The Chests is an attempt to preserve and capture the soul of one of the most beautiful galleries in Singapore: the street food stalls (hawkers and food courts)
which are exposed daily to a rhythmic cadence. To choose three Singaporean dishes and place them in three models of package to fold is a kind of taxidermy. It is also a way of asking about the
filter that each viewer chooses in order to interpret these drawings: while for some, the gastronomic reference will be evident, for others it is just a gastric hint. As if it were a book, this
series is divided into three chapters: Wrapped, Roasted and Steamed.
First chapter, Wrapped
It’s the representation of a meal called "bak chang" and is in itself presented as a treasure: a small package wrapped with pandan leaves which cover a mass of agglutinated rice stuffed with nuts, pork and spices. Something which in Latin American cultures would have similarities with hallacas and tamales.
These small packages which hang from a stick are specially prepared to celebrate the Dragon boat Festival and are associated with the Chinese poet Qu Yuan. Is it that people who are not familiar with Chinese food and culture can take for granted that those small packages have food inside? The spectator’s context and the cultural background (or culinary references) count as a resource when reading these gastronomic chapters.
Second chapter, Roasted
When talking about festivities and banquets in China, the author William Cham Tat Chuen said that its gastronomy required the satisfaction of three senses: sight, smell and taste. The food color must satisfy the sight because aesthetics is the first gastronomic pleasure.
In this reinterpretation of the roasted duck, the severed heads seem pleased with their destiny. Is this a way to minimize the fact that humans want to see those "seductive" creatures that they are going to eat? Or is it a way to honor these animals, sacrificed daily for our delight?
Third chapter: Steamed
«It was a brutal way of looking at it, the Chinese way: care for the creature, love it, pamper it, and then eat it. Of course, wherever we go, we found eating to be a cruel business. Here though,
there was no pretense », Nicole Mones in The last Chinese Chef.
The Chicken rice is one of the most popular dishes in Singapore. Among ginger, garlic, sesame oil and other spices aromas, boiled chickens hang from hooks waiting for their turn.
The idea of "pampering the creature" even after its death is reflected in this last chapter of the series with the Chinese knots around the hanging chickens. Chinese knots have an important symbolic charge, these as decoration for the chickens, symbolize prosperity. Another important point that this sample retakes is the staging of food and especially the birds: as if the diner turned into a theater play, where the spectator contemplates a fixed spectacle of creatures which generously announce a gastronomic experience.