How Marina AbramoviÄ? Makes Dessert

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Published January 13, 2011

 

“I believe that life is shorter; that is why we have to make experience longer,” Marina AbramoviÄ? said by way of justification for her latest project, a culinary collaboration with chef Kevin Lasko. AbramoviÄ?, a celebrated pioneer of performance art, has created some of the most important works in the visual-arts genre. Exploring the physical limits of the body and untold possibilities of the mind, she has been recasting her everyday life through a journey of works over three decades. In what was called a “food intervention,” AbramoviÄ? created a multisensory experience with Lasko for Park Avenue Winter restaurant, curated by Creative Time.Walking into the midtown space where AbramoviÄ? is presenting her creation, Volcano Flambé, guests might wonder how a restaurant, a room, a dessert, can contain all of the energy and passions of the artist—but the low ceilings and dim lights of the eating place hug her, and she hugs back. She stood behind the only table in the room and begins to lovingly describe her project to an intimate group of no more than 20: “I love the concept for four seasons, and how the food changes, and how the seasons change, and how what you eat affects the body.” She continued on making her own recipes and ensured that “sometimes you just imagine to eat.” As the first part of Volcano Flambé, AbramoviÄ?, who was surprisingly funny and light as opposed to her usual pieces, read from a collection of four short poems she called “Spirit Cooking Menus.” One read:

breakfast9 glasses of water

lunch9 glasses of water

dinner9 glasses of water

 

Another:

take 13 leaves of uncut green cabbagewith 13,000 grams of jealousysteam for a long time in a deep iron potuntil all water evaporateseat just before attack

 

Next, she led the way as five people at a time put on lab coats, becoming “experimenters,” and sat at the table with a wooden box in front of them. Inside the box was an audio recording. Everyone put on their headphones and simultaneously pressed play as AbramoviÄ?’s hypnotic voice guided them through the experience, instructing them to close your eyes and breathe. “I really think people should eat consciously and with awareness, and we don’t because we are talking, we are looking, but here is really you’re listening, you are really going into this deep relaxation and then you eat and you really can feel all the ingredients,” AbramoviÄ? explained.

By the time five pairs of eyes opened, Lasko was serving the dessert while an assistant followed closely behind, pouring on the rum to finish the flambé. The dessert itself was shockingly full of tastes and textures, from the bitter dark chocolate sorbet to a sweet Swiss meringue. An almond cake underneath lent it softness, and dark chocolate crumbs provided a crunch. The dessert was both hot and cold, and somewhere spicy, and the top was decorated with a hardened gold sugar confection—giving both the palate and the eyes something to marvel at. A calm and casual Lasko also took time to talk about the collaboration, explaining the role of each flavor: “Dark chocolate, because it’s bitter. Banana mousse, because it’s sweet.”

Then, almost as an afterthought, Lasko concluded, “And all of the ingredients are aphrodisiacs. Because… it’s Marina.”

MARINA ABRAMOVIC IS THE FIRST OF FOUR ARTIST COLLABORATIONS WITH PARK AVENUE’S CHEF KEVIN LASKO.