Wallpaper Magazine occasionally invite artists to experiment with food in a series called Artist’s Palate. The concoctions are often immaculately put together, visually stunning and totally repulsive all at the same time. That same sense of dichotomy is found in this incredible series by photographer James Ostrer.
In Wasit All About, Ostrer smothers his sitters in colored cream cheese, confectionary, processed meats and junk food as a sort of homage to the Western worlds obsession with eatable plastic consumables. Ostrer’s work often stems from the biographical and this series follows the same path, initially beginning as a means to expose himself to such extreme levels of junk food that he’d no longer want to eat it. What develop is much more a conversation on a disastrous direction of our eating obsessions, food worship and sugar gluttony. The tribal aspect of the work interests me the most. Historically First Nations people would use what surrounded them to adorn and embellish themselves. If that were the case today, what would we use? Would we be adorning ourselves in a mass of synthetic and overly saturated sugary treats in order to express ourselves or worship this sugar god we have created? It’s this mix of idolism that is incredibly interesting, and also poignant as we enter a new time where a backlash against the sugar giants that have dominated for so long is occurring. In 2007 Tony the Tiger from Frosties was banned from all advertising due to the products sugar levels, in 2013 New York City limited the size of soft drinks, and more recently Tesco removed confectionary from it’s checkouts to curb our increased sugar addiction. I only have to watch my nieces and nephews devour a bag of candy like crack whores to realise how detrimental these food items can be.
It’s a strange addition this sugary one, and like Ostrer’s work it’s polarizing. Visually, I want to lick these models and chew on their necklaces, to worship them on their candy coated plinths, but the sickness of it all would only result in a serious bout of self loathing.
James Ostrer’s work was new to me, but seeing this for the first time literally made me exclaim out loud. The rest of his work does the same. If you’re in London Wasit All About is on until September 11 at Gazelli Art House. Go check it out.