Mi Casa Es Tu Casa - A Human Metropolis
"Food is a storyteller and connects us.
It gives us a sense of community."
MARIANNE INTERVIEWED BY MARIJE MARTENS
Marianne (artist name: MarpLondon) is a visual artist that aims to confront people with new ideas. In her project 'Mi Casa Es Tu Casa', she captured new culinary fusions, in order to show that cultural exchange and traditions are not mutually exclusive.
YOU SAY THAT FOOD IS A STORYTELLER. WHAT IS THE STORY THAT YOU WANT TO TELL WITH YOUR IMAGES?
"That people who have been dispersed from their homeland are as much native to a site, as the natives are 'dispersed' from their own land."
HOW DID YOU COME TO REALISE FOOD IS SUCH A POWERFUL STORYTELLER?
"I see food as a conversation, an exchange of wisdom, a cultural and regional insight, a kinship with nature, and love with first sight - when lucky. A happy stomach can affect even the toughest characters."
HOW DID YOU START WORKING ON THIS PROJECT?
"Food is an on-going theme in my work. It's a tool of soft diplomacy. Food is the fabric of a city. Food can replicate a scent of home or deliver a taste of something new. I wanted to visualise the exchange that takes place between newcomers and natives, through the language of food."
"Often this exchange is considered as a loss of identity, when in reality it's actually the complete opposite that takes place. It's more like building a house: each new level is built on a lower level, yet each level remains authentic. Or like getting married, where one's (old) identity expands and includes a new identity and thereby acquirers a deeper identity. The same happens when different type of food meet and unite. The wholeness (food) transcends, but new ingredients are included and a new fusion cuisine arises. What better way to meet someone than to meet over a meal?"
WHAT DO YOU HOPE TO ACHIEVE WITH YOUR PHOTOGRAPHY?
"Great question. Pictures can be found everywhere nowadays, so from that point of view, I wish to create strong photographs that capture people’s imagination and hopefully leave a lasting imprint of this moment in time."
WHERE ARE THE DISHES FROM THAT YOU'VE PHOTOGRAPHED, AND HOW DID YOU SELECT THEM?
"The food is a mix of Nordic open-sandwiches, sprinkled with Asian flowers that are eatable, home-baked cake à la grandmother style and Turkish Baklava. The decor is a mixture of plastic mats and bowls, Royal Danish porcelain, fabric from Dubai, a tea pot set from Lebanon and a plate from Morocco. A melting pot of references, in order to create something new. This series can be seen as a food fairytale à la H.C.Andersen. It's meant to inspire, to (e)merge, to marry, to create and to dream."
HOW DO YOU THINK YOUR WORK ADDS TO HOW WE PERCEIVE DIFFERENT CULTURES?
"Shifting perceptions often only works for people who are already open-minded and curious by nature, or to those who willingly want to expand their horizon. I know that my work has sparked people’s imagination and has created a few ‘aha’ or ‘awe’ moments, but it also provoked people."
WHY DID YOU BECOME A PHOTOGRAPHER?
Photography is a part of my art & design practice. I am a visual person that is the way I see and understand the world.
ARE YOU INTERESTED IN THE CONCEPT OF CULTURAL IDENTITY?
"I am, but then I am not. I think we are focusing too much on identity politics, which is being used as a politicised weapon to sow doubt and division. Identity politics creates no unity, it's a lie. It's about power, not about equality. The more fragmented a society becomes, the easier it is to manipulate and to control that society. The UK and US are living examples of this."
WHAT IS YOUR PERSONAL FOOD STORY?
There is this bistro restaurant in Paris called 'Le Chateaubriand'. When we went there for the first time, it wasn’t possible to book a table, so we had to wait until a table became available. We were seated at the bar and given a glass of wine and got entertained by the waiters and everyone else who was waiting. When we were finally seated at a table, the waiter gave us a 7-course tasting menu, whilst casually telling us that the chef might decide to serve something entirely different, depending on his mood. We looked at the smiling waiter, who said: 'The food will either be amazing or really awful.' It was crazy. The best place in Paris."
YOU HAVE DECIDED TO DONATE YOUR PROFITS FROM THIS SERIES TO THE CAMPAIN 'PRINTS FOR REFUGEES'. HOW DID THAT COME ABOUT AND COULD YOU TELL US A LITTLE MORE ABOUT WHY THIS CHARITY (DOCTORS OF THE WORLD) IS SO IMPORTANT TO YOU?
"I think it's a noble cause and a great campaign for both the buyer and receiver simultaneously. The buyer gets a photograph of his/her choice, style and price, while all the money goes to Doctors of the World.
WHAT TYPE OF FOOD MAKES YOU FEEL AT HOME?
"My sweet tooth, the most stubborn tastebud."