Tasha Marks is a food historian who has a unique stance in terms of creative production and expression. Her practice AVM Curiosities combines the senses, and questions the relationship between art and experience. The resulting work is beautiful to look at, but also evokes desire, pleasure and curiosity. In this sense, Tasha's work is not limited to the five senses, but seeks to create a historical and artistic discourse over food.
You study and create projects identifying the relation between food-history-culture-senses. How can you describe that relation?
By adding the senses to the gallery space you are playing with expectations, we speak in hushed tones in museums, and are told not to touch things in the gallery; so by adding food, smell and sound you are telling a story but you are also changing behavior, enhancing the ritual and making the whole experience performative. Not only do the paintings come to life, but the visitors often do to.
What is the most significant difference in the food of previous centuries and the food of today?
Your project Within Reach of Every Hand was an about sharing, landscape, boundaries and home. Those are the main emerging topics of nowadays in a global sense. What is your position towards these issues?
I think food is politically powerful. It can divide and unite in equal measure. Food is intrinsically nostalgic, from childhood favorites to our go-to dishes, we are creatures of habit and comfort. Food can also be an adventure, a journey to other cultures and places, in bite-sized chunks. But we all eat, and in that way it is a universal leveler. In our stomachs there are no borders.
What is the most powerful taste for you?
Sugar. It can delight and repulse.
I think food is still a very important need for human beings not just in terms of feeding but to satisfy the need for socialising around it. What do you think?
We live in an increasingly digital world, so food and the experience of eating is more important than ever. We are vulnerable when we eat, it’s an intimate act. Sharing a meal with someone is an intense sensory experience that we often take for granted, but ultimately it’s what makes us human.
What would be the ideal place and venue for a “last supper”?
I think everyone’s Last Supper is unique to them. If it was my Last Supper I’d want it to be in my flat with my closest friends and family. Maybe in this imaginary Last Supper my flat could also be three times the size, I’ve only got a 4 person table…
The event you organised on April 6th, The Sonic Sensorium: Jazz Edition is defined as “exploring the interaction between the senses: pairing music and sound, to taste and aroma, creating an all-encompassing sensual experience”. Can you tell us more about the event?
The Sonic Sensorium was inspired by crossmodalism, which is a field of neuroscience that explores how the senses interact in the brain. The senses are all linked; colour can effect taste, sound can effect texture, and so on. As someone who engages with the senses in their practice this was something that creatively I was keen to explore. The Jazz edition of The Sonic Sensorium was in response to an exhibition at Two Temple Place called Rhythm & Reaction: The Age of Jazz in Britain, each act was selected because of their style of music, and paired with either a cocktail, perfume or taste that complimented their performance. The idea was to provide a little taste of the 1920s, but also play with the senses, in the hope that the sensory accompaniments would change the experience of the music.
Your project in 2.Istanbul Design Biennial (2014) was combining art of sugar sculpture with traditional Turkish carpentry and was inspired by a quote from Rumi: 'this sea of sugar knows no bounds'. What have you discovered while you were studying on the project for Istanbul back then?
My time in Istanbul was formative in shaping my methods and ways of thinking. I had spent much of my time focusing on British history, so it was a pleasure and a privilege to be able to delve into another culture. Meeting with traditional Turkish sweet makers, discussing the history of rosewater with academics at the university, and my trips to the spice markets, were inspiring and eye opening. I was delighted to discover familiar flavours alongside exotic ones, and common ground as well as exciting differences. One thing was for sure, and that was that mankind all around the world has a sweet tooth. While the forms and flavours might be different, that quest for sweetness is universal. The final installation This Sea of Sugar Knows No Bounds reflected this global history, visually referencing Turkish tiles and architecture, but also Tudor England and Wedgwood Jasperware.
What would be the end point for you?
Tasha Marks | Interview by Bahar Türkay
XOXO Digital | 20 April 2018
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