Following on from the ’Ghostess’ cocktail and elixir she devised for Absolut at the 2013 Venice Art Biennale, performance artist Ana Prvacki crafted another spirit-lifting concoction for guests at Art Basel last week. Like the first offering - which touched on concepts of etiquette and desire - her latest cocktail is laden with rich ingredients and subversive meanings.
This year, working alongside an Absolut master mixologist, the artist was driven by her fascination with the idea of ‘divination before navigation’. In ancient times, the compass was used by the Chinese for divination and prognostication before it was adopted as an orientation apparatus for sea travel. It’s an instrument that tells you where you are before indicating where to go, and this grounding principle was a starting point for Prvacki in her search for ingredients.
Prvacki’s recipe features clay-infused vodka, honey, soda and nine drops of a secret tincture that she commissioned from an alchemist – a mix of saffron, angelica and other herbs. ‘In this drink, there is a connection between earth and sky,’ says the artist, explaining the symbolism of the clay as the essence from where we come from and return to. The potato (vodka’s main ingredient), she adds, echoes a connection with the earth, while the flowers and herbs mixed with honey conjure images of bees pollinating. ‘It’s like the ground and the sky kissing,’ she adds.
Her drink was served in a V-shaped glass and ‘garnished’ with a compass - to prevent guests from drinking it immediately and to encourage awareness of their location. ‘My idea is to find yourself through better, more meaningful drinking,’ says the artist. Her cocktail is an experience, an arresting recipe that grounds you. And for Prvacki, the cocktail-making process offered a welcome departure from the norm: ‘I think it’s fantastic that your venue is a glass; it’s so sustainable and democratic.’
Has the collaboration with Absolut changed the way she works? ‘I have a bar in my studio now,’ she explains, ‘so whenever someone comes over, I offer them a cocktail.’