We produce enough food calories to feed every single person on this earth (MIT). Yet, 795 million people do not have enough food (World Food Programme), because so much is wasted. In New Zealand we throw away enough food annually to feed Dunedin for 2 years (Love Food Hate Waste NZ). This is a common trend in wealthy countries, and globally between 25-50% of all food is wasted (MIT). The waste goes further than just the food; in each bite is the labour, land, water and CO2 emissions associated with growing and throwing away that food. 9 Billion people are expected to inhabit this earth by 2050 (MIT), while the distribution of farmable land is expected to drop significantly around Africa, India, Australia and the Caribbean (F.A.O 10). Climate change will create a future where croppable land is lessened, livestock mortality rates increase, droughts are rampant and water is scarce (F.A.O. 10). Food security will suffer, particularly in underdeveloped nations. Reducing world hunger in the coming years is going to require us to reduce consumption and waste.
My work essentially focuses on the imbalance of food distribution in the world, and the unnecessary wastage by wealthy countries that can be easily fixed. The concept of the sculpture is based upon the Statue of Liberty; it mimics the upholding of certain values, but replaces the upholding of liberty with the control of food and resources. The figure is representative of wealthy nations. I also looked at Michael Parekowhai’s work, Te Ao Hurihuri, as an example of how sculpture can work symbolically. By using the elephant as a symbol, it creates an ambiguity in the work and allows the viewer to bring their own assumptions to the symbols, and then have to question those against what the work is saying. I used this idea in my own work through the use of cows to represent food and the immense resources behind it; the meat and dairy industry has become a symbol for the West’s food and resource control since documentaries like Cowspiracy (2014) revealed the water, land and carbon footprint behind beef and dairy. The other hand, holding water, represents the interconnected nature of food waste and water waste, and the importance of curbing this waste as climate change approaches and the potential for drought increases. With this work I aimed to make people see and think on their own terms – to bring their own thoughts to what was in front of them and have to read and think about the work and what it represents and sculpture was a good way to do this. It also gives a material, tangible front to an issue people often ignore; it forces them to confront it.
This project has a purpose; being a global citizen (Mirzoeff 289), means we must find ways to represent ourselves (Mirzoeff 293). It means being aware of our own world, of many points of view, and being able to represent our values. This often occurs through ‘visual activism’ (Mirzoeff 289), and uses a growing visual culture to incite change. In a world where most are connected it is hard to distance yourself from others. Working to see the world differently, and change the world is key to being a global citizen, and making sure the world is being represented and changed the way we want it to be.
- Mission 2014: Feeding the World. Inadequate Food Distribution Systems. Michigan Institute of Technology (MIT) 2014. Web 23/05/2016.
- WFP. Hunger Statistics. World Food Programme, 2016. Web.
- Food Waste. Love Food Hate Waste NZ 2016. Website.
- FAO. Coping with climate change – the roles of genetic resources for food and agriculture. Rome 2015. Web 19/05/2016.
- Mirzoeff, Nicholas. “Afterword”. How to See the World. London, Pelican 2015. 289-298. Print.