Sunday, August 11, 2013

Best of Show - Research at WI State Fair 2013

L's dream job, arrangements of winners in the Horticulture Building, showing off the culinary specimens to best advantage. 

Real and Unreal Food: Research at WI State Fair 2013

Inspiration Analytical and Physical: Biology Explored by Eran Gilat and Ellen Cantor

Erin Gilant
Erin Gilant

Erin Gilant
Eran Gilant's Life Science series  (above) are elegant, memento mori which juxtapose biological specimens with implements both domestic and quasi-scientific.  They are at once clinical, classical and sexualized. 
"My "Life Science” project situates biological tissue into relatively pleasant, sometimes artificial scenarios, contemplating issues of materialism, erotica and mortality, corresponding with the complicated and intriguing category of “Animal Reminder” in the visual arts."

Ellen Cantor's project, (below) Unorthodox Anatomy, has food as a human biological stand in…as spinal column, raw and sliced.  "For this series, I have created a visualization of what my spine looks like to me--not the real spine, but an unorthodox view of my anatomy. These photographs convey my feelings of living with a disability, the pain of aging and daily confrontation with my mortality." 

All work addresses the contradictions of biological beauty and function.

Ellen Cantor
Ellen Cantor

Ellen Cantor

Friday, August 2, 2013

IMAGE 37 Feature Interview - Ponder Food As Love

Writer Charlotte Woolf has intereviewed Barbara for a feature in the Filter Photo Festival's Blog - IMAGE 37.  They discussed our exhibition, Ponder Food as Love at the Ralph Arnold Fine Arts Annex at Loyola University, Chicago.
Thanks, Charlotte and Filter Fest!

All quotes from an interview between the author and Barbara Ciurej.
All subsequent photos courtesy Ciurej & Lochman Collaborative Projects.
Photographers Barbara Ciurej and Lindsey Lochman, together known as Ciurej & Lochman Collaborative Projects, have been working together since the 1980s. Their most recent project, Ponder Food as Love, is exhibiting through April 13th at the Ralph Arnold Fine Arts Annex of Loyola University. The project began during Ciurej and Lochman’s two-week residency at Ragdale in 2010.
Our studio happened to be next to the kitchen, and because we didn’t have to prepare this food, both of us were suddenly like, ‘there is so much that goes into [the prepation].’ It is so much more than the food…that makes people feel nurtured and convivial – and what’s going on is this exchange. … At the time, we were also reading Michael Pollan’s The Omnivore’s Dilemma and he asks this questions that I remember as, how is it that the alchemies of photosynthesis transform into the pleasures and delights of culture?

Quickly, the project became about more than just food and the body: “It became the huge, ineffable topic of what is love, being nourished emotionally and physically – the nature of nurturing.” The human body’s innate need for sustenance can provoke raw, powerful emotions. Across different cultures, the need for nourishment intersects with the natural desire for interpersonal human relationships.
  • One body of work that the duo connected with was Pablo Neruda’s 100 Love Sonnets. Neruda’s descriptions of the body and earth paralleled the themes that Ciurej and Lochman had been exploring in their own project. They had such a connection to Neruda’s sonnets that they assigned lines from these poems as the titles of each piece. Ciurej and Lochman reference the line “the transmigration of dream into salad” in their artist statement, explaining that “so, too, do these images hover between the earth and transcendence.” Ciurej adds, “I think with Neruda, he’s talking about the body as dirt and fruit, but also as universe and gateway.”
Another choice that was informed by historical influences was the combining of round and square canvas shapes. After taking a step back from their work, Ciurej and Lochman realized that:
The tondos looked like petri dishes, microscopes, and universes. The tondo was the form you’d see in the Renaissance with the Holy Family. … The form itself has a long artistic historical tradition, but was kind of abandoned because it was too domestic. Still, it was always meant to encapsulate a universe. So I started looking at each photo as a micro and macrocosm…

For inspiration, the duo also researched botanical illustration and still life prints. Regarding the square images:
They felt like little stages, the way we constructed the scenes in them. This is what sometimes happens in your work when you get away from the emotions that fueled it. You see it in a more cosmic mode.
I watched this video called The Overview Effect about the astronauts who peered out the windows for the first time and saw this blue earth floating in space. All of them had a cognitive shift about how things were connected. What was interesting in the video…they were describing what some people would describe as a religious experience but they said it so scientifically – it was all connected under this thin layer of clouds and it created a sense of awe. They felt so small yet privileged to be on the earth: a simultaneous long view and compression of micro and macrocosms. So I had this with my work. I began to see the works as universes.
After getting feedback on the series, Ciurej and Lochman found that each still life of the body adorned with fruit had countless cultural associations. The two also noted that some people were uncomfortable with certain images in the exhibition.
A lot of these have a darker side to them, where you’re feeling used up or suffocated by it, or penetrated by it, or totally immersed. The bodies are showing a little bit of wear – it’s the price of all of this, of our humanity, deeply tied with our mortality.
Each image acts as a microcosmic representation of the human experience of food. Which is exactly what Ciurej and Lochman set out to accomplish.
Ponder Food as Love is on view at the Ralph Arnold Fine Arts Annex at Loyola University through this Saturday, April 13th. The gallery is open to members of the Loyola community daily from 8 am - 10 pm, and to members of the general public on Saturday from 12 pm - 4 pm.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Inspired by: Betsy Schneider, Martha Rossler, Maria Marshall

Betsy Schneider Extremist Inspirations

"All For Your Delight: Candy" is an elegant compendium of the sublime and ridiculous manifestations of sugar.

