19 Pigs, More or Less


7.625" × 8"

risograph print, photographs, fortune cookie, binder clips, red thread

filed in: 2019 Print Books

19 Pigs, More or Less is a collection of photographs, recipes, menus, and other printed ephemera documenting three happenings staged around the Chinese New Year in 2019.

Attendees included acquaintances, friends, and strangers. The happenings occurred on February 9, February 17, and February 24. Each participant was instructed to carefully read and follow a list of instructions at the beginning of each event. Appetizers—lotus chips, turnip cake, steamed fish—were served to begin.

various printed images, drawings, and photographs lay on a red velvet with light streaking over it
a green and red poster with 19 pig emoji images pasted in random orientation
an arrangement of all printed matter documenting the 19 Pigs event in 2019
menus from the 19 Pigs event in 2019. They are printed in red and green ink.

The project was an experiment in behavior, tradition, and rule-following. The first set of instructions—"1. Draw a Pig / 2. If you'd like, draw another"—were simple, but acted as an entryway to witness the flexibility and willingness of each participant to follow instruction. Some sought to be creative within their interpretations of the rule, some were quick to move past the regulation, some indulged in multiple drawings.

a drawing of a pig and a piece of paper that states "1. draw a pig 2 if you'd like, draw another"
12 drawings of pigs drawn by attendees of the 19 Pigs event

Because it was the year of the pig, the second set of instructions were inspired by the themes of overconsumption and massproduction from rolling countless scallion pancakes, to pulling noodles. While the idea of massproduction may hold negative connotations, the celebration of New Years is one that instead honors a feeling of abundance.

a sheet of instructions that start with "1. fold a dumpling 2. Make it different . . ."
paperclipped sheets of paper that list instructions on how to cook various Chinese dishes
various people gathered rolling out dough to cook scallion pancakes
various people gathered around a table rolling, wrapping, and making dumplings
a pile of pots, pans, plates, and a wok

The third set of instructions were identical at every event. Every guest was instructed to plate and photograph their own meal. Asking each guest to arrange and photograph their plate brought an awareness to the notion of life as a series of personal curations. Their palette was limited only by their own bodies.

Focus was again brought to the theme of overconsumption as any food that a participant could not finish eating would have to be thrown away.

6 photographs of various scallion pancake dishes plated by attendees of the 19 Pigs event
4 photographs of different dumpling dishes plated by attendees of the 19 Pigs event

The fourth set of instructions brought a mindfulness to the inherent trust and intimacy in the act of preparing food for others. Each participant made dessert items in a certain color or configuration, but was barred from eating any dessert items with that same color or configuration. Each participant had to trust that their fellow guests would be cognizant enough to make their desserts for them.

The fifth and final set of instructions asked for each participant to reflect on the entire experience and asked the simple question of “more or less?”

The answers were overwhelmingly “more.”

two side by side slips of paper that say "Happiness" and "Self-consciousness"
broken fortune cookie with the fortune reading "Give more. Give less. You will achieve balance"