A commission from the Rijksmuseum gave photographer Henk Wildschut two years to spend photographing food production in the Netherlands. That intensive food production is first and foremost a matter of preventive medicine is something of which we are reminded by every page of his book Food. This is largely because of the way the author tells his story.
In the main part of the book the photographs are surrounded by large areas of sterile white and grouped according to process, with the products all jumbled up together – from chicks to seedlings to bulls to changing rooms to fish fillets. Towards the end there are two sections on mint-green paper where the production companies are given names and faces and the images are repeated in a small format, now provided with captions.
The two parts of the book are linked by some solid navigation, the functionality of which will be experienced by anyone taking the time the book deserves. It also sets the tone: as if we are leafing through a manual of procedure. Every now and again portraits of employees come by on thinner paper by way of relief from the otherwise ubiquitous distance.
The fact that the book failed to take the panel by storm may have something to do with the subject’s low cuddle factor. However, the longer they talked about it, the more they liked it. ‘Ít shows us what we don’t want to know.’