From spotlight features of the new and novel places to eat and ways to eat to the at times obsessive deference paid by today’s socially responsible and meaning-well consumer to the minute details of origin, type, and sustainability of food comprising their diet, food and health has developed into almost a mega-culture of modern life. In his first solo exhibition at Johansson Projects Micah Wood explores the convoluted semiotics of Western world’s food economy, presenting a visual survey and critical commentary on modes of food marketing, and unique perception of food itself. Wood’s work, including found items as well as painting and sculpture, concurrently pose and tackle these enigmatic concepts of where perception meets and diverts from truth in consumer culture.
With references to modern cookbooks, diet guides, and markets throughout the exhibit, Wood responds to a typical but perhaps hyperbolic perception of the Western largely, and Southern Californian specifically diet and “foodie” lifestyle, and challenges viewers to question how behaviors and attitudes towards food “consumption” and nourishment have changed. Tongue in cheek titles, like “My Skin Looks Radiant After My Morning Smoothie” and “Horny Teenagers only Eat Vegetables Shaped by Phalluses (I)” reveal this concerning lifestyle propped by marketing ploys. Wood attempts to “unpack” (another double entendre!) this hypersensitivity through an attempt for more specificity actually conversely reaches further enigmatic food labeling and product awareness — these ubiquitous symbols highly codified, become even more mysterious in their twisting and turning language and catch phrases.
“Working in the field of painting and sculpture allows for a third language to develop, a visual language that captures the every changing ways that I try to mediate the images around me,” says Wood. “By referencing the signs that surround us, I am poking holes by remaking these architectural signs that I encounter into new symbols. I’m mocking their utilitarian designs by deconstructing them into non-functional sculpture (form over function).” Whether it is an accidental abstract expressionist gestural painting formed from an amalgamation of berries spilled on a pristine white canvas in “Albert Heijn(Accidental Painting)” referencing the largest Danish supermarket chain, or using what look like rotting bunches of fruit, like “Six Small Deaths” read as a Duchampian found object, Wood’s paintings call on the viewer to reevaluate their emotional relationships to food and consumer culture.
Micah Wood’s solo show will be on view at Johansson Projects, 2300 Telegraph Avenue Oakland through October 15, 2016.