Introduction: A taste of the world


13 March 2023

Erika Kobayashi at the World Tea Gathering in Reykjavík, Iceland. “I wanted to take some things that were somehow representative of Brazil, not only of cultures but of the land, so I went to find basketry objects and tacacá gourds”. Photo by Ryo Yamauchi, 2014.

Liliana Morais introduces the Taste-Makers issue, whose stories reflect the sense of place, gustatory experience of objects and ways of coming together.

The idea behind this new Sensorium series of Garland, which begins with this first issue on Taste and will continue to explore the non-visual senses throughout 2023, emerged from a desire to celebrate the beauty of the handmade beyond the traditional art historical focus on sight. This visual bias has contributed to putting craft in its current predicament, which is often one of inferiority towards the visual arts, particularly in the Modern West, or a need to conform to the criteria by which the visual arts are appreciated and valued.

Instead, in the Sensorium series, we locate the power and appeal of craft in its multisensorial dimension by which the aesthetic experience, perception, and enjoyment are made through the various senses. I believe that this multisensory experience adds to a sense of intimacy with the objects that surround and take part in our lives, both on ordinary and special occasions.

An example of this intimate role of handmade objects in our lives can be seen in the commonplace or festive acts of eating and drinking, which often involve various sociability rituals. In this issue, you will find articles that explore the role of craft in adding to the experience of tasting foods and beverages, such as those focusing on tableware or on collaborations between makers and chefs. On these occasions, craft not only adds to the overall experience of consumption and enjoyment but craft objects themselves can be experienced through the sense of taste as Ana Sincu’s curry spoons will demonstrate.

Another aspect of craft relates to its understanding not only as a physical and permanent type of object but also as a process that is characterized by a deep exploration of the character of materials, or in the case of food and drink, the ingredients. In this process, the maker, or the cook, acts as a mediator, or facilitator as Erika Kobayashi put it, whose “job” is to bring out the best characteristics with the conditions at hand. Therefore, in this issue, you will also find several recipes that provide a sensory and mouthwatering experience!

Finally, craft and making can function as tools to affectively and sensorially connect with the past, with one’s ancestral histories and heritage, particularly for diasporic and indigenous communities, as well as with the surrounding environment and imagined futures. This role of craft to remake the world through creativity and imagination seems particularly important in our current situation of climate disasters and biodiversity loss.

For this issue, we also added a new section titled Taste-Makers, in which we introduce tableware created by selected makers that add to the experience of cooking, eating, and drinking. There, photos of craft objects are presented in their functional role and natural settings.

Although we are limited by the possibilities of the internet as a tool for experiencing craft that privileges the visual, I hope this Taste issue will feed your imagination to heighten all of your senses!

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