Friday, July 5, 2013

Employing the Food in the Arts Technique: Charles Okereke

Charles Okereke?  Who's he?


So, how does his art happen to be posted here, Food Images in the Arts?

This is a perfect example of how Food Images in the Arts can lead you to new aesthetic experiences and visual delight. Maybe you even have friends who might be interested.

Here is what happened this morning:

Paging through the New York Times Art Section, I spot a small article about the Trans-Africa Project. Curious, I go to Google and immediately see dozens of great photographs. I sort through them and come to Okereke's work. Food.

 Food, admittedly, is not this only theme, but by scanning his photos, I find West Africa's very public aspects of eating. Moreover, after examining his food photos, I go back and enjoy his other subjects. Thus, I come to know Charles Okerek's art and learn that one of his best projects is Canal People, 2009.

His work touches on every possible aspect of life: women's roles, artists, markets, rallies, children and so forth.  And chicken with rice, a local favorite.

Charles Okereke (b. Lagos, Nigeria, 1966)


    Okereke's photographs are part of the 2nd edition of the Invisible Borders Trans-African Photography Project which took place between April and May 2010. The route taken by the ten photographers involved in the project was from Lagos to Dakar. April - May 2010.

The idea here is to document, artistically and dramatically, icons of every-day life in West Africa, presenting visually the links and shades of difference among those cultures.

In Dakar, Senegal, I saw similar signs on the main roads, featuring Coca Cola and other Western products

50 Years Canteen  Fish Driver, Kumasi, Ghana

Heaven Gate, 1970; 2010

Snack bar or take-away heavily secured, advertises local style chicken or fish over plain rice.

An American version:

Poulet Yassa, Senegal

Chicken Yassa is best when marinated over night in herbs, spices, onion,lemon and chili peppers.


Sarah Commerford, author of What's Cooking in Your World and Cooking My Way Around the World, provides information on Poulet Yassa from Senegal:

 Cuisine in Senegal has French, Portuguese and North African influences. From chatting with Kafui, I have a feeling much of the food can be very hot and spicy...I'm pretty sure she would have added many more hot peppers and cayenne to this dish than my western taste buds are used to! Fish, chicken, lamb (stewed and/or marinated) and eggs are all good sources of protein, but as Senegal has a very large Islamic population, pork is not eaten. Peanuts, couscous, white rice, sweet potatoes, lentils, black eyed peas, tomatoes and onions all also commonly eaten.  Bissap, ginger, mango buy (fruit from the baobab tree), along with plantains are also staple foods. Maybe someday I'll get to go to Senegal and have the honor and pleasure of sharing an authentic Senegalese meal with Kafui...until then, my attempt at recreating Poulet Yassa will have to suffice!

lemon and chili peppers.

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