We are all fridge artists
October 16, 2006
The aesthetics of refridgeration deserves more attention than it currently gets. Has any budding art historian written a thesis yet on the visual culture of vegetable arrangement? Probably, but as yet there hasn’t been a major exhibition in, say, the Met or the V&A dedicated to this branch of the decorative arts.
It’s a democratic art form. We are all, in our own humble ways, fridge artists. It is also an ephemeral form, and is often produced collaboratively. This morning, for instance, Maths chick carefully cleaned the interior of our upright fridge-freezer, while I trimmed this week’s fruit and veg, preparing them for display, like a painter mixing his pigments.
To me, it’s all about balance, harmony, light and shade. It is about the surprising play of the fridge light across the glistening skin of the mango, thrown into relief by the deep shadows of the cheese tray.
A range of containers help give structure to this modern-day still life. Pears are piled high on deep white bowls (Habitat seconds), onions huddle together in their net. Plastic bags symbolise the plasticity of modern consumer culture.
The classical approach is to combine vegetable matter with a fine joint of lamb, a rustic hunk of cheese, a bright-eyed whole mackerel (no flacid fillets, please). It can be effective to include a bottle of Heinz ketchup as a knowing reference to Warhol’s pop art masterpieces. A wedge of rotting melon encourages the viewer to ponder the big themes of mortality and death.
I think it’s high time fridge art was recognised as one of the 21st century’s most vibrant visual cultures. Who’s with me on this one?