carmen alemán


Can we say "We are what we eat"?

This series is an observation of, and a comment on, contemporary society, our food habits, what we eat, or don't eat, how we eat and why.

Food has become more than a necessity in the western world. It is a commodity, a fetish. Food and eating is as much marked by pleasure as it is by power and we eat according to social rules.

Food, what is selected, how it is presented, how it is eaten, with whom and when, is one of the means by which society invents itself. We demonstrate the preferences and principles of our culture in the way we treat food. The use of food can represent society's views and ideals. As individuals, we devour culture, we consume and digest identities.

Junk/fast food is the menu of the 21st century. We live fast and eat fast. Consequently, the food industry is transforming not only our diets, but the way we think, relate to others, our culture, economy and landscape. Not only is the geographic landscape changing but also our bodyscapes, often leading to obesity.

The whole experience of buying and eating junk food has become routine, so mundane that it is taken for granted. It has become a social custom. Hundreds of people eat junk food every day without giving it much thought. They don't think about where it comes from, how it was made and what it is doing to the community and the environment.

We, as individuals, can be described as 'mouth machines'. Our body and senses are connected when we eat, we use our eyes, nose, mouth, tongue, hands, stomach, intestine and bowels etc. The mouth and the anus are connected.

Our encounter with food connects us with surfaces, textures, tastes and smells, inside and outside. The images show people's body language and the awakening of all of their senses. They depict close-ups of mouths, hand and feet, displayed in groups of three images, to symbolize the passage of food and the digestive track, through the mouth, stomach and waste.

The images are both attractive and disturbing, the nature of disgusting versus the nature of pleasure. This is a similar feeling produced when eating junk food, because it tastes good, and it comforts us. Junk food is designed to taste good.

Eating is linked with almost every aspect of our existence, from religious practices to psychological principles of self-definition. It can be a vehicle of desire, sensuality, greed, solace, punishment, obe isa nce, self-love or self hate. It can exalt or degrade. However, eating is intimate. At the end of the day, eating is still a personal and subjective act.