Food 4.0 

The Czekalinski Metamorphosis


When considering Verdiana Albano’s clinical-looking images and abstract-looking augmented reality objects, a connection to the 1951 Life Magazine photograph entitled The Czekalinski Family would perhaps not immediately occur to most. But what at first seems like an arranged advertising photograph for a supermarket turns out to be as much an all-around staged visualization of a research result. Based on statistics from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the typical amount of two and a half tons of food that an average working class family of the 1950s consumed in a year was built up in one place for the photograph. Following this model, Verdiana Albano also calculated, in cooperation with a mathematician and on the basis of the GENESIS database of the Federal Statistical Office of Germany, an exemplary basket of goods of an average German household for the year 2022. For each of the fifteen food subgroups a representative was chosen. In the analog photography laboratory Verdiana Albano directly projected onto photographic paper.

The results are enlarger derived artistic-looking photograms without the use of a camera, into which the foodstuffs were indexically inscribed. Generously passe-partured in the aluminum frame, however, the images lose their documentary-illustrative character and become mere signs of human research. What in reality is the enlarged light imprint of a foodstuff on photographic paper now appears to us like a zoomed-in, microscopic photograph. It becomes a part of a whole that can no longer be identified, and thus gets the effect of a display of the scientific gaze. This impression is reinforced by the delicate technical image designation embossed into the passe-partout, which only allows experts to assign the respective food category of the Federal Statistical Office. Frame dimensions and the choice of cut-outs are also based on calculated variables such as percentages of average food purchases or the golden ratio.

exhibition view food 4.0 the czekalinski metamorphosis text ingrediences of an all natural egg plus framed analog chemigrams of food
exhibition view food 4.0 the czekalinski metamorphosis maxiprint
exhibition view food 4.0 the czekalinski metamorphosis details on test tubes

Art thus becomes completely decomposable into its scientific reference values.

As with other artists who have used food as a point of departure for their work, such as William Henry Fox Talbot (A Fruit Piece, 1845), Dieter Roth (Kleiner Sonnenuntergang, 1968), Peter Fischli and David Weiss (Wurst Series, 1979), or Andreas Gursky (99 Cent, 1999), this is also used in Verdiana Albano’s work as the basis for a discussion about the changing needs of an evolving society. The seemingly almost clinical presentation puts the exploratory gaze on display and thus raises the question of value in our modern world. The Augmented Reality level reinforces this effect: viewers are invited to actively relate to what is presented.Especially in contrast to the shiny digital surface of the Augmented Reality objects, the photograms once again gain in terms of haptic expressiveness.

The closeness to the historical technique of Anna Atkins’ cyanotypes, which are now considered the world’s first photographic works, when juxtaposed with contemporary digital technology seems like a reference to historical processes of industrialization that can also be applied to food production itself. Here the complexity of the series Food 4.0. The Czekalinski Metamorphosis becomes clear, which is evident in the scientific methodology, the subject matter, the technology, as well as the art historical references, without having to loose aesthetic qualities.

Lara Bader - art historian, 2022

exhibition view food 4.0 the czekalinski metamorphosis 3d Augmented reality wall honeystratus
exhibition view food 4.0 the czekalinski metamorphosis detail historic print
exhibition view food 4.0 the czekalinski metamorphosis detail
exhibition view food 4.0 the czekalinski metamorphosis
exhibition view food 4.0 the czekalinski metamorphosis whole exhibition