Soup & Tart: Broadcast
April 17 - 24

Just one month ago, mere days remained before our planned gathering at a downtown Los Angeles loft with fifty artists and six chefs to re-imagine Jean Dupuy's Soup & Tart, when public life ground to a halt. Soup & Tart: Los Angeles awaits its revival in the uncertain future but the project still inspires us—especially now as we turn to reflect, from our individual pods, on what constitutes the lifeblood of an artistic community, how ideas find their pathways, and how restrictions spark ingenuity.

An offering for the time we're apart, Active Cultures brings you an online screening of the rarely-seen video documentation of Jean Dupuy's Soup & Tart, held at The Kitchen in New York on November 30, 1974, shared from the archives of seminal video art non-profit Electronic Arts Intermix. The video is available for viewing for the period of one-week during which we invite you to dive back into the singular moment of 1974 New York—a time marked by a boiling over of artistic activity, aptly captured in this frenzied, hilarious, and eclectic tape.

Read more about the history of Soup & Tart below.


Performers (in order of appearance): Joanne Akalaitis (1:45), Kate Parker and Charles Atlas (2:45), Robert Breer (5:37), Jean Dupuy (7:07), Jon Gibson (7:42), Philip Glass (10:04), Jean Dupuy and Deedee Halleck (11:32), Jana Haimsohn (13:51), Joan Jonas (16:49), Olga Kluver (18:44), Richard Landry (19:20), Tony Mascatello (21:09), Gordon Matta-Clark (22:45), Joan Schwartz and Donald Monroe (24:04), Carl Paler (27:18), Charlemagne Palestine (30:28), Yvonne Rainer (31:13), Arthur Russell (37:05), Alan Saret (38:47), Sylvia Palacios Whitman (40:45), Richard Serra (42:42), Nancy Topf (46:44), David Warrilow (48:38), Sylvia Palacios Whitman, Part 2 (50:12), Hannah Wilke (50:01).

This program is organized by Los Angeles-based interdisciplinary performance organizer Sarah Cooper, who conceived Soup & Tart, Los Angeles with Active Cultures, which was postponed in March 2020.

Jean Depuy, Soup & Tart, 1974-75. Black and white film with sound, 55:45 minutes.
Courtesy Electronic Arts Intermix (EAI), New York.


By 1974, Fluxus-affiliated artist Jean Dupuy had been hosting parties in his loft, where the denizens of SoHo's artist colony would make impromptu performative contributions to the night. Asked to host one of his infamous nights at The Kitchen, he immediately thought to cook and make it a big dinner where artists would intervene. "Or," he said, "was it a childhood memory? At a party at my grandfather's house, at the end of the family meal, the children took turns performing a small performance: my sister recited a poem, I sang a song... I therefore proposed to forty artists to perform short performances: two minutes in turn and during a dinner."

At The Kitchen, soup, apple tarts (their baking time synchronized to the performances so they could be eaten exactly 8 minutes after leaving the oven, per Dupuy), bread, and wine were served to thirty-eight artists sitting cross-legged in front of long rolls of paper used as placemats on the ground. This was a casual, chaotic night—one that fell somewhere between a town hall, a dinner party, and the large-scale poetry readings popularized by John Giorno (whose still-running annual New Year's Day Poetry Marathon debuted a month later). Many of the artists were on the cusp of careers that would see the role of the artist professionalize and the art world grow into a blue-chip economy.

Lines bent around Wooster and Broome Streets as a way-over-capacity crowd of 300 turned out to watch. An unknown curmudgeon (among those turned away at the door) falsely reported a fire. Once the firefighters left after finding no smoke, the police arrived, responding to a called-in bomb threat, but they too quickly departed. The soup, tarts, and performances continued on.

The Kitchen's director at the time, Robert Stearns, recalled how just a few years later they never would have gotten away with that. "It was endless," Stearns said of the night. "It went on for hours and it was wonderful. The soup and tarts were really good too. And we actually cooked them in the kitchen, we had a kitchen on the floor there. It was a period of time where there was a lot of activity going on and almost the easiest thing in the world is to open your door and say, 'Here, come and do it over here.'"

The eye of the authorities had only just begun to turn downtown and take notice of what was going on in the otherwise ignored district. Soon things at The Kitchen would have to come up to code, fire departments paid off, and liquor licenses obtained as it grew more organized and institutionalized. At the very same time, the critic's eye had turned toward this community of artists as well, with The Kitchen's performances popping up not only in The Village Voice and Soho News, but in The New York Times, which as Phillip Glass noted in one interview, infamously didn't review performances below 14th Street until around this time. Of this "anthology of very brief events," The Times wrote of Soup & Tart, "some were quite stunning," and the event "could certainly be complained about, but there were enough nice things to make one almost forget the discomfort and the longueurs."

What would you do in just two minutes? Soup & Tart is a testament to artistic ingenuity. It asks, "What is possible under confinement?" It also chronicles a community that was in an accelerated environment of sharing—one that resonates for us in the cross-pollinating creative landscape of Los Angeles, and which is now finding new footing online. The open-ended sense of celebration, and the feast, at the heart of Soup & Tart, reminds us of the potential for the interconnectivity we need to embrace and protect.