Flavor of Love: Exhibition on food and sexuality to open at the Kinsey

Guest post courtesy of IU Communications multimedia intern Milana Katic:

Oysters, honey, chocolate-covered strawberries – everyone knows the reputations behind these sensual snacks, and now the Kinsey Institute is holding an exhibition in their honor.

Chocolate Toes

“Chocolate Toes,” color photograph by David Deaubrey. Courtesty of the Kinsey Institute.

Opening this Friday, Kinsey’s fall exhibition “The Taste of Seduction” is all about the association of food with sensuality, from erotic photography depicting food to ceramic teacups with a turn-on. The exhibition is part of Indiana University’s 2014 Themester “Eat, Drink, Think: Food from Art to Science,” and it’s sure to add a flavorful layer to an already food-filled semester.

“As soon as we heard about this year’s Themester, we thought: ‘Food and beverages, we can do that,'” said Catherine Johnson-Roehr, Curator of Art, Artifacts and Photographs at the Kinsey Institute. “We have a lot of artworks in which food and drinks are featured in a variety of ways, so we immediately decided we’d put together a show to display that aspect of our art collection.”

In addition to showcasing a collection of art and artifacts spanning a variety of artistic genres, the opening reception will include taste stations filled with your choice of edible aphrodisiacs. Each area will include a brief description on why the food is interpreted as an aphrodisiac — some with scientific explanations and others cultural.  Tierney Lorenz, post-doctoral fellow at Kinsey, says much of the science of aphrodisiacs is based on little empirical evidence.

“Unfortunately, science has not given us a strong basis by which to say that any one food item is going to be an aphrodisiac, but that certainly doesn’t stop people from trying,” said Lorenz. “There is a very powerful cultural aspect in food practices and myths about food. Those can have a prominent effect on sexual desire and pleasure, and that’s nothing to be scoffed at. The science of placebo says that they can still have very powerful effects.”

Women Drinking Beer

“Women Drinking Beer,” photograph. Courtesy of The Kinsey Institute.

“We’re not claiming that any of these foods will make people run out and have sex, but it’s just a fun and different way to approach the subject of food and its role in romance and sexual expression,” said Johnson-Roehr. “The reception should be a pretty interesting and flavorful event.”

The opening reception, “Arousing Desire with Edible Aphrodisiacs” will be held from 4:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. Sept. 19 in the Kinsey Institute Gallery. “The Taste of Seduction” is opening in tandem with Kinsey’s other fall exhibition “Undress Me: A Peek at 19th and 20th Century Undergarments,” a collaborative exhibition with the Sage Collection. Both shows will remain at the gallery until Dec. 23.

The event and exhibitions are free to the public. You must be 18 or older to attend unless accompanied by a parent or guardian. The Kinsey Institute Gallery is open from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays or by appointment.

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