Nothing is more bellyaching good and decadent than traversing a plethora of food stalls at a food fair or festival. Arte Fuse feasted on the photographs of Anja Hitzenberger at Underline Gallery last April 5, 2012 for the opening reception of “TAKE-OUT: Chinese Fast Food Photographs”.
Taken at Beijing’s Olympic Park during her two-month residency in the fall of 2011, this series of photographs were all taken in the temporary food court set inside the park grounds. In the bright displays and overabundance of delicacies, it is like a jewel box of food that is directly connected to our human need to satiate hunger and at times the want to consume overtakes the actual need.
In keeping with the theme, curator Michael Steinberg handed out coupons to redeem complimentary pot stickers at the dumpling truck situated at the front of the gallery. Almond and fortune cookies were also offered profusely in containers at the front gallery windowsill as each guest will surely feel the hunger pangs by viewing such vibrant images but it is a stark view of Chinese contemporary life. Casey Burry, the director of the space, which was re-opened in August of 2011 as Underline Gallery, made sure that everyone had a delectable time at the opening reception.
Hitzenberger’s first solo exhibition made a frank contrast between the warm inviting abundant morsels juxtaposing the tedious looks of the food stall workers who were bored serving. Food and consumption has always been a source of inspiration for the artist. A lot of people have poised the question to her throughout the night if all these pictures are real or staged or even Photoshopped? She casually stated that it was taken in cinema verité as no digital manipulations were employed. The lights were harsh and coupled with the loud colors were devised by vendors to attract customers so the whole tent was ripe with electrified intensity. The clever and precise observation captured by the artist is a keen commentary of our current time. In light of so much abundance, one blatantly becomes apathetic and not even realizing how something so mouthwatering be callously dispensed.
TAKE-OUT is a fast impact visually but a slow mirror reflection that will make you digest the truths of how food culture is symbolic of society’s habits of fulfilling wants over needs. But one thing is for sure, you’ll never leave hungry.
Anja Hitzenberger: TAKE-OUT / On view: April 5 – May 13, 2012
Gallery Hours: Tuesday – Sunday (11 am – 7 pm)
Underline Gallery. 238 West 14th Street. New York, NY 10011
article by: Oscar A. Laluyan