonymous sin that they had committed on small paper plates. They then would request a given comfort food to accompany their sin, and the plates would accumulate on the banquet table.
Once the table was full, The Sin Eaters went on a feeding frenzy into ingest all of the comfort food, announcing each anonymous sin to the crowd as they went. By taking in these sins, The Sin Eaters were absolving the transgressions of the audience: the sin was in them now.
Saturday Night: Peccadillo Pie
Peccadillo Pie had The Sin Eaters engorging on their own little sins within the trio. The first 36 audience members were given papers in the shape of pie slices where they could write a topic for a sin. It was their choice as to which of The Sin Eaters received their slice, which they wrote a personal sin of their own based on the topic. These personal peccadillo slices were then placed at the bottom of one of three pie tins reserved for each eater.
When a pie tin was full of written sin, a real pie was placed on top–either a homemade blueberry, lemon meringue, or cherry pie made by The Sin Eaters. The performance began when all nine pies were placed on the tables, those tables moved into a triangle enclosing The Sin Eaters, and the pie-eating competition triangle was rung.
During a series of intense timed trials, The Sin Eaters devoured through each of the nine pies and then recited whatever text was revealed underneath the crust. Eventually, each of The Sin Eaters had every pie on their faces and in their stomachs along with a mixed chorus of their own sins on their tongues.
After two days, they had ingested the sins of an entire audience as well as their own sins. They were pie-eyed on confession, to say the least.
Sunday Morning: Pareidolia Picnic
Pareidolia Picnic was set Sunday morning as a palette cleanser for The Sin Eaters and a challenge to the audience. Pareidolia is the phenomenon of seeing faces in surrounding architecture, inanimate objects, and nature. The Sin Eaters decided to apply this concept to their grilled cheese eating competition for the picnic–but rather than finding the Virgin Mary, the participants discovered that the profiles of each of The Sin Eaters were on their sandwiches.
These participants raced to eat their sandwiches in the fastest time. The first-place eater received a gift certificate at a local cheese shop to make their own sandwiches.
The top three eaters were required to recite the sin that was on their plate–a personal sin of one of The Sin Eaters. In doing so, these grilled cheese eaters devoured the sins of The Sin Eaters, thereby absolving Moe, Kellen, and Mike of the sin they ingested during the course of the previous two nights.
In essence, this cycle showed that sin can be a transfer between bodies through the ritual of sin eating. Everyone can sin, devour, and absolve for anyone. The question is whether we are strong enough as a culture to belly up to the banquet table.