|“From a silver bowl of ice cream sitting regally on a marble pedestal to a half-eaten bar of chocolate perched precariously on a table’s edge, Taken for Looks brings together a sampling of food images. As alluring as some may be, none can be eaten." –Sarah Tanguy, Exhibition Curator
ABOUT THE EXHIBITION
Taken for Looks, Imaging Food in Contemporary Photography, takes a daunting view of the sustenance of our lives, not stopping for a breath before tossing up another discomfiting view of our most cherished culinary traditions.
Taken for Looks focuses exclusively on photography, bringing together an array of food images that probe our fantasies, our realities, our acts and our marks. Visual techniques and strategies traditionally associated with documentary, commercial and fine art photography cross-fertilize as each artist explores this fascinating subject in their own unique way. The make-believe and the actual become entwined to expose aspects of our confused and complex notions of desire. The viewer not only consumes the images but may also be overtaken by them; blurring the defining lines of consumer and consumed. Caught off-guard, we realize that we may have become the real subject of these images; and we may have been left with only the promise of fulfillment.
One significant trend in contemporary art is the blurring of boundaries—art and life, commercial and fine art, and within the field of fine art, the overturn of the traditional hierarchy that ranked mythological and political painting at the top and still life painting at the bottom. Current images of food form a particularly revealing nexus of food, fashion, and fiction. Rooted in everyday life and popular culture, they are immediately accessible. All of us eat and have associations of what, where, and how we eat. In the hands of image-makers, however, the familiar can become ambiguous resulting in ambivalent images, rich in open-ended meaning and feeling.
Martin Parr’s dizzying photomural installation of food, people, and places acts as a linchpin for the exhibition. The nearly 100 images from Common Sense revel in pop culture, and force issues of beauty, desire, class, and materialism. Inviting deciphering, the installation is a puzzle that challenges our very nature as human: “[Pigeons are] a great metaphor for human beings, especially when they’re pecking at junk food. So when I saw this pigeon with a fried chicken packet in Bedminster, …it was a natural picture.” And as the deadpan treatment of his subjects slips ever more seamlessly into critique, he has developed an uncanny ability to turn the familiar into the iconic.
Meredith Allen ◦ Anita Calero ◦ Sharon Core ◦ Tim Davis ◦ Susan Eder and Craig Dennis ◦ Doug Fitch and Mimi Oka ◦ Justine Kurland ◦ Laura Letinsky ◦ Zeva Oelbaum ◦ Martin Parr ◦ Lyndon Wade
ABOUT THE CURATOR
Sarah Tanguy is a curator in the ART in Embassies Program, the curator of Tools as Art: The Hechinger Collection, and adjunct curator for International Arts & Artists, as well as an independent curator and critic based in Washington, DC. She has developed over 150 exhibitions, including Sandy Skoglund: Enchanting the Real (a 30-year survey of Skoglund’s food-related installations and photography), Food Matters: Explorations in Contemporary Art, Off the Press: Re-contextualizing the Newspaper in Contemporary Art, The View from Here, Landshapes, New Angles: Photographs by Andrey Chezhin, Sweet Tooth, From Start to Finish, and Tools as Art. In addition to exhibition-related essays, she has written for The Washington Times, Sculpture, New Art Examiner, Glass, American Craft, Metalsmith and numerous other national publications.
“Over and over again, the artists in Taken for Looks graft a fine art aesthetics onto our media saturated world… Whether they ask us to glance, eavesdrop, or take a clinical look at food, they makes us revisit our primal urges as they transfer the physical imprint of the photographic plate onto the virtual imprint in our imagination. Once their seductive tendrils unfurl, visions of plenty yield only empty calories. Life turns to decay and death, with no promise of renewal. Like Tantalus, who stole the Food of the Gods and shared them with humankind, and like his punishment (standing in a pool of water under a fruit tree with low branches), they condemn us to a fate of never quite being able to reach satisfaction.” –Sarah Tanguy, The Ghost of Desire, Taken For Looks catalogue essay.
