Playing in Still Life

Playing in Still Life

It is estimated that total food waste is over 2.5 billion tonnes, close to 40%. A proportion of this figure is made up of so-called “imperfect” produce: fruits and vegetables considered to be discoloured, distorted or misshapen in some way. Supermarkets have, historically, been known to turn these items away – despite their visual quirks having no impact on quality, flavour or nutrition. Recently, however, studies have shown a growing interest in these “wonky” fruit and vegetables, with chains likes Lidl, ASDA and Morrisons stocking boxes of irregular-looking food as an often a cheaper alternative to the mainstream.

Yuni Yoshida (b. 1980) is a Tokyo-born art director and graphic designer interested in the appearance of fruits, vegetables and flowers. “No one example is the same as any other,” she notes. “The patterns and shapes always give us fresh surprises.” Shown here are three series: Layered, Peel and Transparent. In Layered, Yoshida creates mosaics using apples, bananas and pineapples. Tiny squares are cut out and carefully positioned, creating the illusion of pixelation. The result is reminiscent of early video games.

In other works, orange skins appear to hover in midair: melting and dripping thick liquid from a height. Foodstuffs like kiwis and grapefruits are overlapped – a process which creates new colours and textures. On first glance, it may look like these images have been made transparent in post-production. Closer inspection reveals something else. “When apples and bananas overlap, yellow and red mix to make orange,” Yoshida explains. “So, in this series, we’ve put orange peel on the section where they intersect.”

There’s a sense of play here, and a clever use of optical trickery that encourages us to look twice. Viewers might be reminded of Giuseppe Arcimboldo’s (1526 – 1593) imaginative portraits, where faces are constructed entirely from inanimate natural objects like baskets of corn, pears, wheat and parsnips. In a similar way, Yoshida’s images draw attention to the intricate beauty and tonal variation to be found on supermarket shelves, and, by extension, in many kitchens around the world.


All images courtesy Yuni Yoshida, from the series Peel, Layered and Transparent.