This Is Art

One of my favorite shows last year was the Marina Abramovic retrospective at MOMA.  I fell particularly hard because I usually hate performance art, and she completely won me over.  Given the opportunity to “be” a part of her newest work, a chef and artist collaboration with Creative Time, I jumped.  This newest endeavor is a dessert at Park Avenue Winter called Volcano Flambe, essentially a baked Alaska.

As a participant, not just a diner, you are presented with a wooden box with headphones at the onset of your “dessert”.  Abramovic instructs you to close your eyes, letting your sense of smell take over, breathing in the fumes of torched rum in three counts.  This moment, when you hear Abromovic’s deep and accented voice, is actually the most profound – an intimate interlude in the public space of a restaurant, connected by the anticipation of eating.  When she’s done and your eyes are opened, the dessert itself is a beauty to behold – a burnished cloud of meringue on top of dirt-like chocolate cookie crumbs, haloed by a spun sugar spirogram – Vesuvius in sugar and spice.  As a dessert, it is suitably tasty, but not an artistic challenge to the tastebuds, even with the cold chocolate ice cream surprise inside.  At $20, it’s an expensive dessert, or the high price of being arty.

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