Catlin Nolan

Interactive cookies and scares

A baking show and an augmented reality game at the online Fertile Ground festival of new works mix viewing with performing

Interactive art has the power to blur the line between audience and performer—or even turn an audience member into a performer. That’s what happens during Fold in Gently: Recipes for Friendship and Forgiveness (and Fucking Up) and RE: Lilith Lopez, two inventive entries in this year’s Fertile Ground festival that could not have existed if the festival hadn’t gone virtual.


ONLINE FESTIVAL: FERTILE GROUND 2021


Fold in Gently is a podcast-style performance that was dreamed up by Elsa Dougherty and Rachel Wells. While not all post-COVID 19 podcasts are created equal (Sir Roger Deakins may be a brilliant cinematographer, but he should stay away off the airwaves), Dougherty and Wells have cooked up something ingenious—a communal experience that is as much about memory as it is about food.

“Fold in Gently”: cookies and advice. Photo: Mantel media

Fold in Gently offers a crash course in baking chocolate chip cookies. I was relieved when I realized that I had all of the necessary ingredients (thank god I bought cornstarch!) and when I managed to avoid mangling the cookies, which had a rich, vanilla-y flavor that contrasted delectably with the semisweet chocolate chips I dumped into the batter.

In between talking you through the recipe, Dougherty and Wells interview guests about food-centric recollections. A man recalls devouring a bag of sugar cookies; a woman remembers her deceased brother’s passion for cheese potatoes. For Dougherty and Wells, food isn’t just about consumption. It’s about aging, love and rituals.

Continues…