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在线翻译:
szdaily -> Culture
You are what you eat
    2017-December-12  08:53    Shenzhen Daily

Cao Zhen

caozhen0806@126.com

WHILE many designers attempt to incorporate new materials into their creations, Dutch designer Marije Vogelzang returns to a basic human necessity — food — in her artwork.

“I’m a lousy object designer and I can’t work with wood, ceramics or metal,” said Vogelzang on Dec. 2 at a lecture before opening her debut exhibition in China. She is exhibiting 14 eating-related installations at the “Eating Design” exhibition in OCT Art & Design Gallery in Shenzhen.

When Vogelzang was studying at Design Academy Eindhoven in the Netherlands, she searched for the perfect materials to express herself, experimenting with many materials, as budding designers do. “One night when I was cooking my dinner in the kitchen, I found this is actually my workshop and my food and ingredients are my materials. Why wouldn’t I start with that?”

She then began to think about every subject surrounding food and eating, such as psychology, ritual, agriculture, etiquette, history and ecology. She calls herself an eating designer rather than a food designer. “Food is already perfectly designed by the nature. When choosing work with food as a subject, shapes, patterns and colors matter, but we can also consider the word ‘eating’ as the base of inspiration.”

Vogelzang said her first eating design was a meal for a Dutch funeral in 1999. After researching the funeral rituals of various cultures, she opted to use white and light-flavored food to create a serene atmosphere for the funeral.

“In the Netherlands, people dress in black, drink coffee and eat sponge cake at funerals, while in some other cultures, people dress in white and eat meals together to absorb the mourning process, so I made an alternative for a Dutch funeral.” Through that, she believed that she made something entering human bodies that would trigger something emotional.

Later, she was invited several times to design Christmas dinners, but her initial thought was that a Christmas dinner has already been over-designed. After five to six years, thinking of Christmas as a time when people eat together and get connected, she used a long table with a tablecloth, but instead of putting the cloth on the table, she made slits in it and suspended it in the air.

Forty participants who didn’t know each other were invited to sit with their heads inside the space and their bodies outside. “This physically connects each person: If I pull on the cloth here, you can feel it there. Covering everyone’s clothing also created a sense of equality. I didn’t want to close people up in my design, so everyone was given scissors and could cut the tablecloth free at any time. People were very formal when they entered the lunch, but later they were playful and shared food,” said Vogelzang.

At the opening of her Shenzhen exhibition, Vogelzang invited visitors to experience “Grazing City Scapes,” an activity involving eating food without using utensils. Desserts and fruits were placed on the bottoms of bottles and drinking glasses, which were all placed upside down. Arranged on a nice clean and long table, the fresh desserts looked classy, but when the diners bended their neck deep down and grazed the food, the funny scene made for a powerful visual shock.

Vogelzang said: “When eating with cutlery or chopsticks, we open our mouths but do not use our lips where the highest density of nerve endings are located. ‘Grazing City Scapes’ is an ode to our sensuous, animalistic side in a cultivated way.”

Many of Vogelzang’s projects used feeding as the subject, an intimate human act. For the “Edible Reflections” installation, visitors were seated at the tables with mirrors. A mouth cut in the mirror in front of every participant disrupted the reflection of their own faces. The participants were then asked to feed tangerines to each other through the mouth cut-out.

Vogelzang said this project was created as part of an initiative to get immigrants and locals connected. “In our life, we project everything to things outside of ourselves and to others but perhaps it’s good to take a look at ourselves first. The way to accept another person is by accepting ourselves. I think it is important to understand that it is not only about the locals accepting the immigrants. It is about both parties accepting the other human being and the other situation.”

Vogelzang’s other projects question food industry and health. “Volumes” contains a series of objects that are placed directly on the plates between the food.

“Behavioral research shows that our brain uses our visual capacities to register the amount of food we have eaten. For example, if we eat shelled peanuts and leave the shells on the table, we will eat less than if we would take the shells away directly after eating the peanuts. Most of us seem to rely on the size or the volume of the food to tell us when we’re full. By giving more attention to the presentation of our food we might be able to change our mindless consumption behavior into a mindful experience,” she said.

Vogelzang also works as a creative consultant for food companies, supermarkets and restaurant chains, offering innovative business solutions, such as Nestle, Absolut Vodka and P&G.

Claiming that she is the first eating designer in the Netherlands, she started the world’s first bachelor’s degree program in food design at the Design Academy Eindhoven in 2014, training a new generation to think differently. “Eating design is an uncultivated area with an endless amount of possibilities that might not be obvious at first glance. I hope the students will tackle more issues within the subject of food,” she said.

Dates: Until March 4, 2018

Hours: 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m., closed Mondays

Tickets: 8 yuan (students and teachers), 15 yuan (adults), free (children under 1.1 meters, seniors aged above 60, soldiers and people with disabilities), free to the public Tuesdays

Venue: OCT Art & Design Gallery, 9009 Shennan Boulevard, Nanshan District (南山区深南大道9009号华-美术馆)

Metro: Line 1, OCT Station (华侨城

站), Exit C

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Shenzhen Daily E-mail:szdaily@szszd.com.cn