Christopher Boffoli “is a Seattle-based photographer, writer, artist and filmmaker. Largely self-taught, he took up photography as a hobby in his teens, honing his skills as a student journalist in high school and college. While still an undergraduate he started his own commercial photography company in Charleston, South Carolina. With a background in literature and English, he worked for more than a decade in the field of Philanthropy, raising money for elite schools like Dartmouth College and the London School of Economics. Christopher was able to integrate his creative skills, in writing, photography and graphic design into much of his fundraising work.”
Sobre o trabalho de fotografia de viagem e fotojornalismo de Christoper Boffoli, aliás de notável qualidade, falarei em separado, numa próxima entrada. Interessa-me hoje conhecer a uma extraordinária série de fotografias de estúdio, composições que combinam figuras humanas em acções de trabalho ou momentos de lazer, a uma escala rigorosa e meticulosamente reduzida, com alimentos reais, à escla normal.
O conceito é surpreendente e contraditório. Por um lado, o fascínio pela dimensão mínima, as coisas pequenas que sentimos poder dominar e controlar. Por outro, o culto americano pelo excesso, pelo exagero, principalmente no que toca a comida. Lilliput e Gulliver.
O resultado, um trabalho plasticamente belo e conceptualmente denso, tem despertado a atenção internacional e já foi apresentado em em mais de 90 países.
Boffoli descreve assim A Série Big Appetites
The genesis of my Big Appetites series of fine art photographs was in a lot of the media I was exposed to as a child. There were so many films and television shows that exploited both the dramatic and comedy potential of a juxtaposition of different scales: tiny people in a normal-sized world. It is a surprisingly common cultural theme going back all the way to Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels in the 18th century and perhaps earlier.
I think it is especially resonant with children because as a child you live in an adult world that is out of scale with your body and proportions. And you constantly exercise your imagination around a world of toys that are further out of scale. As a child I was an avid collector of Matchbox cars, a model railroader and a builder of models (cars, ships and airplanes). I was fascinated, as many children and adults are, with tiny, meticulously detailed things.
When I began shooting some of the very earliest images in this series, around 2003, food was a conscious choice as one of the components as it can be very beautiful – in terms of texture and color – especially when shot with available light and macro lenses. Combining what is essentially food and toys makes the work instantly accessible to virtually everyone. Regardless of language, culture and social status, almost everyone can identify with toys from their childhood. And whether you eat with a fork, chopsticks or your hands, everyone understands food. Sitting down to a meal makes us feel most human.
The sensual experience of eating accesses primal instincts that stretch back to the earliest days of our evolution. Whether we are reflecting on the comfort food of childhood, celebrating food’s tremendous diversity, or obsessing over calories and nutrition, cuisine is one of those rare topics that most people can speak about with authority and yet largely without controversy. So the choice of food as a backdrop of the environments of the Big Appetites series is certainly calculated.
America’s food celebration
Our relationship with food can be complex. For decades, Americans have had broad access to an embarrassment of riches on supermarket shelves. And as such we often take that bounty for granted. But scarcely a century ago, a bunch of bananas or a pint of strawberries in the middle of winter were rare and exotic treats. Contemporary America not only has a huge range of exotic foods year-round, but we have cable television networks that broadcast nothing but shows about cooking and food. Some offer merely the spectacle of bizarre foods from distant cultures or competitions in which the audience root for their favorite chefs based on personality, but never having tasted or smelled a morsel of food. Beautifully photographed, glossy magazines offer us features on the farms and vineyards that supply our tables while endless cookbooks offer us everything from easy-to-follow cake recipes to the sous vide, alginate-laden masterpieces of top chefs, their dishes plated intricately like edible Faberge eggs.
In truth, an alarming number of Americans eat on the go in their cars, or reheat processed foods at home. Though we’re exposed to arguably more food multiculturalism than any other generation, the vast majority of us tend to eat from the same prosaic revolving menu that is fast and easy if not always especially nutritional. Yet we continue to consume vast quantities of food-related media, perhaps to voyeuristically satisfy our unrealized intentions. Our eyes process the sensual experience of food that our mouths and noses have forgotten. So perhaps it is especially fitting for food to become nothing but an aesthetic backdrop for a world of tiny figures, in the same country that in 2011 produced the five volume Gutenberg Bible of cookbooks: Nathan Myhrvold’s Modernist Cuisine, an $800 reference that a fraction of its buyers will use to actually produce food.
The components of the Disparity/Big Appetites photographs – toys and food – are among the most common elements in every culture in the world, regardless of language or socio-economic bracket. So perhaps its accessibility is the basis of its appeal. Playing with the language of size disparity, especially with these two extremely familiar components, seems to draw people into a different world. “