Alcohol has gained a notable prominence in contemporary art, particularly in artists’ bars and other convivial situations at biennials and art fairs. What happens, though, when an artwork features alcohol that cannot or is not meant to be drunk? If the point of drink in contemporary art involves engaging spectators in sensorial, embodied encounters, what remains of the specialness of alcohol when it stays in the bottle? This article examines artists’ multiples and distillation projects where drinking is teasingly possible but downplayed. In these works, partaking is less important than the inebriating affect, in which drunkenness is experienced at a remove, and so infuses the imagination to instigate thought beyond the act of drinking. Even when contained, the intoxicating potential of alcohol has the ability to disrupt norms and aesthetic conventions, as well as to make compelling comments on art and society.
Bottles of Art, Works of Alcohol
Jim Drobnick is a critic, curator, and Associate Professor of Contemporary Art and Theory at OCAD University, Toronto. He has published on the visual arts, curating, performance, the senses, and post-media practices in recent anthologies such as Food and Museums (2017), The Artist as Curator (2015), L'Art Olfactif Contemporain (2015), The Multisensory Museum (2014), Senses and the City (2011), and Art, History and the Senses (2010). His books include the anthologies The Smell Culture Reader (2006) and Aural Cultures (2004), and he has co-edited special thematic issues of Performance Research (Under the Influence, 2017), Public (Civic Spectacle, 2012) and The Senses & Society (Sensory Aesthetics, 2012). In 2012 he co-founded the Journal of Curatorial Studies, which focuses on exhibitions and display culture. His curatorial collaborative, DisplayCult, organizes art exhibitions that foreground performative and multisensory projects (www.displaycult.com).
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Jim Drobnick; Bottles of Art, Works of Alcohol. Gastronomica 1 November 2018; 18 (4): 54–70. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/gfc.2018.18.4.54
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