Four years of slow maturation were necessary in order to carry through this very unusual four-handed research, a chronicle of the eye and the mouth, in search of the meaning that might be given to our food. A collaboration between chef and photographer, which, beyond the nutritive aspect, seeks the other faces of our food.
It was in December 1996, during a snowstorm, that Hans Gissinger, the photographer, pushed open the door of the Espérance and met the chef Marc Meneau for the first time. He was already familiar with his cooking, having sampled it several times. For twenty years he had been coming regularly to that region of France, the Morvan, to rediscover, through its landscapes and inhabitants, a crudeness confining these places within another time, in close proximity to an archaic aesthetic. At a time when food is at the heart of public debate - when, industrialized in the extreme, it threatens to poison us - the two authors have dug down into the hidden meanings of cooking.
Thus cooking seems to be a delicate synthesis of landscapes, hunting, the various technical processes of agriculture. But it is above all the result of a symbolic system which men transmit from generation to generation. Cooking is history.
In undertaking this collaboration, the two men gave themselves no limits, leaving the whole field of possibilities open. They have structured the book around their conversations, the stories one tells, like the exchanges that grace a meal or a walk. The book thus appears as scraps of a conversation in time. The voices of Meneau and Gissinger mingle with the voices of those who, in their own manner and according to their own preoccupations, have written on the same subjects. This conversation is a conversation in space, the places and their histories. Certain of the episodes served up come out of the night of time, the epoch when man made himself into man. Cooking became a cultural and identifying attribute of man once he separated himself from the animal world. This conversation results, then, from the exchange and formulation of memories, of individual histories placed back into the history of humanity. Gissinger, experienced in the advertising image and great publicity campaigns, has mastered the fabrication of images which are, of necessity, seductive. With the aesthetic research pursued in this book, his aim is to recover the form and primitive history of our food. This book about food is in no way a book about how to cook, but is rather a work of art that makes use of cooking and expresses the whole conceptual, primordial field contained in our everyday nourishment.
14 three color prints,
an edition of 200, numbered and signed, on 111 lb paper,
size 25/39 inches
Two color silkscreen prints on canvas, size 40/52 inches
Book “La Conversation” published in 2000 by Woodstock Editions, USA, 2000 signed copies printed (1000 copies are destroyed for quality reasons)
- Ellen Elizabeth Gallery
- Oct, 2002 Cape Cod, MA
- Frangales, Festival Arts visuals et Aliment
- 2005, Avallon, France