Martha Rossler Semiotics In The Kitchen

We were reminded to review meanings and signs of domestic life in 1975. 
Rossler captures some mind-numbing relentlessness in her performance.

Maria Marshall Considers Fear and Myth

So simple and so true, Maria Marshall addresses our maternal fears. Will visualizing  assuage the fear or make it more intolerable?

Ponder Food as Love at Loyola University

March 14 through April 13, 2013

Installation - Ponder Food As Love

Reception: Thursday, March 14  5 – 6:30 PM
Artists talk and walk through 7:00pm
Ponder Food as Love.  Contemplate the pleasures, tensions and insistent dramas of nourishment.

 Photographic collaborators Barbara Ciurej and Lindsay Lochman investigate of the physical and emotional energy that flows through the preparation and sharing of food. It is through these exchanges that we find sustenance. The the earthbound and the sublime coalesce in the tasks of nurturing. The body becomes serving plate, altar, banquet and booty – it is offered and is feasted upon. The line between serving and self dissolves.

Ciurej and Lochman collaborate on photographic projects that address the confluence of history, myth and popular culture. Their collaborative practice developed from their work as students at the Institute of Design/Illinois Institute of Technology and in Chicago's alternative art scene. They have been exhibiting work since 1980 and are in public and private collections including the Art Institute of Chicago, Museum of Contemporary Photography, Chicago History Museum, Walker Art Center and Milwaukee Art Museum. Their work was selected for Critical Mass, included in Review Santa Fe 100, and recently exhibited at Schneider Gallery (Chicago) and The Portrait Society Gallery (Milwaukee). Ciurej is a photographer/graphic designer in Chicago. Lochman is a Milwaukee-based photographer and Senior Lecturer at the University of Wisconsin. 

Processed Views: 2 Cape Horn....and Corn

Processed Views Cornscape - Test 1
Processed Views - Cornscape Test 2 
Monumental Cape Horn inspired us to consider the monumental mountain of corn that looms over Americans' diet. 

Corn is the keystone species of the industrial food system, along with its sidekick, soybeans, with which it shares a rotation on most of the farms in the Midwest. I'm really talking about cheap corn — overproduced, subsidized, industrial corn — the biggest legal cash crop in America. Eighty million acres — an area twice the size of New York State — is blanketed by a vast corn monoculture like a second great American lawn...
Overproduction sooner or later leads to overconsumption, because we’re very good at figuring out how to turn surpluses into inexpensive, portable new products. Our cheap, value-added, portable corn commodity is corn sweetener, specifically high-fructose corn syrup. But we also dispose of overproduction in corn-fed beef, pork, and chicken. And now we're even teaching salmon to eat corn, because there's so much of it to get rid of.
There is a powerful industrial logic at work here, the logic of processing. We discovered that corn is this big, fat packet of starch that can be broken down into almost any basic organic molecules and reassembled as sweeteners and many other food additives. Of the 37 ingredients in chicken nuggets, something like 30 are made, directly or indirectly, from corn.
--- Michael Pollan

Pollan has written extensively about the American diet. Additional information at:

Numerous articles address not only the destruction of our own digesters, but also the destruction to the land created by industrial monoculture agricultural practices.

Processed Views: 2 Form Follows Geology - Castle Rock

As we considered the industrial food landscape, the Castle Rock formation inspired a vision of the birth of supersized fries, emerging from a silvery slick deep frier river.
Processed Views - Test for Fried Panorama

Processed Views: 1 Cape Horn - Columbia River by Carleton Watkins

Watkins came to California's gold rush with his boyhood friend Collis P. Huntington, who later gained fame as one of the "Big Four" of the Central Pacific Railroad. While neither succeeded in the gold fields, Huntington found success in the railroad and supplied Watkins with occasional employment and never ending free transportation. Huntington Died in 1900.  His last job was photographing home of Phoebe Apperson Hearst, esteemed philanthropist and mother of Wm. Randolph. Watkins could not complete the job due to failing eyesight. He then retired to his small ranch in Yolo County, deeded to him by Huntington's Southern Pacific Railroad for past services. But he never recovered from the shock of losing his life's works, and in 1910 he was moved to Napa State Hospital for the insane, where he died at the age of 87.

Processed Views: 2 Panorama of Avarice - The March of History

Inspired by Watkins' City on a Hill, we considered the source of some of our food traditions. Many ancient cultures, in an effort to make use of all parts of an animal, rendered the fat to obtain oil for cooking. The chicharron originated in Spain and is popular in most Spanish speaking countries. Pork rinds are a traditional food is prevalent throughout Asia and Europe. 
Processed Views - Chiccarrone Panorama Detail

 Regardless of the history, consider the consequences. The upsurge in the consumption of snack food lead researchers at Scripps Research Institute to conclude that junk food consumption alters brain activity in a manner similar to addictive drugs like cocaine or heroin.  After many weeks with unlimited access to junk food, the pleasure centers of rat brains became desensitized, requiring more food for pleasure. After the junk food was taken away and replaced with a healthy diet the rats starved for two weeks instead of eating nutritious fare.

Find a short history of the rise of American junk food at

Processed Views: 1 Panorama of Avarice - City on the Hill, New Almaden, California by Carleton Watkins

New Almaden, located near San Jose, CA became a mining center in l845. It was the most prominent quicksilver (mercury) mine in the Western Hemisphere. Through the nineteenth century mining interests were able to purchase public land for their private use at a cost of no more than $5 per acre through the process of "claim" patents.  Watkins took many  landscapes and extensively documented mining in California.