Art of Repast: Senses and the Fleeting Spirit of Memory

Dorota Koczanowicz 

Flavors are strongly associated with emotions, embodied memory and sentiments, both in terms of social memory frameworks and in terms of individual experiences. The memory of past gustatory experiences is preserved in the body and anchored in meal situations. The experience of taste is very fleeting and resists perpetuation even in language. It is revived only when we repeat it. The past, inaccessible experiences can be reconstructed in and through art.

My argument in this paper will revolve around multisensorial artistic practices of Anna Królikiewicz, a Gdańsk-based artist who abandons art’s traditionally postulated disinterestedness and makes the sense of taste an important axis of her work. In this way, she transgresses art’s boundaries as defined in the classic notions of beauty. She transforms simple everyday rituals involved in food cooking and sharing into rituals of art. As the artist “locates memory in the stomach,” her works become a laboratory in which relationships between memory and eating are explored. Her method involves a synesthetic transfer of impressions from one site of stimulation to another. One stimulus activates stimuli in entirely different sense-areas. The artist relies on flavors and aromas to restore the memory of past situations, places and people. She also inquires into ways of remembering and possibilities of forming a community around the table. As a result of the work of the imagination and sensory experience, a work of art emerges in which the existing artistic situation and memory work are merged.