Food for the Eyes

The Story of Food in Photography
June 08 2019 until September 07 2019
Daniel Gordon, Pineapple and Shadow, 2011, Archival Pigment Print © Daniel Gordon . Courtesy der Künstler und James Fuentes Gallery, New York
© David von Becker
© David von Becker
© David von Becker
© David von Becker
Peter Fischli und David Weiss, Modenschau, 1979, aus der Wurstserie © Peter Fischli und David Weiss, Zurich 2018 . Courtesy Spruth Magers, Berlin

Food for the Eyes at C/O Berlin presents the varied history of food in photography. The exhibition includes Swiss artist duo Fischli and Weiss’s legendary Sausage Series, showing hot dogs, German sausages, parsley, and pickles arranged as props in a grotesquely absurd scene; fashion photographer Irving Penn’s similarly iconic frozen fruit and vegetable sculptures and his numerous artful still lifes; and British Magnum photographer Martin Parr’s images of bright fairy cakes, tea, and beans on toast, all instantly recognizable as typically “British.” The show also presents works by Cindy Sherman and Martha Rosler that disrupt the traditionally domestic role of the woman in the kitchen.

Like the air we breathe or the water we drink, food is necessary for our survival. It awakens our senses and is part of private and public life in equal measure. Food and shared meals also play an important role in our rituals, religions, and festivals. Our beliefs, desires, and fantasies are reflected in what we choose to eat. Because food is part of our everyday life, it was and is a frequently depicted subject. And, like food itself, food photography can raise fundamental questions about a wide variety of societal themes: family, tradition, home life, wealth, poverty, gender, race, disgust, satisfaction, and consumption.

Wolfgang Tillmans, Summer Still-life, 1995 © Wolfgang Tillmans . Courtesy Galerie Buchholz, Berlin/Köln, Maureen Paley, London und David Zwirner, New York
Weegee, [Phillip J. Stazzone is on WPA and enjoys his favorite food as he’s heard that the Army doesn’t go in very strong for serving spaghetti], 1940, © Weege

With works from fine art, fashion photography, journalistic stories, and advertisements, the exhibition offers a comprehensive overview of the depiction of food in photography through three themes. Still Life explores one of the most firmly established artistic traditions and asks the questions: How have photographers reinterpreted and subverted what was originally a genre of painting? What has changed—which new forms have developed over the course of time? Around the Table examines the ritual and sense of community that forms when food is shared, as well as the values and cultural identity they reflect. Playing with Food explores how the playful use of food can present new meanings and call us to both question and laugh at society’s traditions.

Food for the Eyes . The Story of Food in Photography brings together a number of well-known artists, including Nobuyoshi Araki, Peter Fischli and David Weiss, Nan Goldin, Rinko Kawauchi, Laura Letinsky, Martin Parr, Irving Penn, Martha Rosler, Cindy Sherman, Stephen Shore, and Wolfgang Tillmans. Curated by Susan Bright and Denise Wolff the exhibition is organized by Aperture Foundation, New York, in collaboration with C/O Berlin.

© David von Becker