Mascolo’s practice-based PhD research explores the ways that food is used to connect and commemorate the dead within the UK. This centres around food customs and memories that acknowledge the livings’ relationship with the dead by creating spaces to remember them.
As food activates all five senses, sensory triggers that it offers have been used to centre conversations with bereaved participants, providing focus and allowing narratives to develop when sharing memories of loss. At the heart of this research are differing grief experiences; participatory exchanges have been used throughout research to inform, add to, and develop new avenues for enquiry as research develops. Food and its components have been used to investigate individual experiences, on a one-to-one basis as well as by bringing them into collective settings, helping to evoke memories, create space for the dead in the present and shape our connection with them going forward.
The process of image-making has become a central research methodology; where set within the photographic studio and darkroom, analogue photography and printing has been used to experiment with the concepts of absence and ‘former presence’, and individual vs collective loss. The methodical and repetitive acts used within traditional analogue photographic processes, as well as both the restricted and heightened effect on sensory experiences these settings create, has led to the development of an immersive and self-reflexive embodied practice used to explore Mascolo’s own relationship to grief. By incorporating theoretical understanding of rituals, connecting to both grief, food, and the relationship between them, she has used image-making as a personal ritual, placing emphasis on the process rather that final imagery produced.
This practice has also been used to explore the nature of memory, and the barriers in tactility and the sensory when ‘remembering’. It attempted to evoke and mimic the insecurities around and uncertainties of memory production using experimental practices, from the integration of food and food-related material, to trialling affect changes in relation to image materiality, granularity, and size at all stages of the image-making process.
Responding to the ways that food is used to connect with and commemorate the dead, this exhibition presents how Mascolo’s image-making process has been used to inform, challenge, and develop new avenues of enquiry. The exhibition showcases photographs from different stages of research, forming a final series that illustrates the integral role that photographic exploration has had within her Research.
ABOUT THE ARTIST
Alex Mascolo is an Interdisciplinary Researcher and Photographer, working between the fields of Contemporary Art, Anthropology and Photography, focusing on improving experiences of death, dying and bereavement. She is currently in her final year of PhD by practice, based at Edinburgh College of Art. Her practice-based PhD research, in addition to her personal photographic practice, centres around participatory interactions and events.