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Agitprop: 'street' Food

exposing the food drain epedemic

Up to 40% of all the food produced in the United States never gets eaten.

Americans throw away up to $165 billion worth of food annually,

averaging 20 pounds/person every month.

Over 49 million Americans, nearly 1 in 5 New Yorkers, live in food insecure households.

Meaning that in some point of the year, they struggle to put food on the table.

Food waste is the single largest source of methane gas in landfills,

methane being one of the strongest greenhouse gasses there are.

This triad of challenges— the social, economical and environmental impacts of food waste— has made stopping the food drain a critical issue for global communities. Impacts here in the United States are staggering but not amongst the worst around the globe. Many regions remain as food desserts. 

 

As a native New Yorker, living in amidst a plethora of restaurants, markets and grocers is such a pleasure and fortune; but sadly, the food waste is equally in excess and I am faced with them on a daily basis. From working as a server to working in a kitchen, or observing fellow diners at a restaurant, but what caught my attention are the food I come across on the streets. Dropped or thrown- disposed by their original owners. 

 

Starting 5 years ago, I have an ongoing collection of photographs capturing food wastage, predominantly photographing the said remnants left on the side of the streets- some are here in New York, and a few from my travels to different cities. I hope to print them out on 1:1 scale and transform them into wheat paste posters, superimposing them back into their original location where I photographed them in. The locations I took these photographs in happen to be highly dense metropolitan areas, which I think serve to ideal locations for raising awareness to his food drain epidemic. Urbanisation has shown to amplify food wastage. 

 

Through the process of collecting these photographs, I’ve often found myself photographing along the same streets over and over again, quite often on blocks near schools or shopping districts and tourist heavy neighbourhoods. Imagine the posters eventually occupying certain streets, covering the entire sidewalk, and turning into an upfront and perhaps overwhelming statement, reminding us of the impending troubles that we, as a global community, are facing. 

 

Incorporating and infiltrating the cityscape, these set of posters melt into the environment as well as play the environment as an extension, a prosthesis of itself- be the people, the audience, the changing light from the sun, the cars driving by, the soundscape.…

 

Furthermore, the medium of the posters itself embodies some philosophies of the Fluxus group, 

being a medium with no conception of the eventual end— the posters may eventually erode, get pasted over or perhaps go on…. there is no concrete end, and every poster, depending on its location may transform in its own unique way. I want this collection to be considered a collage pasted into the city,  or rather, a collage of the of the city itself, cut by the camera, and pasted back with the posters. 

The subject of the photographs also concurs with the beliefs of the Dada movement, somewhat of the anti-art, it is found, trashed food on the street, photographed and composed, turned posters and thrown back on to the streets, yet again, free for people to trample over, destroy, or  gaze at, if that’s what they want. It is an appropriation of the environment. Taken, altered and put back.The life span of the posters echoing that of the food in our country. Some may be savoured but most trashed and discarded, disregarded. It is littered. 

The original story behind these photos were simply just a personal jest on how sad and lonely dropped food on the streets looked, sometimes, perhaps even desperate. I started photographing these scenes for personal enjoyment.

 

By way of re-appropriating these photos and throwing them back on the streets I hope to bring awareness to the food drain outbreak. Even if it means to prompt people to be more aware and careful of their food and dropping it on their streets, this should be a bridge into further conversation and discussion about the issue at large, and further actions to start prevention and conservation.