Accepted abstract - Creative Tastebuds Symposium

Food, Emotions and Memory in Polish Contemporary Art

By Agata Stronciwilk, University of Silesia, Katowice (Poland)

Tastes and smells of food can evoke various emotions and memories on both individual and collective level. In my paper I would like to reflect on different ways in which food can be engaged in an artwork.

David E. Sutton wrote about embodied memories rather than textual or verbal. Angelika Markul’s “Polish American Dream” is an example of reference to memory, which is rooted in sensory experience. Markul creates a multi-sensory installation in which she uses  “Donald” bubble gum. Markul refers to food nostalgia and the collective memory but also engages political issues, as during the communist regime for many Poles “Donald” gum became the symbol of unreachable lifestyle and freedom. The taste is not only individual experience as it carries social and political meanings.

Justyna Gruszczyk creates scented installations, which are often based on food aromas. In “Merging”, she recalls the taste of home, by creating the aroma of strawberry cake and spreading it around the streets of Dublin. Marta Rabikowska wrote about Polish migrants in UK that “food making and food consumption projects the concept of ‘home’ understood as a state of normalcy to be regained in face of the destabilized conditions of life on emigration”. The cake is referred as a metonymy of a home, therefore the scent in Gruszczyk installation is a way to create a community experience based on childhood memory.

Anna Królikiewicz is interested in physiology of taste. In her works she often questions the boundaries of taste and the ways in which acceptable tastes are constructed. Creating the “Flesh Flavour Frost” ice-cream she raises questions about the pleasure of closeness of human body but on the other hand the taboo of cannibalism. But isn’t the ultimate closeness always founded on “consuming” the other?