One Grain of Rice

We walked into the exhibition space and we were surrounded by mountains of rice that had been carefully poured onto various sizes of white paper. The performance “Of All The People In All The World” is currently appearing in New York City for the first time until January 20, 2008. It is presented by Stan’s Café, one of the U.K’s most innovative theatre companies.

A single grain of rice represents one person. Over a period of days a team of performers weigh out quantities of rice to represent different statistics. The piles portray the number of doctors, the number of soldiers, the number of millionaires, the number of people born each day and the number who die. The statistics are arranged in labeled piles and the exhibit changes as it travels the world.

So far there has been a single presentation “Of All The People In All The World” in which the whole world’s population was represented by 104 tons of rice in Stuttgart.

It was fascinating to wander around the numerous mounds of rice that continued to change as the performers added new statistics.

At first glance all of the grains of rice appear to be the same, but upon closer examination there are slight differences in color and shape.

It was easy to imagine being in the pile of rice representing people in New York who take public transportation or New Yorkers who walk to work.

If each grain of rice represents one person, where would you be in the pile? Are you at the very top, in the middle, at the bottom or off to the side away from the crowd? Perhaps you have your own piece of white display paper and label like Bill Gates or Robert DeNiro.

How many different piles would you be in?

Hopefully you will start to see people differently. I will never look at a grain of rice the same way again.

Enjoy the following video and remember to always make time for chocolate.

This Stan’s Café video was filmed in Newcastle in June 2006.