Ten’s To See: ‘Dipping Sauce’ by Maisie Cousins at Elephant West
In a newly renovated disused petrol station pretty much opposite the BBC Television Centre’s former headquarters in White City, sits the quarterly art publication Elephant‘s newly opened creative project space Elephant West. Christening the gallery is Dipping Sauce, a specially commissioned immersive solo exhibition by photographer Maisie Cousins, exploring contemporary consumption and our obsessive fascination with food.
Taking inspiration from her surroundings in west London, through a series of large scale photographic prints, animations and light boxes hung and projected across the gallery, the viewer is confronted with Cousins’ sensationally evocative, hyper-saturated macro images of food. “I find it very amusing how obsessed we are with photographing our meals. If someone’s avocado breakfast wasn’t photographed did it even happen!?” laughs the 26 year-old west London born and based artist. “I enjoy all things sensual, visceral and food is something I love to play around with,” she continues.
“I love how evocative smells and tastes can be, and that moment where your brain is not working at the same time as you,” Cousins explains in the lead-up to the exhibition. “I was finding myself taking pictures of my leftovers after every meal. I wanted to make [this project] bigger, not just use phone pictures.” Submerged amongst the tantalisingly textual fruit and veg, dumplings, maggot-like noodles, piles of rice and congealed oily puddles of sauce, are flowers and nostalgia-inducing plastic figurines of a swan, babies and mermaids. “I’ve never had much space to work within, so to continue to interest myself with working mainly in macro I like to experiment with materials as much as possible!”
At once celebrating the ceremony of eating and the harsh aftermath of gluttony, Cousins playfully traverses the line of the abject and the unsettling uncanny sensation. Warranting a prolonged or second glance, the photographs are at once seductively arresting and entrancingly joyous, yet also a repulsively jarring reminder of the consequences of food waste. “We need to be more conscious as the planet is dying. But ultimately I hate the pressure on the individual, it’s really the big companies,” she attests.
“Maisie is at a very interesting point in her career; she has a successful commercial career which dovetails very nicely with her burgeoning fine art photography practice,” adds Elephant West’s curator Becca Pelly-Fry. “Maisie also grew up in west London, near Westbourne Park, so it felt right to open the space with a local artist; she knows the area well and feels very connected to it.” Following on from Dipping Sauce, Elephant West will showcase the eleven artists shortlisted for the inaugural Elephant x Griffin Art Prize as well as a regular programme of events. Stay tuned.
Maisie Cousins’ ‘Dipping Sauce’ will run from November 10th – December 2nd at Elephant West with a series of events, talks, and workshops.