This past saturday we celebrated Lucas 4th birthday. It was a fun day that was about a month in the making for me. You see, every time I host some kind of celebration for the kids I inevitably end up stressing about what I am going to offer as treats (amongst other things like decorations). There are the easy choices like serving water instead of sodas or juices. But trying to create a sweet yet not toxic menu of treats can be challenging. Don’t get me wrong this is a “challenge” I happily take every time, but it does take some work on my part. This year I opted for a series of cupcakes, including carrot ones, lightly frosted and all home-made. A cucumber mint salad, watermelon and some not so sugary sugar cookies. In the end the kids didn’t seem to mind that the cupcakes where not mostly frosting and nobody asked for soda or juice. I’m sure they have had tastier treats, than those I inexpertly created, but in the end it didn’t matter. They had a blast. I feel sometimes we underestimate our kids capability to strive without high sugar doses.
Sugar does not equate happiness, was my mantra for the weekend. So it felt somewhat prophetic that I ran into the work of british artist James Ostrer. His current series of portraits titled: “Whatsit all about” depict a disturbing obsession with sugar and pop culture. The bright-colored and grotesque images will make you think twice about overindulging in junk food. Ostrer thinks of the work as therapeutic, as he himself battles with sugar and junk food addiction. The work also depicts somewhat of a tribal vibe gone wrong. Like food and our culture have become so overly processed, all we are left with is a synthetic world. “I started with wanting to create new tribes based on what we now eat and how far removed it is from nature,” Ostrer explained to The Huffington Post. “The distance between what comes out of the ground and what we then open from a packet.”
The glossy images also touch on celebrity pop culture. This aberrant need to seek guidance in a world that doesn’t embrace acceptance of self or others. It’s like a vicious circle of self hate made up to look like the object of your affection. In the end I guess you could say the images are like some kind of beautiful sugar nightmare. As Feature Shoot puts it: “He constructed each besprinkled monster in an effort to beat the cravings, exploring the deeply unfulfilling process of binge-eating. Beginning with a colored cream cheese base, the sculpted edibles were often a race against time to maintain, some of the full body portraits taking upwards of 8 hours to complete. Ostrer’s dessert-riddled busts look like tribal devils of our darker cravings, the overload of color and candy a visual definition of the words “sickly sweet”.”
I invite you to take a look at this provocative series. As an artist and health enthusiast I believe this kind of work is important. After all, sometimes images can speak louder than words.
For more of this series check this links: