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Artworks contributor Joakim Sjunnesson digs deep into the mysteries of our sensations, painting a hedonistic picture in the process.

2 min read

You know what I’m talking about. When you really feel something. A sensuous and intense feeling of enjoyment. You focus. You associate. You stop. You are dazzled. Maybe you have an impulse to say out loud “Ahh! That’s good!”. For me this kind of heightened feeling is perhaps most associated with some of the activities I’ve been doing during the last couple of weeks. I’ve been smelling, seeing, eating and drinking. And most involved expressing my pleasure out loud. 

The sensual pleasures I’m referring to involve smelling perfumes at department store Nordiska Kompaniet (NK), going to the Thomas Schütte exhibition at Moderna Museet, experiencing Tony Cragg’s sculptures in Djurgården (for hours) and finally eating and drinking at restaurants Gro and Pubologi

The short-lived experience of smelling perfume, eating fantastic food, drinking fine wine or the very concrete experience you could get from engaging with a sculpture, all have something to do with the act of consuming. To want something. To fantasise. It can almost feel like you become consumed in the process if it's particularly good stuff. 

When I smell perfumes it can sometimes unlock forgotten memories. It can remind me of an old lover’s fragrance, transport me to an old wood cabin, spray paint in a studio, to summer rain and wet asphalt. When I engage with a massive piece of sculpture it takes up space, our shared space. Me and the sculpture. I want to touch it. The material of it sometimes so tactile and sumptuous that I want to eat it. “It looks like chocolate!”. Good food and wine… Don’t even get me started.

Perhaps the most interesting aspect of this is that when smelling, tasting or seeing something astonishing this can induce very concrete experiences and vice versa when it comes to touching. The smell becomes a concrete thing, the touch gives you an emotional reaction. Isn’t this the very nature of the sensual? One induces a reaction in another and occasionally this multi- sensory experience is so moving it could be considered a spiritual experience perhaps? 

I believe we should engage in these and other sensory pleasures more often in the self controlled and often dull lives of our sensations. Why not?