Foto/Industria, at its fifth edition, proposes a number (11 to be precise) of photographic exhibitions that enliven the city and that are in fascinating locations. “FOOD” is the common thread of the 2021 edition of Foto/Industria, the Biennial first-ever dedicated to Photography on Industry and Work, promoted by Fondazione MAST. In ultra-modern locations such as the Fondazione MAST, which hosts the exhibition by Ando Gilardi, in historical sites, under the high vaults of a former church that turned into a library or in noble palaces, photographs interact with the frescoes, creating a contrast that enhances both of them.
Food is a subject of the utmost importance because of its connections with philosophy, history, biology, science, politics and economics. And all this calls for reflections on the complexity of the “food theme”.
According to the Biennial’s artistic director and curator, Francesco Zanot, “Food is a key gauge for analyzing and understanding entire civilizations. The ways in which food is produced, distributed, sold, bought and consumed are constantly changing, yet they always encapsulate certain distinctive features of any era, historical period, or cultural and social milieu”.
“Like photography, food is a language that incorporates and disseminates messages. Moreover, photography and food are both closely linked to technology”, Zanot adds.
Each exhibition within the Foto/Industria Biennial is a “case study”, and all together they span a century, from the 1920s to today, dealing with, for instance, the food industry and its impact on the landscape, markets and local traditions, the relationship between nutrition and geography; fishing at sea and in rivers, the mechanisation of cultivation and farming. As they are photos about food (not of food), they try to look into the complexity of a topic that involves many fields. And both (food and photography) tend to globalization, whilst retaining their own special features.
The exhibition Fototeca, at MAST, is devoted to Ando Gilardi, an eclectic protagonist of the Italian history of photography, showing his photographic reportages as well as materials from his legendary iconographic archive, founded in 1959. In the very centre of Bologna, one can visit the other exhibitions, like Schokoladenfabrik (1928) by Hans Finsler, one of the fathers of objective photography in the 1930s, M + Trails by Takashi Homma, and Favignana, which depicts tuna slaughter (1951) by Herbert List. The Biennial photographic itinerary includes Factory of Original Desires by Bernard Plossu and Laboratory of forms by Jan Groover. Moreover, Vivien Sansour presents Palestine Heirloom Seed Library, on the protection of biodiversity, while Henk Wildschut displays Food, images of new technologies for the increasingly intensive and extensive food industry production. And finally, there are In the Belly of the Beast by Mishka Henner, Fisheye by Maurizio Montagna and Money must be made, dealing with the biggest market in Lagos in Nigeria, by Lorenzo Vitturi.
Collecting so many cues on the food industry allows to range from objective photography to still life and minimalism, from blow-ups and abstraction to the standardization of the food (and its peculiarities), to the speed of consumption of the resources. Not to mention metaphysical photography, traditions and ethnography studies, curiosities, too, in order to highlight the complexity of relations between people and food. Food also concerns economic and geopolitical issues, awareness and information.
The Foto/Industria 2021 catalogue has a particular slant: it can be suitable both next to the pantry or on the bookshelf in the study. “It’s a hybrid. It’s a volume that blends the worlds of photography and cuisine created by chef and writer Tommaso Melilli, who interprets the images and themes of each exhibition as an original dish”, Zanot says. And the catalogue, like the direct experience of visiting the exhibitions, allow us “to explore, starting with the images, the past and present of a subject that concerns us every day of our lives”.
FOTO/INDUSTRIA . V Biennial of Photography on Industry and Work . FOOD
October 14 through November 28, 2021