The matter of taste is always debatable due to a differentiation in the sensory experience a certain physical stimulation evokes. Food as the second condition for survival had different cultural and social functions throughout history and is something people indulge with great satisfaction. Now, the question is: can art provide a multisensory experience and be edible?
To answer that and many other questions concerning taste as primarily a bodily experience, Museum Tinguely in Basel decided to organize an exhibition called Amuse-bouche. The Taste of Art including works made by an intergenerational group of artists from the Baroque period to the contemporary moment.
This group exhibition curated by Annja Mülleris focused on an exploration of basic tastes that humans experience with sensory apparatus on a daily basis through the prism of aesthetics.
By unraveling the scope of emotions from pleasure to disgust present in the works, it also reflects on the metaphors found in numerous of German expressions, such as Honig ums Maul schmieren (to smear honey around someone's mouth or to butter someone
up) and bitterer Ernst ( bitter earnest in the sense of deadly serious) along with current sociopolitical issues.
The exhibition features the works by more than forty artists such as Jan Davidsz. de Heem, Filippo Tommaso Marinetti, George Brecht, Meret Oppenheim, Dennis Oppenheim, Andy Warhol, Daniel Spoerri, Sam Taylor-Johnson, and Mladen Stilinović, to name the few.
The representative selection of paintings, photographs, sculptures, video works and installations (including the allegorical depictions of the sense of taste by Baroque masters, the works by avant-garde artists of the early 20th century and prolific practitioners the 1960s and ’70s, and more recent productions) at the same time address the consumption and tasting of food and usage of nutritive ingredients and natural materials to accentuate different forms of flavor.
By bringing participative interventions that stimulate the senses, the exhibition tends to unravel the historical and phenomenological implications of our sense of taste.
The visitors are invited to organize the edible plants in the Hortus Deliciarum, an installation/performance-based project by the Portuguese artist Marisa Benjamim; experience the Goosebump, a large scale participatory work made of gingerbread cookies by the Australian artist Elizabeth Willing; the vegetal essences of Tastescape, a project by the Swiss artist Claudia Vogel; and the sauerkraut juice, labeled Brine and Punishment, in a large-scale installation by a Berlin-based artists’ collective Slavs and Tatars.
The current exhibition is accompanied by a bilingual book including captivating insights into different aspects of how taste impacts the human experience written by renowned art historians, scientists, and social scientists and practitioners.
Due to the reopening of Museum Tinguely that was closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the closing date for Amuse-bouche. The Taste of Art is extended and the visitors will be able to see it until 26 July 2020.
Featured image: Installation view with works by Bea de Visser, Blowup (Bubble), 2002 (back) und Sonja Alhäuser, Schokoladenmaschine II, 1999 (front) © 2020 Museum Tinguely, Basel; photo: Gina Folly; Installation view with Janine Antoni - Lick and Lather, 1993 (left) and Mortar and Pestle, 1999 (right) © 2020 Museum Tinguely, Basel; photo: Gina Folly; Elizabeth Willing - Installation view of the interactive work Goosebump, 2011 - ongoing. Pfeffernüsse (frosted gingerbread) and icing on a wall, dimensions variable. Courtesy of the artist and Tolarno Galleries Melbourne © Elizabeth Willing and Tolarno Galleries Melbourne. Photo: Elizabeth Willing; Installation view with Marisa Benjamim, Hortus Deliciarum, 2019 © 2020 Museum Tinguely, Basel; photo: Gina Folly. All images courtesy Museum Tinguely.