70 x 7 The Meal, act XXXIV

About The Project


Lucy + Jorge Orta

Completion Date

5 October 2013


Municipal Services Building, Thomas Paine Plaza

70 x 7 The Meal, act XXXIV, photo by Steve Weinik

Marking its 30th-year anniversary, Mural Arts is looking back at its history and looking forward with this participatory project that explores the social and experimental dimension of art in public space. 70 x 7 The Meal, act XXXIV takes the future of Mural Arts beyond a genre-specific format and expands on the social and civic foundation of the mural tradition by addressing the relationship between local communities, regional ecologies, global economies, and the politics of food production.

70 x 7 The Meal, act XXXIV was a collaboration between Mural Arts and internationally renowned, Paris-based artists, Lucy + Jorge Orta. This 34th in the Orta's ongoing series of ritual meals staged throughout the world, gathered a diverse group of people around a communal table to meet, discuss and debate the politics of food production and the role heirloom foods can play in creating a healthier ecology and food system.

70 x 7 The Meal, act XXXIV, a visual and performative work of public art, was free to the 900 invited, seated participants who gathered in the heart of Philadelphia. 70 x 7 The Meal, act XXXIV served a sampling of heirloom produce created by consulting chef Marc Vetri and catered by Cescaphe Event Group.

The menu for 70 x 7 The Meal, act XXXIV was:

  • Fennel and parmesan gratin
  • Squash caponata with raisins and pine nuts
  • Traditional bagna cauda with potatoes, purple carrots, fennel, and chicory
  • Haricots vert and red fingerling potato.

I am pleased to work with the Mural Arts Program, which I have admired for many years. I care deeply about food access and food quality, and am very interested to see the conversations that arise from this project.

- Marc Vetri, 70 x 7 The Meal, act XXXIV consulting chef

The heirloom ingredients was supplied by Lancaster Farm Fresh, a cooperative of local farms in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania; Heritage Farm, located on the Methodist Home for Children’s Philadelphia campus; and Glenn Brendle of Green Meadow Farm in Gap, Pennsylvania.

70 x 7 The Meal, act XXXIV took place as part of Mural Arts’ What We Sow project and during Mural Arts Month (October 2013) which is the kickoff to the year-long 30th Anniversary Celebration for the organization.


One element of the performative aspect of 70 x 7 The Meal, act XXXIV was a communal dialogue guests were asked to initiate and join at the table. Seated among diverse diners from across the Greater Philadelphia area and beyond, participants were prompted to discuss issues of food advocacy centered around heirloom produce and GMOs. One goal of this was to initiate conversation on vital issues; another was to catalyze learning and spread awareness.

Afterward, we asked guests and volunteers to share highlights from their conversations, or to comment on The Meal, on comment cards and in an online survey. Here is what some have been saying:

“I never really considered heirloom fruits and vegetables of being an important topic before this event.”

“It was a highly meaningful event, and I appreciated especially the inclusivity.  What else speaks to our identities as Philadelphians more than sitting at a table between a Mennonite farmer and a woman who just finished her shift at McDonalds? Beautiful, redemptive, much-appreciated event.”

“[The Meal] reinforced notions of how public art has vast potential for bringing awareness of need for social change.”

“I’ve been working in the farming world for over 15 years as a farmer and educator, and this type of event warms my heart and soul. Thank you for this magical collaboration. YUM!”

“Hospitality is public art and it builds strong communities and positive civic energy.”


In addition to 70 x 7 The Meal, act XXXIV taking place at the Municipal Services Building, Thomas Paine Plaza, Mural Arts also reached out to restaurants, organizations that feed the hungry, and individual families to take 70 x 7 The Meal, act XXXIV to their own dining tables. Through kits containing lengths of the table runner designed by the Ortas and heirloom produce and recipes, participants of the citywide effort had the opportunity to produce heirloom meals on their own.

The goal of this expanded citywide effort was to engage a broader audience throughout the city, especially those who were not able to attend 70 x 7 The Meal, act XXXIV at its location in Center City. Working in partnership with SHARE Food Program to assemble and distribute free kits that fed more than 400 individuals, recipients included Face to Face in Germantown, Sunday Supper in Norris Square, and the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society’s City Harvest program.

In addition, a selection of local restaurants created special heirloom menus for the evening of Saturday, October 5, and used a piece of the Orta designed table runner at their own locations.