|ABOUT THE ARTISTS:|
Meredith Allen lives and works in Brooklyn. Much of her work focuses on the subject of consumerism and the contemporary first-world conundrum: the more we buy, the less fun it is. Her photographs of popsicles and of other subjects like Beanie Babies, investigate those curious possessions that either become priceless relics or just simply “melt away”...Click for more
Image to the left: Maple Ave. (digimon), 2001 © Meredith Allen
Anita Calero was born in Cali, Columbia and moved to New York City in 1982. She began her career as a stylist before deciding to pursue a photography career in 1992. Her photography has taken a commercial direction with assignments for home, food, and personal topics...Click for more
Image to the left: Japanese Place Setting, 2000 © Anita Calero
Sharon Core’s photographs of food in this exhibition are “re-enactments” of a series of early paintings by pop artist Wayne Thiebaud. Core creates meticulous still life constructions of cakes, pies and hotdogs in cool and luscious colors. These "edible live arrangements for the camera" are a mimetic homage...Click for more
Image to the left: Cream Soups, 2003 © Sharon Core
The Retail series of photographs by Tim Davis was concerned with the contamination of privacy and consciousness by commercialism. His images in this series show the reflections of fast-food restaurant neon signs on the darkened windows of suburban houses...Click for more
Image to the left: McDonald’s 2, Forsythia, from the Retail series, 2001 © Tim Davis
|Susan Eder and Craig Dennis
The collaborative duo of conceptual artists Susan Eder and Craig Dennis arrived at photography as a way to examine science and perceptual bias. Their work often has a pop art sensibility with a strong thread of humor. Their works mimics the fervor of "age of discovery" explorations of the natural world and other scientific inquiries with the pseudo-mapping of a species and an intense focus on specimens...Click for more
Image to the left: From the series: Lineage: Banana Family, 2002 © Susan Eder and Craig Dennis
|Doug Fitch and Mimi Oka
Mimi Oka and Doug Fitch work collaboratively to create multi-sensory dining experiences known as orphic feasts, site-specific sculpture, photographs of imagined eating experiences and works of art in edible media. The Land of Cockaigne is a reinterpretation of Brueghel's painting of the same name depicting a medieval fantasyland where food falls from the sky and no one has to work...Click for more
Image to the left: The Land of Cockaigne, 2003 © Doug Fitch and Mimi Oka
Justine Kurland's tableau photographs create a mythic world inhabited by sprite, adolescent girls. Half pixie, half teenage runaway, these girls embody the mind-set shared among young women of this age, one of empowerment, independence, camaraderie and intimacy. Kurland's vision of this band of outsiders as citizens of a new world of girls pervades all her work....Click for more
Image to the left: Shipwrecked, 2000 © Justine Kurland
Laura Letinsky's photographs focus mainly on the genre of Still Life and have their roots firmly embedded in the deep romanticism of traditional still life painting not merely in the history of this genre in photography. Her subjects are often very simple and commonplace materials and objects...Click for more
Image to the left: Untitled #12, from the series “Morning and Melancholia”, 2000-1 © Laura Letinsky
Zeva Oelbaum is a New York-based photographer, specializing in still life and food...Click for more
Image to the left: Bride Diptych, 2004 © Zeva Oelbaum
British photographer Martin Parr has achieved wide acclaim for his witty, ascerbic and ironic views of the banal and grotesque in society. His unique sensibility and gaze, when applied to the terrain normally covered by earnest documentary photography, reveals a deep ambivalence about...Click for more
Image to the left: Untitled, selected image from “Common Sense”, 1995-1998 © Martin Parr
Wade’s vibrant compositions often represents a larger narrative in the space of a single incident by creating a halted motion of his subjects that suggests something akin to suspended animation. His unique ability to produce complete narrative concepts within single images or small series of images can achieve great effect by luring viewers into the piece...Click for more
Image to the left: Untitled, from the ad series for a French Bakery: “Dangerously Good Bread and Pastries”, 2003 © Lyndon Wade
|Installation Shots at SMP:|
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