“What looks like spaghetti Bolognese and keeps fresh on the shelf for 50 years?” asked the NYT in 1985. Japanese realistic fake food samples, of course, which have become almost as famous as the country’s delectable cuisine itself. Artists have taken aim at the ubiquitous samples that sit outside restaurants, creating jewelry and smartphone cases. But none have gone the lengths of Ayako Fudamoto, a Kyoto-based artist who is currently in the midst of her first solo exhibition.
Fudamoto, a recent graduate of Kyoto Seika University’s sculpture program, hand-makes all of her food samples from clay. The imitation food samples – unique sculptures in their own right – are then assembled to create larger sculptures that often manifest in grotesque portrayals of the food industry.
In “Beef or Beef,” a large cow appears to be emerging from a wall. One of its front legs is made from various food samples that use beef as an ingredient and the food is wrapping itself around the cow’s body.
Another piece, whose title translates to “I can’t sit there,” is made from various chicken dishes and is inspired by an urban legend of a 4-legged chicken. In “Linkage,” a wall-mounted installation of roughly 50 bentos, Fudamoto draws on her experience from working in a convenience store bento production facility. During her shifts she witnessed massive amounts of food being produced, but also discarded, she told Kansai Art Beat, and this went on to inform her work. Our vital need to continue eating, contrasted with our aversion for spoiled food, as well as various problems within the food industry, are overarching themes that permeate her work.
Ayako Fudamoto’s solo exhibition “inside” is on display at Kunst Arzt gallery in Kyoto through March 20, 2016.