Little by little you turned into fruit.
The transmigration of dream into salad.
Collaborative duo Barb Ciurej and Lindsay Lochman’s Ponder Food As Love pairs an ethereal and light touch to an important human issue—the relationship between food and the body. Ciurej and Lochman have worked in collaboration since they were students at the Institute of Design (IIT), and their career has grown into a mature melding of imagery and cooperation. Always surprising, always thoughtful, and always beautiful, they produce imagery that is relevant to women in particular. We recently asked them more about this sensual series.
As the fruit burned ripe.
How did this series come about?
“The series began in 2009 during an artists’ residency where we were assigned a studio next to the kitchen. The caring cook put her full energies into the preparation of each evening’s communal meal—these dinners nurtured the artists who gathered and shared food, wine, and conversation. They returned to their studios and, in turn, nourished their art. This ritual prompted us to consider food’s complex physical and social presence in the act of nourishing.”
Fills with years like a swelling cluster of fruit.
What secret clarity opens through your columns.
Although the photographs are of food and the body, they are unlike other pictures we have ever seen of this theme. Tell us more about the visuality present in the series.
“We weren’t interested in sumptuous food photography, but in rendering the connections and imperfections between fragility of flesh and food. The wintry North light of our studio lent a softness and the color palette came from the subtle play of light, capturing a kind of tenderness. We titled the images with excerpts from Pablo Neruda’s 100 Love Poems because his poetry describes the body as both deeply rooted in the earth and a source of transcendence.”
So that your shadow can travel along in my hair.
Light breaks through the tree of life.
Do you think the photographs are about feminist issues, or just women in general?
“We began with the historical and mythical ways women have been associated with the fruitful and fertile—from the cosmic egg to Mother Earth to Ceres, and as preparers of food, child-bearers, and nurturers. As we worked through the series, we began to see the topic as a broader human issue—about human connections to food and nature. So many things are out of balance right now, from how we think about our bodies, to what and how we eat, to our connections with the natural world. We examined these topics as a way to slow down and observe these fraught relationships.”
The handful of earth you are.
Rise from the roots, singing your syllable of sap.
Does aging have anything to do with your motivation for this work?
“Because we have often been the models in our work, we have witnessed how time is recorded on the body. The flesh is not youthful in this work, nor are the fruits and vegetables perfect. The ephemeral fragility of nature has been a meditation on mortality throughout art history.”
Can you talk about the relationship of working together? Most photographers are highly independent and do not want to collaborate with anyone, yet the two of you have been able to work together and maintain a friendship for 35 years.
“While on an extended road trip when we were students, we began to work together on a series of photographs. We found we had similar visual and conceptual sensibilities, which is the bedrock of our long collaboration. Production has always been shared, based on the nature of the project—this has many practical benefits from sharing equipment, skills and costs, to fluidly moving between model and photographer. Our combined research and revelations takes the form of a virtual journal.
A replica of the mulitplying universe.