You might not think much of the food forgotten at the back of your freezer, but it was a misshapen bag of frozen peas that first sparked a photo series by the artist duo Mathery, comprised of New York-based Erika Zorzi and Matteo Sangalli. Titled Al Freddo (“in the cold” in Italian), the pair were inspired by the process of freezing leftovers, or intentionally preparing more food than you need for the purpose of freezing it and eating it later on.
“In this photographic work we portray food in compositions and shapes we would be unable to achieve without the use of a freezer,” they explain. “We have squashed a burger in a triangular mould; frozen a slice of pizza with glue pens on and underneath it; arranged a portion of quinoa and bulgur salad as if it was a salami and shaped it like an horseshoe arch.”
“The biggest challenge for us was dealing with ice because obviously it melts pretty quickly, and the studio lights were not helping”
The resulting photographs are as playful as they are surreal. Taking direction from the everyday realities of ordinary working life, Mathery push the concept to its extreme: “We wanted to see how creative with the shapes we could go, using a selection of our favourite dishes.”
The process of photographing each item of frozen food was not without its difficulties. “The biggest challenge for us was dealing with ice because obviously it melts pretty quickly, and the studio lights were not helping. The real fun part was creating all the moulding to shape the dishes—and we had no doubles, so there was no room for mistakes.”
Al Freddo turns expectations of food and appetite on their head, transforming familiar lunchbox items into sculptural shapes destined to defrost. The pair conclude: “Food is pure culture; we look at food as a tool to communicate with people because there is so much history and stories to tell in every dish or ingredient.”