How photography and food is creating community around the world.
When Casey Kelbaugh invited a group of friends over for a potluck dinner and a slideshow in 2000, it’s unlikely he realized he was starting a global phenomenon. He didn’t know me then, and he also didn’t know that twelve years later, we’d be spending the weekend in Bogota, Colombia to produce that same event, but on a much, much larger scale.
Slideluck (formerly Slideluck Potshow), the mash-up name of “slideshow” and “potluck,” was the title appropriately given to the event that Casey started that evening in Seattle. The framework for each event is simple: the host presents a curated slideshow of art, and the guests bring the food. But every Slideluck in every city—and there are nearly fifty cities now holding Slideluck events worldwide—has its own flavor, informed by its local culture, and the production team. Slideluck events have happened everywhere from De Oude Kerk (The Old Church) in Amsterdam; to Bathhouse Studios (an old bathhouse-turned-photo-studio that was flipped by the late photojournalist Eddie Adams) in New York; to Casa Sin Fin, the studio that hosted the Slideluck we produced in Bogota on October 6 of this year.
The work featured at each event varies from city to city as well. Each city opens submissions to the public at large, with each artist submitting 15-40 images through a photo portfolio site called Viewbook. Approximately 20 slideshows are featured at each Slideluck, with half or more of those entries coming from the open call. Professionals from art publications, museums, and foundations often serve as the guest curators for each event, and they may also invite certain artists to participate. The result is an evening of diverse and exciting slideshow presentations—all set to music. The participating artists run the gamut from well-known names like Shepard Fairey and Gregory Crewdson to artists presenting their work publicly for the first time.
The food, though, is frequently the biggest surprise of a Slideluck. The dinner, like the slideshow portion of the evening, comes from an open call. All attendees are asked to bring a dish, and at Slideluck we are consistently impressed by our guests’ culinary expertise. We’re not talking bags of Ruffles and a canned onion dip, here—we’re talking full main-course casseroles, pork loins, elaborate salads, beautiful desserts, and treasured family recipes. Slideluck makes an effort to archive these recipes, and also to reward those guests who go above and beyond in their dishes. Attendees with the best potluck contributions are often awarded a special prize, be it a subscription to Viewbook, or at our event in San Francisco this past Wednesday, a free bike from Globe.
The event we held in Bogotá on October 6 held its fair share of surprises. The city enjoyed a gorgeous, sunny day—a treat, for the City of Eternal Fall. By 4 p.m., the sound booths were fully wired and tested, ready for the arrival of DJ Luisa Sanchez and the Jazz Trio. The venue’s brand new 3000-lumen projector was set to make its premiere at the event. The slideshows had been reviewed three times and were ready to be played. The beer was cooling at the bar, and tables sat ready and waiting for guests. Posters and signs with the Slideluck logo were everywhere. It was official: the venue had transformed from a Bogota studio and gallery to a Slideluck event space.
But at 6 p.m., half an hour before the doors were to be opened to the public, Bogotá was struck with a torrential downpour. The water began to run down the wires of the electronic equipment, including the brand new projector. Water began to flood the studio where presentations were planned to take place. All computers had to be shut down and disconnected from their power sources to avoid an electrical hazard. Location of equipment had to be thrown out the window. Our plans, organization, and logistics all had to adapt.
And that’s where the magic of Slideluck kicked in. Everyone involved with Slideluck is there because they care about community, food, art, and in building a better world. Our team of volunteers kept cool heads, stayed calm, and through their hard work, we salvaged all of the equipment and ran an event that despite being 30 minutes behind schedule, was seamless to the public.
Guests enjoyed a robust potluck dinner, furnished in part by a local culinary school, and the Bogotá Beer Company supplied us with a delicious selection of brews for the evening to help wash it down.
As a reminder of Slideluck’s international community, we projected images of Slidelucks across the world, and the jazz trio picked up for an added layer of ambience. Before we knew it, our own Slideluck, similar to those we were watching on the screen, had come to life. That evening, the slideshows ranged from the evocative photography of Laura Vasquez to stirring portraits by Diana Beltran. For the full hour of the slideshow, no one flinched. Cell phones went silent. Applause and cheers for the artists followed each slideshow. It was a celebration of art, of food, and of being together.
The basis of Slideluck—a meal, paired with a slideshow—is something that bridges diverse communities across all of our locations. Regardless of nationality, language, culture, race, or religion, food and art are constants. At these events, there is something that transcends a clever event format and even an innovative potluck dish: the forming of interpersonal relationships. The result is a more well-fed community, in every sense of the phrase.
In your community, you too can be a part of Slideluck! There are a number of opportunities available across the world, whether it’s directing a Slideluck in your own community (check out the Slideluck website for a list of local chapters), volunteering at an event, or contributing your work for a slideshow. The Slideluck community is growing every day.
Sunday, November 11: SLIDELUCK Washington, D.C. VIII
Sunday, November 11: SLIDELUCK London Retrospective Preview (Brighton)
Thursday, January 24: SLIDELUCK Savannah, GA
Written by Andres Ronderos, Director of SLIDELUCK POTSHOW Bogota II, and Lila Allen, SLIDELUCK Global Producer