Does anything in one’s home tell as clear a story about its inhabitants as the refrigerator? I hadn’t really thought about it before, until I saw You Are What You Eat, a series of photos by artist Mark Menjivar, who profiled 35 refrigerators and the people who own them.
For three years I traveled around the country exploring food issues. The more time I spent speaking and listening to individual stories, the more I began to think about the foods we consume and the effects they have on us as individuals and communities.
An intense curiosity and questions about stewardship led me to begin to make these unconventional portraits. A refrigerator is both a private and a shared space. One person likened the question, “May I photograph the interior of your fridge?” to asking someone to pose nude for the camera.
Each fridge is photographed “as is.” Nothing added, nothing taken away. […]
My hope is that we will think deeply about how we care.
How we care for our bodies. How we care for others. And how we care for the land.
These few portraits made clear the differences between my life and all the “characters'” lives so quickly. The guy from the above photo, the street advertiser, doesn’t pause midway through a tough day at work to fantasize about a comfort food he’ll dip into when he gets home. He can’t afford anything but mayo (I think?) and something wrapped in a black trash bag in his refrigerator. I’m sure it’s not moldy in there at all.
Oh, that takes me back. Being college students and only having liquids and condiments on hand. And clearly, keeping a good inventory: I see two bottles of soysauce in the door, both opened.
These people seem to be doing well with their goal. This collection makes me think they’re people who really enjoy eating — look at those jars! Bright, tangy vegetables! I see maybe a black bean dish on the top shelf. Hummus in the middle? And what’s in the stew pot? Maybe there’s cake under that tin foil.
That looks about right. Food service workers have the shittiest schedules, and ready access to so much crap food. At least this person isn’t going hungry.
If I may offer a helpful tip? You bought way too much produce. You two will never get through most of that, unless you eat raw — and therefore many, many vegetables. But six cucumbers? We eat a lot of vegetables in this house and we’re lucky to finish two cucumbers before they turn.
But don’t let your anxiety over feeling like you’re not buying enough food ruin this. You’ll get better at figuring out how much stuff you need.
That’s not a lot of food for six people, and six people in an efficiency sounds like a hard way to live.
And now? Put your fine art photographer hat on: take a portrait of your icebox, upload it to the Offbeat Home Flickr group, and post a link in the comments. I kicked it off. Let’s see what kinds of stories our refrigerators tell.