Maryam Jafri

Maryam Jafri


Maryam Jafri, Mouthfeel (still), 2014. 2K HD video with sound, 21:34 minutes. Courtesy the artist.

March 19, 2014

Maryam Jafri

21 March–18 May 2014

Preview: Thursday 20 March, 6:30–8:30pm

155 Vauxhall Street
London SE11 5RH
Hours: Wednesday–Sunday noon–6pm,
closed Sunday 20 April 

Gasworks presents Mouthfeel, the first solo exhibition in London by Maryam Jafri. Comprising the newly commissioned short film of the same name and a new photo-text work titled Product Recall: An Index of Innovation (both 2014), the exhibition explores the politics underpinning the industrial production of food, connecting themes as diverse as “big food,” flavour enhancement technology and overconsumption.

Encompassing moving image, text, photography and performance, Jafri’s research-based practice often merges fiction and documentary to explore how historical and economic constructs manifest in everyday gestures, manners and items such as clothes, food and textiles. 

At Gasworks the short film Mouthfeel (21:34 minutes, 2K HD video with sound) combines staged and found footage to unravel the politics surrounding the mass production of processed food. The staged scenes are based on an original script by the artist and focus on the conversations of a married couple who work for the same food multinational—a cross between Nestlé and Monsanto. Their exchange is inspired by theatre and television, where socio-political analysis is played out through everyday, familial dialogue with large doses of humour, hypocrisy and violence.

Set in the near future, the wife, a leading food technologist, and the husband, a senior brand manager, find themselves stuck in a chauffeur-driven stretch limo at a security checkpoint in an unspecified global city. The wife, played by Jafri, has uncovered a potential health problem with their new product, which her husband is determined to cover up. Along with excerpts of found footage sourced from different countries in the global south and which act as “commercial breaks,” these scenes address themes of convenience, good taste and the disparities between mass and artisanal forms of production.

Also on display, an excerpt of the photo-based work Product Recall: An Index of Innovation brings together “still life” product photography of unsuccessful food products from the private archive of an anonymous former brand consultant with related text and objects. These combine to recount an alternative cultural history of processed food in the 20th century that focuses on products that were either recalled or failed to find widespread consumer appeal. With reference to the vernacular language, imagery and iconography of advertising and display culture, this work reveals how agribusiness and the innovations of laboratory science are implicated in the mass circulation and consumption of everyday commodities.


In conversation: Maryam Jafri and TJ Demos
Tuesday 15 April, 7pm
Maryam Jafri discusses her practice with TJ Demos, critic and Reader in the Department of Art History, University College London.

Presentation: Liz Moor on branding
Tuesday 13 May, 7pm
Liz Moor, Senior Lecturer in Media and Communications at Goldsmiths, University of London, and author of The Rise of Brands (Berg, 2007) presents her research on the emergence of the branding industry.

This is the third exhibition of The Civilising Process, a yearlong programme of exhibitions and events at Gasworks inspired by German sociologist Norbert Elias’ eponymous 1939 book, which looks at the development of the tastes, manners and sensibilities of Western Europeans since the Middle Ages. Between October 2013 and November 2014 Gasworks is working with invited artists to tackle a wide range of issues raised by this book in an attempt to understand their relevance for contemporary debates and practices. The Civilising Process comprises five exhibitions, a programme of interdisciplinary events, contributions to Gasworks’ online platform Pipeline and a printed publication.

Mouthfeel is commissioned by Gasworks in partnership with steirischer herbst festival 2014, and produced by Spike Film and Video and supported by the Danish Arts Foundation.

Maryam Jafri is also currently in residence at Delfina Foundation as part of The Politics of Food.

Maryam Jafri at Gasworks
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March 19, 2014

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