On 15 November 2010, UNESCO inscribed the gastronomic meal of the French on the List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. By “gastronomic”, UNESCO did not mean haute cuisine or even good food, but rather the eating and drinking rules that continue to provide a structure for French meals today.
The idea behind this exhibition is to show how photos can tell the story of how this heritage has evolved. From the re-colorized autochromes of the First World War to the tens of millions of #foodporn images, and from a single family’s collection of photo albums spanning more than 40 years to the saga told by the cooking pages of Elle magazine, Food for the Eyes retraces the singular history of the French population’s relationship with mealtime.
This century of depicting our meals is covered from the perspectives of big names in photography, whose images are becoming iconic documents as time passes. Those images are placed alongside those taken from a collection of amateur photos, advertising images, press images and excerpts from cult TV shows.
This archaeological dig through our consumer patterns, our resistances and our commitments, in respect of both images and our food, is also a timeline of how the ways that we disseminate and share photography have changed.