"The Costas of Havana"
Peter Menzel, "The Costas of Havana," Cuba, Family Portrait, 2005.
Hungry Planet: What the World Eats, April 16 to June 20, 2010, Red Deer Museum and Art Gallery
BY: Patricia Dawn Robertson
The modest Cuban family depicted in the Hungry Planet exhibition at the Red Deer Museum and Art Gallery is the same family photographer Peter Menzel and his collaborator, writer Faith D’Aluisio, met while scouting for their previous book project, Material World. “We spent three days driving around Havana with a government representative,” explains Menzel, a California-based photojournalist. “They wanted us to document a high-rise family from the new developments, but they finally relented and let me photograph Old Havana.”Material World captured its subjects in front of their homes, with all their possessions on public display. The book jump-started Menzel’s success, after 40 years behind the lens. “The idea to use food as a subject came out of an assignment I was given by the German magazine Geo,” he says. “They were doing a nutrition special so I decided to photograph my subjects with a week’s worth of food. This was the perfect follow-up to the Material World project.”
Menzel read a World Watch report that said more people in the world are now overfed than underfed. “I became obsessed with my fellow Americans, who were huge,” he says. “We are eating ourselves to death.” Menzel and D’Alusio found 12 families in 12 countries. They followed them to the grocery store, discussed their eating habits and calculated how much food they consumed in one week. The results — 48 revelatory colour photographs. The travelling exhibition is organized by COPIA: The American Center for Wine, Food and the Arts in Napa, California and is shown in Red Deer with some local exhibitions, including Red Deer Eats.