Emilie Baltz: Circuit of the Senses
In late 2014, I invited artist Emilie Baltz to undertake a residency at the Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts in Omaha, Nebraska, to develop a work that would engage Bemis patrons and community members to re:imagine the role that art plays in daily life by transforming a fundraising gala dinner, and a community party, into an artwork that was simultaneously a creative playground filled with edible delights. Inspired by Kafka’s definition of theater as “melting the ice within, of awakening dormant cells, of making us more fully alive, more fully human, at once more individual and more connected to each other,” Circuit of the Senses was a 5-course interactive dinner conceived by Emilie during her residency, in collaboration with chef Paul Kulik – chef and restaurateur at Boiler Room and le Bouillon, mixologist Luke Edson and local artists, Amanda DeBoer Bartlett, Dereck Higgins, Mark Powers, Tbd Dance Collective, Jason Webb and Bemis resident Claudia Bitran.
This 120 person dinner party was held in the main galleries of the Bemis Center engaged gallery, completely transformed by Emilie and her collaborators into a magical playground. Guests were assigned individual paths through the galleries and encounter interactive courses inspired by the five human senses: roasting marshmallows and hot dogs on singing grills, eating from bowls spinning on transparent ice tables, feeding from a live table and dining on clouds of rosemary vapor. Participants were encouraged to touch, taste, smell, see and listen together as a community.
The Circuit embodied Emilie’s vision of creating experiences that stimulate playful, multi-sensory interaction that re-train adults in childlike discoveries of the world and reawaken curiosity in the everyday.
Produced by Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts.
Curated by Amanda McDonald Crowley.