Emilie Baltz | Circuit of the Senses

Emilie Baltz: Circuit of the Senses


Emilie Baltz: Circuit of the Senses
Participatory Immersive Dining Experience
Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts
Omaha, Nebraska
November 2014

In 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 CollectiveJason 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.


December 16, 2014–May 23, 2015
Gallery 1

In December, following the “Circuit of the Senses” dinner Baltz choreographed “Circus of the Senses,” a cocktail party hosted in the Okada sculpture facility across the road from the Bemis Center.

The resulting exhibition FOOD THEATER was realized to showcase both projects.

Baltz’s vision was the transformation of the everyday into the exceptional by bringing together local creators, ingredients, and community members to participate in immersive, multi-sensory spectacles that reimagine the role that food plays in our lives.

The exhibition showcased the props, sets, costumes and imagery of these projects as well as creating a stage for future activation with the central table serving as a space for community engagement, education and celebration.

The following videos, created by Make Believe New Media, and commissioned by the Bemis Center documented the ‘Sound’ and ‘Smell’ elements of both the Circuit of the Senses and the Circus of the Senses, and were included in the FOOD THEATER exhibition.

Food Theater by Emilie Baltz: The Sound Room from Make Believe New Media on Vimeo.

Food Theater by Emilie Baltz: The Smell Room from Make Believe New Media on Vimeo.

Emilie Baltz talks about Circuit of the Senses at Bemis Center.
Emilie Baltz | Circuit of the Senses | 2014 | Projects, public art / commissions