Imagine an evening where the food you eat is part of an art performance. An evening packed with colours, fairytales and random acts of love. Welcome to the world of Nathalie Stiphout. Welcome to the Art of Sushi.
Based in Amsterdam, artist Nathalie has developed her unique performances into an experience for your taste-buds and your soul. ‘The Art of Purification’ is the name of her current peformance (all in English) and Nathalie has traveled all over the Netherlands and even Denmark, arranging one-off nights for a wide variety of customers. ‘It’s really very mixed, very different. It could be 50 ladies from Den Haag all dressed in Chanel but then the next week a mixed group from an ad agency’ (She recently put on a performance for Amsterdam’s KesselsKramer).
The evening is based around a fairytale story written by Nathalie and the search for the elixir of life. It also features a menu of exquisite sushi. ‘Sushi was the obvious choice because it is so beautiful. It’s small colourful objects containing incredible detail. Plus it is something I trained in so I feel comfortable in preparing high-quality sushi (Nathalie used to run the sushi stall at the cult Amsterdam venue The Winston).
A typical evening can last up to 3 hours with the performance taking about 60 minutes and the rest filled with the food and sometimes a DJ to continue the mood. The performance itself is very sensual and expressive. Apart from the narrator, Nathalie is the only performer and she not only acts out the fairytale storyline but also interacts with each individual guest. Her amazing costumes are made by Thu Xuan To and Amsterdam artist/fashion designer Aico Dinkla.
Throughout the performance she hands out objects created by her which include necklaces made from gold thread and beautiful envelopes containing mystery ingredients. ‘The idea is that everyone goes home with an object they can keep. I suppose you could say the audience receive emotionally and physically’. It feels strongly feminine. Do the sexes react to it differently? ‘Naturally, women respond but the men also. It’s the subtlety that they like. I also deliberately cast the narrator as a man as I wanted the words to have more presence and solidity.
So how did Nathalie start? ‘Well I’m first and foremost an artist (she studied at the prestigious Gerrit Rietveld Academie) and I began working on installations – which I really enjoyed. But I have a passion also for cooking and food and it seemed a good idea to put the two worlds together. It started small but I’ve gradually built everything up. But this idea just keep developing and growing.
I’m currently working on making a book from the fairytale with one-off pieces if art. I’m hoping the book will be about more than just the fairytale, I would like it to reflect elements of my own character and vision. I’d also like it to feel like a special thing – something people will treasure. That’s what I am working on. I’m looking into subsidies and grants so I can produce it properly. The other dream is to take the performance to Japan because I would love to see how it would be received there. I think ‘Art of Purification’ has the aesthetic and atmosphere of Japan but the romanticism of the West. The whole fineness and subtleness that the Japanese have, appeals to me very much. I love their attention to fine details. So, that’s another big plan for the future.’