A Matter Of Taste
a sensory installation: a singular tasting of home-baked goods, accompanied by a compelling, ambient soundtrack & objects reflecting childhood memories of transitional Lithuania.
Lithuanians joining hands across the country for Independence Day celebration
Growing up in Lithuania while still under Russian Rule, I often recall being a painfully shy 5 year-old girl who would wait in line with my lovely grandmother to purchase groceries. Portions were regulated not by need but by the number of persons accompanying you. So, often after getting our items, my grandmother would instruct me to stand with one of the strangers who was alone so she could get adequate groceries.
Because of those limited supplies, our home-baked goods had only a hint of typical ingredients such as sugar, sweet condensed milk and cocoa. But they were pure, high quality homemade treats made with love and tasted really good. Every Saturday our home was filled with enticing aromas of baked goods. Always the same 10 or so recipes rotating throughout the year. But boy, were they tasty.
However, when Lithuania regained its freedom, with it came a whole new meaning of tasty treats with the flood of western mass-produced goods. Packaged muffins and loafs with the shelf life lasting over a year. Cookies, sweet sodas and chocolate bars. Snickers, Milky Way, Bounty and Pepsi Cola to name just a few. And the new experience was shockingly delicious. For a while. Until I began to feel an imbalance due to my taste buds being so overwhelmed. And I slowly realized that freedom may allow for a life of boundless choices and preferences, even decadence, but it called for a responsibility of balance. Otherwise, one could easily lose their footing. Values. Taste.
While reflecting on this over the years, I wondered if baking with unlimited resources with the moderation of the past in mind, might be worth re-visiting. And indeed it was. Not only for rekindling a taste of legacy, but also for providing a heartfelt reminder.
From that, I eventually created what I feel is a sensory installation. I'm hoping you will give your taste buds a brief break from the usual and allow them to take a short journey to taste a bit of my history.
- Goda Rupeikaite
vintage Russian cooking apron
Russian school cafeteria plates
Lithuanian bread & grocery line 1982