The Book of Tasty and Healthy Food

From 1939 until its collapse, "The Book of Tasty and Healthy Food" was the only cookbook available inside the USSR. For millions of Soviets, this culinary instruction manual came to define an ideal way of life. When my mother immigrated to the US, it was one of the few possessions she was allowed to take. Two years ago I discovered it tucked away on a shelf in the pantry of our kitchen, more or less forgotten.

In my series by the same name, I sculpturally recreate and then photograph the original illustrations from The Book of Tasty and Healthy Food.

Since the objects depicted inside its covers are no longer available, all the props in these recreations have to be handmade, this means painting the labels on the cans, the designs on the plates and the multi color tablecloths and backgrounds to mirror the originals. With this handmade aesthetic, the resulting photographs have an unreal, disorienting quality that blurs the line between painting and photography (beyond color correction I don’t use any photoshop, all the photographs are taken in one shot).

The final photographs are re-enactments of a past I never experienced, expressive of a general desire for return. They act as memory images, combining fragments of the real and the false to create a simulacrum that looks convincing on the surface only to fall apart into a jumble of inconsistencies upon closer examination.