”Catch Me If You Can” – Christine Fentz/Secret Hotel

 

Secret Hotel, based in Aarhus and Mols (DK), works with performing art, creating relational work or participatory art pieces, rooted in performance, dance and theatre.
These years we work under the headline “Landscape Dialogues” exploring the intersection of relational art, sustainable approaches and landscape in interdisciplinary meetings. We work from spiritual and animist values, acknowledging the bustling presence of multispecies, the creatures and entities entangled in each other; entanglement explored under the geological label of The Anthropocene.
Our work doesn’t preach anything, but always aims at creating easily accessible experiences. Our work stimulates both senses and intellect, and almost as a rule we always have some kind of serving; food or just something for the tastebuds.

In September Secret Hotel premiered a walking performance: “Walking Lecture on Ants”, the first of a series of three performances on elements from the natural world. The following walking lectures are planned to be about solitary bees, and trees & mycelium (mushrooms).

I would love to describe the whole “Walking Lecture on Ants” (taking place in the Aarhus Botanical Garden for 30 participants), but you can get a whiff of it on our www.secrethotel.dk – photos and a short video documentation. We are working on two revised versions, available for touring, for adults and for children.
 
Here a short description of what happened in the Showcases-format during Creative Tastebuds:
4-7 curious participants gathered around a high café table where I asked them to put on a white painting protection dress which you can see on the picture.
While looking at printed photos from the actual walking performance, the guests were given a short version of the above intro to Secret Hotel’s work.
We moved on to the next table and three magnifying glasses where distributed.
At the third and last table I asked the guests to close their eyes. Then I guided them through an ultrashort version of the meditation on grass, insects and ants “Grass”, which is part of the “Walking Lecture on Ants”. Surprisingly people reported that the meditation worked, despite the noisy space we were in. “Grass”, as can be guessed, is a grounding experience, where the participants are invited to BE grass, and therefore also experience an altered time perception.
When this part were over, the guests opened their eyes and could now look more carefully on what was in front of them on the table: An artistically made formicarium with Jet Black Ants (Lasius Fuliginosus or in Danish orangemyrer – ‘orange ants’).
The guests could just watch the ants, or catch and eat an ant. It was not a Dare-you-challenge, but simply an offer (just as during the actual performance), and in line with Creative Tastebuds focus on taste.

Lasius Fuliginosus is known for its special taste and smell because of the dendrolasin and citronellal in its feronomes. This taste is experienced by most people as very citrus, hence the Danish name, albeit the ant is indeed jet black.
The Danish Michelin-restaurant Noma in Copenhagen has served this ant. The insect and herb gatherer Thomas Laursen – working with Noma and others – has tasted a myriad of insects all over the world, and he reports that the ‘Orange Ant’ is the best tasting insect he ever came across (1 kilo of ants costs appr. 27.000 €!).

When people had spent some time with the ants, reacting on each other tasting, or indeed not tasting them, exchanged reactions and reflections, I thanked them for partaking. Getting out of the white dresses, the guests went on to other showcase tables, and a new group of guests would be forming.

 

”Walking Lecture on Ants” was created with funding from Aarhus Cultural Capital 2017/Little Rebellions, Danish Arts Council and Folkeuniversitetet.    

 

 

 

Martin Dam Kristensen, Folkeuniversitetet