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Someone once said (I believe it was Jack Nicholson in character, playing The Joker in the 1989 Tim Burton film Batman) “I don’t know if it’s art, but I LIKE IT!”
Looking at artist Sarah Smith’s latest ersatz food sculptures has this same effect. Except the more I contemplate them, the more I am convinced this work IS art…and effective art at that.
Part of Smith’s inspiration comes from the cultural differences found when it comes to food preparation and presentation. From her experiences, European’s tend to favor and appreciate food that not only tastes good but looks just as good to match. In the discipline known as culinary arts, the appearance of food is intrinsically linked with the skill of the chef and also with the intended effect on the consumer. In other words, form effects function. Strong components in any art form, Sarah Smith has applied this notion to fake food, emphasizing and reminding the viewer that strong physical reactions can be manipulated through visual presentation. Now that I think about it I’m convinced that Smith’s work IS not only art, it is art of substance both figuratively and literally.
Historically, food has been linked with human emotion and health. Consider this: Apples are associated with our health and death. The “perfect” apple and the “poison” apple. “An apple a day keeps the doctor away.”
Symbiosis of food and the human body. Cucumber slices and orange slices are a remedy for tired eyes and worry lines. Black eyes are healed with a raw steak. Aromatherapy consisting on some level as ‘concentrated scents of food’ (coconut, vanilla, bananas….attempts to create a strong physical reaction such as calming through an associated mental- visual representation. But why is that and is this what Smith is asking us with her food? How do we feel when we see a raw pork chop?
“Uncooked Pork Chop” We didn’t get a chance to ask Sarah if she is a vegan. “Uncooked Pork Chop” We didn’t get a chance to ask Sarah if she is a vegan.
So it’s connections like this that demand we consider Smith’s artistic motivation. Her work exists on many levels. Is it hyper-realism? Surrealism? Pop-art? I believe it is all of those things and much, much more. Sarah Smith is currently preparing for exhibitions in Alberta, Canada CP