Columbia University in the City of New York

The Harriman Institute Presents

The Alphabet Diet Project

by Irina Danilova

Photos of food arranged into letters of the Roman and Cyrillic alphabets.


Monday–Friday, 9:00 AM–5:00 PM
March 25th, 2024 through May 9th, 2024


Harriman Institute Atrium
420 W 118th St, 12th Floor
New York, NY 10027

Visitor Information

All non-Columbia visitors must meet the primary vaccination series mandate.

No registration or tickets required.

About the Exhibit

The Alphabet Diet Project is an annual performance that began in 1996 within greater Project 59 when the artist, Irina Danilova, discovered that the Russian alphabet (33 letters) and English alphabet (26 letters) together comprised 59 letters.

Since then, for 59 days in July and August, Irina Danilova has been eating food that begins with the same letter, first following the Russian alphabet and then – English. Each letter has a designated day. For example, August 4th is always an A-Day; August 9th is an F-day; August 17th is an N-day, and so on. In 2002 the Alphabet Project began to include meetings with people or visits to places with names that started with the corresponding letters. Several video documentaries were shot that year to record the change. In 2022 and 2023 instead of the Russian alphabet, Irina followed the Ukrainian alphabet, which has some different letters, but also 33 characters.

An Exhibit Opening reception will take place on March 26th. Learn more >

About the Artist

Irina Danilova is a visual, media, and performance artist, curator, educator, and director of the not-for-profit organization, Project 59, Inc. Born and raised in Ukraine, she has lived and worked in Moscow and now lives in Brooklyn, NY. Her installations and video installations have appeared in the Islip Art Museum (Islip, NY), Weisman Museum (Minneapolis, MN), Zimmerli Museum (Rutgers, NJ), Spaces (Cleveland, OH), The Telephone Factory (Atlanta, GA), Judson Church and the Chelsea Museum of Art (New York, NY). Internationally, she has exhibited in Germany, Bulgaria, Iceland, Russia, UK, Italy, France, Belgium, Australia, and Ukraine. Danilova took part in the first and third Ural Industrial Biennial in Ekaterinburg, Russia, the Murgia Biennale in Italy, and the Jerusalem Biennial in Israel. Her work has also been shown at the National Center for Contemporary Art and the Regina Gallery in Moscow. As a performance artist, she has appeared in the Cleveland and Santiago International Performance Art Festivals, and taken part in the Franklin Furnace program, The Future of the Present.

Danilova won an international public art competition in Halle, Germany. Her Cyberworks were presented at Thundergulch and Smack Melon Gallery in New York, and Prixars Electronica, in Austria. In 2012 she became the inaugural Vilcek Foundation artist of the year. The artist is involved in several ongoing serial or lifelong projects. One of her major works is Project 59, started in 1995 with a flip of the last two digits. It was intended to last one year but has, instead, continued. The incidental number 59 is used as a key for artistic explorations and experimental approaches in her art. Danilova’s videos have been screened around the world. She has curated several international projects, including Bulgaria-NY, Multiples, and E-Europe, and founded and co-curated the 59 Seconds Video Festival (2005-2008) and the BRURAL series (2011-2016).

Irina Danilova has an MFA from the School of Visual Arts. For two decades she has been teaching art at Kingsborough College of CUNY.