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Art Spotlight: Surrealist food photography

Saiba Haque explores the surrealism in food and cooking through the art of photography.

By Saiba Haque, Food Editor

Upon conducting research for the February print issue for The Croft Magazine, I was looking into surrealism in food/cooking. I soon found Salvador Dali’s cult cookbook (Les Diners de Gala) filled with vibrant illustrations and photographs of food taking on the aesthetics of his surrealist fantasies. The dishes featured in this cookbook were presented in the surreal and eccentric styles of his usual works which made for a visually impactful experience.

I was struck with inspiration after seeing a lithographic photo work called Les Panaches Pananaches (Assorted Panaches). The inspiration from this led me to cook, present and conduct a photoshoot with shrimps and a whole seabass. The outcome of this direct inspiration was the piece that I would like to call The Invasion of the Seabass; displaying the cooked food (mainly the shrimps) as surreally coming to life, taking over the seabass by piercing through it. A rather brutal scene!

The second piece, An Internal Tragedy, further plays with this idea. There appears to be a shrimp with a severed head which seemingly looks like it fell out of a jar. However, it also appears that the rest of the shrimp, in the jar of shrimp stock, are in utter chaos, whilst another shrimp is trying to escape the scene. What may have happened? Would this in any way be related to the Invasion of the Seabass as well? That's up to the interpretation of the observer.

An Internal Tragedy, Courtesy of Saiba Haque

Both of the photographs aim to blur the lines between the tangibility of real life and surrealist fantasy. Which is why the background/set-up of the whole piece, in both photographs, is intentionally made to look like it's taking place in a makeshift photo studio, to symbolise the pursuit of creativity and ideas coming to life.

Featured Image: The Invasion of the Seabass, courtesy of Saiba Haque