Participating restaurants included:

4630 Baltimore Ave, Philadelphia, PA 19143
(267) 275-8195

Circles Thai
812 N 2nd St, Philadelphia, PA 19123
(267) 687-1309

8705 Germantown Ave, Philadelphia, PA 19118
(215) 242-2700

La Calaca Feliz
2321 Fairmount Ave, Philadelphia, PA 19130
(215) 787-9930

120 S 17th St, Philadelphia, PA 19103
(215) 569-8300

Marathon Grill
121 S 16th St, Philadelphia, PA 19102
(215) 569-3278

Standard Tap
901 N 2nd St, Philadelphia, PA 19123
(215) 238-0630


Of the roughly 900 seats at The Meal, one quarter were open to the public through a lottery system. Philadelphia residents were invited to attend What We Sow events throughout the summer, and at each event had the opportunity to enter their name into the lottery for a chance to win two seats at The Meal. The remaining seats were distributed by Mural Arts and project and community partners to share with their respective audiences. The Meal was intended to bring together a diverse cross-section of Philadelphia in order to discuss heirloom food and food culture and share in the communal act of dining. 

Previous stagings of 70 x 7 The Meal, act XXXIV:

Lucy and Jorge Orta are renowned for creating multi-disciplinary works of art that explore critical social and ecological needs and systems. They first conceived of the 70x7 The Meal, communal table event in 2000 as a way to directly engage their audiences in the public art-making process, and to highlight dialogue as a central part of their social practice.


Lucy Orta was born in Sutton Coldfield, UK in 1966 and Jorge Orta was born in Rosario, Argentina in 1953. They founded Studio Orta Paris in 1991. 

Lucy + Jorge Orta collaborative practice focuses on a number of sustainability issues tackling the ecological and the social factors to realise major bodies of work employing a number of mediums ranging from drawing, sculpture, installation, object making, couture, painting, silkscreen printing and Light Works, as well as staging workshops, ephemeral interventions and performances. The most emblematic series are: Refuge Wear: and Body Architecture: portable minimum habitats bridging architecture and dress; HortiRecycling: the food chain in global and local contexts; 70 x 7 The Meal: the ritual of dining and its role in community networking; The Gift: a metaphor for the heart and the biomedical ethics of organ donation; OrtaWater: the general scarcity of this vital resource and the problems arising from its pollution and corporate control; Antarctica: international human rights and freer international migration;Amazonia: the value of the natural environment to our daily lives and to our survival. 

The Ortas’ artwork has been the focus of major solo exhibitions, including: The Curve, Barbican Art Gallery London and OrtaWater, Fondazione Bevilacqua La Masa Venice (2005), Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen Rotterdam (2006), and Galleria Continua Beijing / San Gimignano / Le Moulin (2007–8); Antarctica, Biennial of the End of the World, Ushuaia, Antarctic Peninsula (2007), and Hangar Bicocca spazio d’arte Milan (2008); Amazonia, Natural History Museum London (2010). In 2007, the artists received the Green Leaf Award for artistic excellence with an environmental message, presented by the United Nations Environment Programme in partnership with the Natural World Museum at the Nobel Peace Center in Oslo, Norway.

Parallel and feeding into their practice Lucy + Jorge Orta are developing a cultural heritage regeneration program along the Grand Morin river, Marne-la-Vallée in the former industrial sites of La Laiterie (Dairy) since 2000, the Moulin de Boissy and the Moulin Sainte-Marie, two historical paper mills, since 2007 and 2009, respectively. They have relocated their studios from Paris and have founded Les Moulins, a non-profit research centre for interdisciplinary workshops and residencies to promote the creation and presentation of experimental in-situ artworks.


70 x 7 The Meal, act XXXIV is catered by:

Heirloom produce for 70 x 7 The Meal, act XXXIV is provided by:

Bread is provided by The Restaurant School at Walnut Hill College


Agatston Urban Nutrition Initiative
The Alliance Française de Philadelphie  
Bartram’s Garden
Beechwood Orchards
Cescaphe Event Group
Colligas Family ShopRite
Face to Face
Fair Food
m to City 
The Food Trust
Greater Philadelphia Coalition Against Hunger
Green Meadow Farm
Greensgrow Farms
Grid Magazine
Growing Home Garden 
Happy Cat Farm
Heritage Farm
Independence National Historical Park


  Independence Visitor Center Corporation
Lancaster Farm Fresh Cooperative
Mill Creek Farm
Moore College of Art & Design
Nationalities Service Center
Norris Square Neighborhood Project
Philly Seed Exchange
Pennsylvania Horticultural Society
SHARE Food Program
Mill Creek Farm
Norris Square Neighborhood Project
Philly Seed Exchange
Reading Terminal Market
The Restaurant School at Walnut Hill College
Sunday Suppers
Three Springs Fruit Farm
The Vetri Family
Whole Foods Market