Gobsmackingly gorgeous monster makeovers from London-based artist James Ostrer using junk food, you simply have to see it to believe it.
Says Dangerous Minds:
Models are adorned in hamburgers, cheese puffs, whipped cream and all manner of processed goodies, creating a sort of anthropological fashion spread of the crap we consume. There are full-body photographs of his tribesman, but it’s the faces that stand out, reminiscent of religious or ceremonial masks belonging to some long lost sugar clan.
Oh, to get this guy on Transformations!
And check out this fascinating interview with James Ostrer in Dazed:
This looks like it was such a fun project to make but with a darker message at its heart – where did the idea first come from?
It’s definitely been fun but also tapped into all other emotions on my spectrum. My work is often like a constantly evolving self-help course where I am the therapist as well as the client. The specific intent with the start of this project was to expose myself to such extreme levels of junk food that I would no longer want to eat it again. I hoped to change my response to the mass of synthetic and saturated colour in shops, that hums and draws me in like a fly to a zapper. I wanted to convert those feelings into something new and beautiful.
There’s a strong tribal theme running through as well – did you use any tribal photography as a set template?
I wanted to create a new tribe based on what we now eat and how far removed it is from nature. The distance between what comes out of the ground and what we then open from a packet. I see it as an anthropological reflection of our slavery to sugar addiction. I didn’t use any specific references other than my general knowledge.
How did you create these tableaus of candy? Which was your favorite food to work with here in terms of texture and colour?
I often do my shopping in mammoth wholesale warehouses where the scale of them makes me feel the size of a child again and I just let myself go into an unregulated frenzy. I then start to create palettes of colour and textures back in my studio the same way you would mix oil paint. I can’t say I like working with one ingredient in particular as they all do different things to me and have their place. I remember stepping back after sticking the final frazzle on a model’s head and thinking I had fallen in love with this creature I was making. In the same way some Japanese people do with anime cartoons.
The series is all about sugar-worshipping icons – who would you say is the biggest ‘offender’? And is each portrait based on a different icon?
I think you can describe the breakfast cartoon characters as the street dealers of sugar and the major corporations behind them as the cartels. In 2007 Tony the Tiger was banned from television advertising due to the sugar content in Frosties so he is definitely an offender that is now effectively in jail. All the portraits are an amalgamation of every kind of iconography that I have been exposed to. Whether it is the statue of a Hindu goddess i have seen in the Himalayas or Kim Kardashian rolling around in the sand on her instagram.
I found the portraits quite surreal – they seem irreverent and whimsical at first but when you look closer they are actually quite disturbing and grotesque. Was this what you were going for?
I love the fact that you feel both these opposing emotions as I feel that’s exactly what great advertising and packaging can do. It pulls you in with all these promises of beauty, happiness and joy then you’re left feeling empty and disturbed by wanting something different than yourself. I aimed to achieve the oscillation of these extremes. The works are also channeling some kind of unplanned emotion on the day that builds in an increasing arc with the crescendo moment of the final shot.
While these excitations are therapeutic to me they have often been cathartic to the people that sit for me as well. One example would be where I was asked if I could source a specific brand of sweets from the country the person was brought up in. They had binged on these to an extremely unhealthy level in the past and the following day they called to say being completely submerged in them had provoked a deeply emotional reflection about their unhappiness all those years ago.