Gourmet Drama-Yinling Hsu Solo Exhibition
“Everything you eat means something.”
The story began with an incident. It was about a body found in a house. Not a single grain of rice was found in the deceased’s stomach; and no signs of struggle of any kind were discovered as well. The ambience of the room was more or less delightful with a slight hint of decay. Among the few things she left behind was a notebook filled with recipes she had recorded as well as all the food she had eaten in her life and the memories related to those dishes. From the self-explanatory flounder, to the cup cakes that thawed a tough front, to the worry-resolving delicacy that was the sizzling teppanyaki, to the reliable sets of steaks enjoyed in silence, through an intricate analysis of the tongue, these daily dishes seemed to epitomize some bewildering social phenomenon, creating a sense of hunger, fear, and happiness. On the last page of the notebook, the entry explained that she chose to refrain from eating anything until her death. It was neither because of a religious fasting nor an extreme, self-inflicted behavior; it was because she felt certain and decided that the amazing nutrients of the food were no longer needed.
This work centers on “food” and develops a series of observations on our society. It focuses on the relationships between individuals as well as those of between individuals and the society. It further analyzes them in terms of the theme, “food,” gathers and transforms them into plots of gourmet dramas. “Everything you eat means something.” Human being’s diet is an accumulation of vast experiences, ranging from the mere need to stop hunger to a manifestation of pursuing a better life, from the exquisite art of dining to the down-to-earth clangor of knives and spatulas, and making choices to get different daily meat, vegetable and fruit. These images, whether about people or food, hopefully convey a message—because human being could not survive without food, we might as well sincerely face what is inevitably happening around us. At such a moment, as if revealing human being’s every desire, our diet honestly represents the current state of our society.
Another reason that this work centers on food is because of the associations that have been imposed on the images of food. In addition to being interpreted physically, food has always been associated with the senses of taste and smell. As time changes, people have formed strong attachments to certain food. Besides the fact that some food requires specific culinary techniques, dining has become a vital means to bond with people because it is rather simple to interpret the world through food. It could be easily associated with various characters, classes, and circumstances. Nevertheless, it is also quite often that once a type of food is thus associated, it becomes more complicated like the human heart. It might hide behind a certain degree of ambiguity, or it might not live up to its name. It could go bad easily, or it could be pickled for longer preservation. Sometimes, people even prefer the fermented.
It is exactly among these familiar, unsurprising incidents and accidents, the most common yet profound emotions are camouflaged and observed. I have always been hoping to express this kind of established connection through paintings because these invisible scenes are usually the most truthful concealed in the reality.
> HSU Yin-Ling 許尹齡