"In the house of Martha and Mary" was presented at Creative Tastebuds, a sustainability and taste symposium organized by the University of Aarhus, Denmark and the Danish national research and communication centre Taste for Life. This exchange of knowledge and inspiration symposium was held on 16th and 17th August 2021. The presentation can be seen here and here.
The artwork later travelled to Venice, Italy, as one of the finalists selected for the international contemporary art and design award, the Arte Laguna Art Prize 2021. The ceremony was held on 2nd Oct while the exhibition continues until 21st November at the historical Venetian Arsenale Nord.
Finally, The Curators Salon, led by London based curator Gita Joshi selected 'In the house of Martha and Mary' as one of the entries for the exhibition 'A Thousand Words'. This online exhibition was held between 17 November to 29 December 2021.
In the house of Martha and Mary 2020
This work depicts how we consumers worship imported food like an irradicable religion while being surrounded by an abundance of local and regional produce. Inspired by 17th-century still-life paintings created to depict the biblical chapter, "Christ in the house of Martha and Mary" from St Luke's Gospel notably painted by several Dutch old masters including Pieter Aertsen, Joachim Beuckelaar etc. This contemporary interpretation hopes to raise awareness of the growing social issues behind this global frenzy eating disorder.
Sitten on the right of this reinvented piece, ‘Martha’ contemplates a rich spread of local and seasonal produce widely grown, cultivated and available in the Netherlands and its region. While on the left, ‘Mary’ starstruck and seemingly smiling at an imported pineapple on her hands. The pun of the biblical story and staged image is the comparison of how consumers have devout themselves with the bountiful availability of imported food, very much similar to the belief and loyalty of a religious faith. However, our indulgence in imported exotic food creates numerous social and environmental problems. By bringing this food to our plate, it brought about issues concerning conflicts in growers’ countries, drug cartels, deforestation, high carbon footprint etc.
'In the house of Martha and Mary' strives to reveal the malfunctioning social issue of ours in an art form. It reflects a small part of our current day food culture that is unsustainable while at the same time citing selected biblical references as an irony. Finally, it hopes to act as a consumer reminder to adjust our tastebuds and help reduce or omit suffering from humanity and the environment.
All staged items chosen are selected to enhance the practice of using local resources within our regions. The food items used are green and white asparagus that dominates Dutch springtime, vibrant coloured summer berries and seasonal shellfishes liked oysters and lobsters that are cultivated in the Eastern Schelde. Finally, all decorative products showcased in this artwork are from designers within Rotterdam and the Dutch Randstad districts.
Art Direction & Concept: Phyllis Wong
Photography: Erikjan Koopmans
Models: Noa & Meggie van Ijsseldijk
MUAH: Eveline Carpier
Assistants: Bart de Groot, Pim Louf
Products: Foekje Fleur, Minale-Maeda, Lex Pott, Julie Thissen, Juliette Warmenhoven, Woodchuck
Flowers: Niche Flowershop, Een Bloemetje op Tafel