Shape of Appetite
Wallpaper, books and magazines, single-channel video, color, sound, 29 min
Food carving is the art of carving vegetables and fruits in order to form beautiful objects. These objects are decorative and not for eating, therefore they only have an aesthetic value. Meanwhile, the complexity of food carving manually takes a lot of time, it’s difficult to survive under the capitalist logic of maximizing efficiency. We visited different kitchen practitioners: Chinese cuisine senior chefs, “Food carving masters”, chefs of gastronomie moléculaire, post-90s chefs, catering training teachers and more. Within the different kitchens, we listened to how some have witnessed the rise and fall of the catering industry, some pondered on the answer to the impact of marketization, some discussed the “nouvelle” vs. “traditional” cuisine, and some told stories about the scattering of multiple family members due to the the migrant worker generation. Meanwhile, it was not a surprise to find that the occupational structure of the catering industry is still dominated by males.
From the description of the interviewees we could see how the catering industry has been directly and indirectly affected by changes in national policies, demographics, and markets in China, within the context of a gradually growing material culture in China over the recent decades. We could also see how the aesthetic of Food styling responded to the influence of western catering culture during globalization. We tried to understand the structure of consumption aesthetics from their point of view, and asked questions about the consumption demand and aesthetic change in diet within the context of rapid economic development.
*This project is a collaboration between Tang Han and Xiaopeng Zhou.