Food & identity

Robinson, Sally (2015) Food & identity. Mall Galleries.

Abstract

The output is a creative project that explores the concept of food identity as an important cultural and social construct through photography. Research Process: The project is inspired by mainstream images of food in cookbooks, lifestyle magazines and on social media, particularly visual depictions of idealised lifestyles which conjures shared social fantasies, perpetuated by mainstream images and our own internalisation of them. This project spanned a number of years, producing an extensive final body of work. Participants in this project were sourced through word-of-mouth, social media, and an online questionnaire. Final photographs were produced though a collaborative process which involved discussion and negotiation between the subject and photographer. Research Insights: The link between identity and food is cyclical. Food choice is informed by our time/space coordinates – age, nationality, regionality - and our cultural identity, including race, religion, and social class. We use food as an evolving representation of ideological and political identity, constructing ourselves through moral and ethical decisions. Identity can be established through choices such as meat free, dairy free, plant based, low fat, low carb, high protein, high welfare, big brand, small independent, local, international, familiar or exotic. Our relationship with food is complex; passionately held beliefs and values are often expressed through food choice. Food can possess emotional significance and invoke a range of human emotions from gratitude to guilt, from tearful reminiscences to joyful nostalgia. Intimate details and memories from one’s own life are often bound up in perpetuating food practices and rituals. Dissemination: The output was exhibited at Food & Identity, Food Photographer of the Year Finalists Exhibition (2015 & 2017),Mall Galleries, London. May 2015 and April 2017. Food & Identity, Dye House Gallery, Bradford. September 2015. Food & Identity, Bradford Brewery. July 2015. Food & Identity, Hothouse Conference. 21 March 2015.

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