Left: Midwife/High School Science Teacher, 2008. Right: midwife/business consultant, 2012
A bartender’s fridge in 2008 (left) and 2012 (right).
Left: The fridge of a carpenter and photographer in 2008. Right: The fridge, with the photographer now a homemaker, in 2012.
Photographer Mark Menjivar wants to know what’s in your fridge. His series You Are What You Eat began in 2007 (it was previously featured on Beautiful/Decay here), and it captured the insides of 60 different people’s fridges. Menjivar thought of the series as a portrait project, with food defining someone’s identity. Several years later, he revisited some of the fridges. The new photographs depict how lives change over the years, as illustrated by food. For some, their habits have changed drastically, while others, more or less, are the same.
The ingredients in one’s fridge tell us a lot. Not only what kind of food they eat, but do they cook regularly, do they drink alcohol, do they like barbecue. And what about fresh produce? When the photographer met with a midwife and science teacher in 2008, they had started a commitment to eating only local produce. In 2012, with ready-made fruit packs in sight, we can see that commitment didn’t exactly last. The fridge that was chock-full of takeout containers in 2008 was owned by a bartender. Still a bartender in 2012, he has, according to Menjivar, started eating healthier and lost weight.
You Are What You Eat was originally shot for an exhibition at the Houston Center for Photography. Since the release of the series, the exhibition has travelled to 15 cities. In each city, Menjivar collaborates with communities to create a conversation about food issues in their area. The series will eventually become a book. (via Slate)
Microbiologist Christina Agapakis and scent artist Sissel Tolaas‘ science-meets-art project “Self Made” seeks to challenge the way we think about microbes, scent, and the nature of disgust. Most cheese is made by taking milk and spoiling it with the bacteria, Lactobacillus. This bacteria transform milk sugars into acid, causing it to coagulate. The chunks are removed from the liquid and aged with specific yeast that creates specific cheeses. Lactobacillus and yeast can be found all around us, including our own skin. Agapakis and Tolaas take microbes from people’s skin – like Michael Pollan’s belly button or artist Olafur Eliasson’s tears – and add them to milk in order to create a human microbial cheese portrait (a cheese selfie?).
“The idea was to recognize, how do we get grossed out? Then to think about it and move beyond that initial idea of disgust,” Agapakis says. “Why are we more uncomfortable with bacteria on the body than we are with bacteria in cheese?”
From the artists’ statement, “Many of the stinkiest cheeses are hosts to species of bacteria closely related to the bacteria responsible for the characteristic smells of human armpits or feet. Can knowledge and tolerance of bacterial cultures in our food improve tolerance of the bacteria on our bodies? How do humans cultivate and value bacterial cultures on cheeses and fermented foods? How will synthetic biology change with a better understanding of how species of bacteria work together in nature as opposed to the pure cultures of the lab?”
What does a week of groceries look like for you? Do you buy a lot of fruits, maybe some vegetables? Or, do you go for the frozen pizza and cookies? Peter Menzel photographed one week of groceries for families around the world. Traveling to places like Mexico, France, Chad, Mongolia, and more, he highlights the differences between the type and amount of food that is bought each week. Some of the disparity is staggering, especially when comparing volume of food and nutritional value on a week to week basis.
Being from the US, I was not surprised at the amount of processed food I saw. In this photograph, there are very few fruits and vegetables. Compared with places like Turkey and India, whose diets are comprised of mostly fresh foods, it was kind of disgusting. Just think about how many preservatives and chemicals there are! Something that’s pretty consistent from country to country is the purchase of liquids each week. Sodas (especially Coca-Cola), juices, bottled water are all things that showed up in nearly every picture. The family in Germany includes several bottles of wine and beer, which doesn’t amount to that much over the week, but together seems significant.
Of course, this is just a snapshot of one family and not necessarily indicative of how an entire country eats. We don’t know the finer details of the subjects, like the city they live in or their socioeconomic status. But, it does point to some trends and cultural habits that exist. It also gives us a snapshot to how other people unlike us live, which is always a good thing to be aware of.
Food art is back from the dead! And you thought that those crazy Fluxus artists from the 60’s were long gone…
Scandinavian artist Camilla Wordie creates textiles out of textures found in our daily eats. Her project is a synthesis of her love for both the culinary world and the arts. Edible textiles extends from Wordie’s other food-related productions (Am I chocolate or not? and Wearing Rice is Nice) which include tableware inspired by grains of rice and tables made of chocolate powder.
Megan Van Groll paints women– mediating on the fine line between nakedness and nudity, or how these two concepts relate to freedom or identity. Likewise, from bathing in cocoa puffs to sensually brawling at a donut shop, her food motif is an interesting one, often working in tandem with the female form– provoking thoughts of fetish from the outside, but also, a much more personal and complicated binging ceremony.
Of her own craft, Groll states, “My narrative portraits of women are, at their core, a painted attempt to understand and portray how modern women create identity and meaning from the world around them. I am interested in exploring the way we perform our projected ideal personas, for ourselves and for others.”
The artwork created by the Japanese art collective known as Three creates work with a political subtext as powerful as it is subtle. Three often uses common food objects such as fish shaped soy sauce packets or candy. For example, the installation Eat Me uses 7,000 wrapped candy pieces hung from the gallery ceiling in the shape of a house. Visitors are encouraged to pluck candy from the installation and toss the wrapper in a corner set aside in the gallery. Slowly throughout the day the ‘house’ of candy is transformed into a pile of trash – a symbolic recreation of the overwhelming destruction of homes by Japan’s 2011 earthquake and tsunami.
Photographer Christopher Boffoli continues his popular his Big Appetites series. The series of photographs captures tiny people living in a giant culinary world. These inhabitants explore, work, and even get into trouble with their huge food surroundings. Despite its whimsical appearance, the series has a more serious grounding. Big Appetites reflects America’s complex relationship with food. The consumption of food – not only by eating it, but by reading and watching television about it – is ubiquitous, as if we lived in a giant world of food.
Beth Galton‘s series Cut Food is a side of food photography rarely seen – the inside. Galton is a prolific photographer specializing in food. While she works primarily in advertising and commercial photography, Cut Food is one of several conceptual projects from Galton. The series captures common foods, though some not so commonly sliced in half. Canned soups and a cup of coffee seem to rest perfectly in half of a container. In order to catch some of these Galton replaced the liquids in the foods with a gelatin.