How to turn your picnic into a time-machine…

“On April 23, 1983, around 100 people sat down to a French feast in the grounds of a chateau near Versailles. On the menu: pigs’ ears, tail and trotters, smoked udders, tripe and a host of dishes not for the faint-hearted.

“Towards the end of the meal at the domaine du Montcel in Jouy-en-Josas, a whistle was blown and the merry throng downed knives and forks and buried the remains of the banquet in its entirety in a pre-dug 40-yard-long trench.

“Behind the exercise was a Swiss artist named Daniel Spoerri, a key figure in a movement called Eat Art. Dubbed Déjeuner sous l’herbe (Underground Lunch), the meal’s aim was to create a “banquet-performance” to explore the nature of time and the present.

“Today, 27 years later, a group of French scientists have brought the artistic event back to life by exhuming the meal, this time with the serious aim of testing the latest archaeological techniques. Slowly, bits of tablecloth, bottles and cutlery are once again seeing the light of day as they are carefully brushed free of earth. A dozen laboratories are involved in the dig, which is opened to the public today on national archaeology day.

“Mr Spoerri, now 80, and several of his original picnic guests were present this week to oversee the excavation of their gargantuan meal. He discovered that the bottles and plates were still intact but the tables had all but vanished. He also swore that they had not used plastic cups, but these re-surfaced almost as good as new. The artist intends to take a mould of the excavated picnic: It will then be reburied “for future generations”.”

- Henry Samuel, Paris, Daily Telegraph

Thank you very much to Simon Fielding.

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