Tantalus Dinner by Ioli Sifakaki



Royal College of Art graduate Ioli Kalliopi Sifakaki designed a dinner service cast from her own body and then invited a dozen of her male friends to feast from the tableware.


The dinner service, and the dining furniture Sifikaki designed, are based on the Greek myth of Tantalus, in which Tantalus boils his son Pelops and offers him up as food to the gods to appease them.


Sifakaki presented the table and service at the RCA show, which ended yesterday, along with documentation of the dinner.


See other Dezeen stories about 2009 Royal College of Art graduates:

Ultra Lead by Georges Moanack
Christmas Tree Furniture by Fabien Cappello
Folding Plug by Min-Kyu Choi
The Drop Series by Olivia Decaris
The Toaster Project by Thomas Thwaites


Photographs are by Matthew Booth.

Here's further info from Sifakaki:



The ritual of eating is a key element in my work. In this series of objects, inspired by the Greek myth of Tantalus, I created a tableware set by casting my own body.


Ceramic objects are often related to rituals because they bare a remarkable resemblance to the purity and smoothness of the human flesh.


By casting myself, I copy, dismantle and offer parts of me, in order to provoke new, unusual relationships between the maker and the user.


Posted on Monday July 6th 2009 at 10:53 am by Brad Turner. Copyright policy | Comments policy

  • tanya telford – T

    i saw this yesterday, too bodycrass for me in terms of aesthetics and translation of concept etc… & find myself not taking this project seriously, but then maybe that’s the desired reaction? not sure, may be some people like it?

  • nice, what about the food then?
    just curious about the menu… random or conceptually worked out?

  • Gilbert

    Very strong concept u have.
    Its intimidating to know the art of dining.

    It is not too literal as well. Really “pure” piece of work. :)

  • zeemmee

    I Like the dining table, rest all reminds me of cannibals!

  • interesting that only males were invited to feast upon her dishes…

  • Gigi sle

    I wonder why a woman in this time would want to serve herself up to a pack of hungry men.
    And to not even stop there but also feed them and get them out of their mind drunk while she and her female friends are serving them. If it’s supposed to be some kind of critique I don’t think it is very strong but worse is that I don’t think it is even meant to be anything like a critique just a will full serving of self.

  • isla

    i realy like this, nice concept behind, eating her body all bloody, BUT, why you dezeen insist in posting so many RCA students work?, is it the only good arts and design school in the world?, i think there are a few others

  • Eduardo Alvares

    In Brazil, we say to eat someone = to f… someone!

  • yearofthemonkey

    12 Men: It’s the last supper.
    Jesus said “This is my body which is broken for you, do this in remembrance of me.”
    Note the colour of the food – fleshy.

  • Gigi sle,

    I tend to think that you hit on her point exactly.

    I wouldn’t call her piece so much a critique as an observation, a piece offered up to the viewer so that they could make their own observations and conclusions. Of course we have the images you mentioned, those of the 12 males feasting on the parts of her body, the action of the females serving the males. On top of that, we have a set of “before and after” images: the dishes, turned modestly upside down at the beginning of the meal and the neatly dressed men contrasted with the gory “after” image of the food-splattered table and eaters, with all the pieces of her body flipped over for all to see…. well, one can’t help but think that these provocative scenes were intentionally planned to allow the viewers to discuss what we are discussing now.

    It seems to me that just because a piece of art does not offer a brazen opinion on a subject does not mean it hasn’t done it’s job – provoking a discussion often seems more beneficial to me.

  • Blazing

    I like this work! I thought it was neat to see men enjoy woman-parts in a new way! Of course, it would have worked with women too!

    I disagree with some of the comments because I think there IS a brazen opinion here, that the enjoyment of a body can be dynamic, ever-changing! I think it’s a piece exploring the evolution of the appreciation of the body.

    But let’s have some more opinions!! I think differences in stances on gender/sexuality could add a lot to the discussion of this piece!

    Great work!

  • DRAW

    genious! wonderful! cool!
    la grande bouffe!


    This conceptual idea stands on itself as an experiment to enyoy shapes of (human) body-parts in a very different way ,or explore the proposed sexuality of the forms themselves..I can’t see the simularity with the Greek mythological ”Tantalus”-story of an angry god that is eating human flesh as an offering..I only see a kind of food-smudged jokers, presenting a kind of ‘erotic’ tableware.. So far, nothing special on the erotic’ art front..
    It looks like a simple curiousity of a group art students ,perhaps ,trying to manifest something new that (maybe) never has been done before..But what I do remember, is a collection of tv-programs/ films and photo’s of people, eating foods of real naked body’s on party’s .. For example: In, and far before the 1960’s this practical joke ,or ritual is performed on Greek or Roman orgies, (tv)parties & public ‘art-happenings’ and movies ..The male art-students of the R.C.A display themselves having a great time with their dirty white shirts after feeding each other with portions of mostly red coloured food, ( resambling human blood ) It is quite obvious to see,that it had to be spoiled deliberedly to create some dramatic ”food-fun- party- effect’.. Without all these effects,including the 2 spontane smiling (”mold’? )girls in the back,the female-mold-shaped tablewareproject-photo’s would be a bit boring to look at, I suppose..The only message in this work that I see is ,that you can have some ‘erotic fun with these kinds of human shaped tableware.. These luxurous porcilain objects repesent what some people may desire to have as unusual table-‘gadgeds’- to impress their friends, or to use this kind of usable ‘body-art’ as part of an ‘individual lifestyle’…

  • HELEN(15)

    I love this a great concept beautifully portrayed. Its great that inspiration can be drawn from anywhere in this particular case the inspiration being greek mythology. I’ve posted this while on work experience at an architects and graphic designers. These two weeks have really fueled my pre-existing passion for design and art. Good Job!

  • Justin

    Given that this piece cannot be described without the inclusion of a specific process, a ritual, I view it as more of a performing arts centerpiece. The object is actively altered by participants in the ritual .This needs to be used or to be seen in use to be appreciated, because any one of its static states do not and cannot tell the whole story.

    A play/drama performance could be written, centered about this object. Good job, I’m intrigued!

  • MAX

    I thought it was a PIZZA!

    Here again


    Dear Dezeen
    you sponsor the Royal College or what?
    perhaps the polemical things get popular, isn’it?

    with less elegance, less contents, less substance and LESS AESTHETIC
    it remind me
    “The Cook, the Thief, His Wife & Her Lover”
    a Peter Greenaway movie
    (sorry Peter).

    By the way
    I still consider the Royal college a great school!!!!

  • MAX

    I found quite messy and contrasting
    aestetically and conceptually
    The ritual of eating/the cannibalism???
    And by the way
    nobody eat at the Tantalus dinner except the Goddess Demeter!
    (that is not invited at the RCA performance!)

  • Like MAX I am reminded of Greenways´s film.
    This is totally gross.

  • Yannick

    I litterally LOVE this idea, all.
    The idea of molding parts of the body to create the dinner service, then the orgia kind of dinner where white shirts became voluntarily dirty!

    Chapeau, j’adore.

  • Alex

    I agree with Isla, I would like to see other schools featured on Dezeen as often as the RCA. Schools in Scotland?

  • kara

    amazing…great work :D

  • joanna

    It's a sexual piece, but no cast of the vagina or even a bit of pubic mound as far as i can see. The ultimate vessel.
    It's sexier that way maybe? Maybe that makes the whole thing a bit redundant.
    Maybe the RCA just don't want any fannys in their show in case wealthy benefactors are offended.