ooo is a digital platform for art and culture that emerged in 2022 from an initiative of cultural practitioners and artists. Through a changing pool of artists, writers and journalists from the field of art and beyond, ooo reflects and presents artworks, exhibitions and events through diverse approaches and forms of expression.

She translates home into smells

Doris Kleck

Sandra Knecht (*1968) is a child of the countryside. When she talks about home, she talks about the rhythm of ruminants. A little over ten years ago, she came to Zurich to study art. She describes the city as an extremely hostile place. Too narrow, too unfriendly. She had to find a way to deal with the city. And she set out in search of home - the overriding theme of her artistic work.

She found it in smells and tastes. MAGA detergent, filter coffee and the dark Löliwald forest near Herzogenbuchsee with its fir trees and larks: for her, this was the world of her grandmother. To bring the past into the present, she combined these smells in a schnapps. Up to a few years ago she still heard the reproach that cooking was not an art form. Today, in 2023, unimaginable. Now that cooking has become a quasi-religion; tell me what you eat and I'll tell you who you are.

Sandra Knecht

Sandra Knecht is a conceptual artist. Cooking is one of her art forms. But she has also chosen film, photography or books as her medium. Knecht does everything - except painting. And yet she loves to talk about the old masters. Or better: the female masters. Like Rosa Bonheur (1822-1899), feminist, lesbian painter, with a preference for large animals. Cattle, horses and sheep, for example. She managed to give each animal an individual expression. So vividly that Knecht can smell the smells and hear the sounds when she looks at them. With the old masters, the cows still had horns and the billy goats had beards. They were allowed to grow old and imposing. Not like today, where they are subjected to the logic of milk and meat production.

Bonheur kept animals as Knecht does. She walks two to three hours a day with her four goats and Ivan the ram. Knecht not only cooks, she also makes sausages. She finds eating her own meat extremely good. Every animal has its own individual taste. The sausage is also art, and the sausage is politics. "What could be easier than discussing rams and their problems while eating a sucuk?" asks Knecht. Questions would automatically arise. For example, why does the sucuk taste different from the one in the Turkish supermarket? Because it doesn't have bad fat in it. Or because the garlic doesn't have to cover up bad meat.

Her art is meant to be experienced, to be understood. And for that, Knecht tells good stories.
During a stay in Berlin - yes, her relationship with the city has relaxed - she is currently preparing a large exhibition with a dinner party. In the style of the American feminist artist Judy Chicago. The latter depicted the history of women by means of 39 porcelain place settings. Knecht portrays 50 women who have shaped her view of the world, her identity. She translates their work into dishes. 50 women like writers Valerie Jean Solanas and Virginie Despentes or anthropologist Donna Haraway. How the singer Patti Smith smells is already clear: a sourdough bread with alpine butter and a mushroom essence in spray form. The bread, whose mother yeast is cultivated with great patience, stands for the Godmother of Punk; the alpine butter from Rüschegg for the place where Patti Smith had herself painted by Franz Gertsch; and the mushroom essence for her resilience.

Like a hunting dog, Knecht tracks down the right dish. She researches, reflects, asks questions. Every answer raises even more questions. And at some point it materializes. The dish is eaten. The happening is over. "This ephemerality interests me," Knecht says. Becoming and disappearing. So long as it's not being forgotten in a museum's storage.

And what does Sandra Knecht herself taste like? "Like my Glacier Milk," she says. She has reinterpreted the traditional Basel-Landschaft schnapps "Burgermeisterli". A distillate made from apples and 11 herbs. In the bottle, it is clear as a mountain stream; with ice, it resembles a river during glacial melt. Home and identity - a fluid affair.