‘The Un-Natural Nature of Food’

© Hin Chua

© Adrian Chesser

© Lex Thompson

The Un-Natural Nature of Food, curated by Melanie McWhorter for Fraction Magazine, is a remarkable body of work with equally remarkable photography.

Curator’s Statement

Farming and hunting were a part of my life as a child — both my sets of grandparents had sizable home gardens and my maternal grandpa used to sell food by the bushel, pretty cheaply too, provided you picked your own vegetables. My uncle, not having much money but with the know-how and will to provide food for the family, was a hunter. He learned from his father, who frequently made the rabbit stew himself. My uncle killed squirrels, ducks, rabbits and, most of all, deer. He shot them, skinned them and prepared the meat – everything but the taxidermy. As a child, when I walked into his house filled with animal heads hanging from the walls, I would cringe, pass judgment and then request chicken legs for dinner or scarf down my grandma’s pot roast.

It seems like my hypocritical nature should have struck me sooner than it eventually did. It was not an epiphany and it took years to become a fully-realized thought. It started with buying organic at the grocery store which became an addiction to the local farmer’s market, eventually establishing my own small garden. I was a tree-hugging child, but I often distanced myself from thoughts about my personal relationship with the earth. I have wavered on some decisions, but before purchasing food I look and think about how this decision goes beyond me. Many of my friends tend to cringe when I start talking about my copy of “How to Survive in the Wilderness” and my reasoning about eating meat — “If I can’t kill it, I should not eat it”. With books like The Omnivore’s Dilemma or Fast Food Nation, and films like Food, Inc., it’s clear this pattern of thinking is happening on a broad scale, and I am perhaps more susceptible to suggestion than I like to think.

This exhibition is an extension of a personal exploration of my own relationship with food and, intentionally or not, is a political statement about the current relationship our society has to food — where it is produced, how it is produced, who produces it and with what. I have grouped these images to create an aesthetic flow leading from comfortable to uncomfortable, practical to ridiculous, natural to artificial, knowledge to ignorance. It is in contrast to many of the aspects of pre-production and post-production. Here I am interested in food as an aesthetic, a commodity. I’ve realized whatever changes I’ve made in my own life are not just a result of my own contemplation, but also the constant stream of images surrounding me. These thoughts and images have caused me to make decision about my own personal experience-to be conscious in my consumption.

-Melanie McWhorter

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