HEADLANDS CENTER FOR THE ARTS 2000
BILL MAYNES GALLERY, NEW YORK 2002
SAN JOSE INSTITUTE OF CONTEMPORARY ART 2009
CENTRE A, VANCOUVER, CANADA, 2009
This installation invokes and evokes a revery (elicited by the potent smell of chocolate) about the nature of desire. This work follows earlier projects that used fragrance: at the Des Moines Art Center, the presence of orange oil extract, at the UC Berkeley Art Museum, the loamy smell of earth, and in works created at the Headlands in the early 90’s, the sharp smell of apple cider vinegar as a cleaning agent replacing the musty smell of the old barracks.
The concept of desire, its atmosphere of omnipresence in our lives, is an awareness made physical within this space. In Buddhism, desire is seen as the source of anxiety in our lives, yet the paradoxical situation is that if we wish to reject desire we have invoked it.
Our aversion becomes desire again. In some Christian doctrines desire can be seen as sinful even without action or intent; so then the mind is caught in a spiraling maw.
The work is made of cocoa bean shells which are spread out on the floor in abundance, resembling a landscape. The shells are aromatic of bitter chocolate, but this by-product of food is inedible, consisting of sharp-edged glossy shells. There is a wooden pier, elevated over the floor upon which to walk into this enveloping landscape. In the San Jose version, a panel of gold leaf lays just out of reach of the pathway.
The effect on the participant is that of association with hunger and pleasure that is triggered by the smell. One is left alone on the path and as one contemplates the space and material, the feelings of desire and appetite fade into the background of the mind.