The food devotion in Valenberg and Studio Ghibli

6 February 2021 di ejan

This post is also available in: Italiano

If you have seen even a single Studio Ghibli film, you will have noticed the religiosity with which Miyazaki and collaborators treat the theme of the meal.

The moment of consumption at the table is treated with a devoted delicacy and depth, the preparation of the dishes is like an alchemical formula.

Studio Ghibli, Frame tratto da La Città Incantata.
Frame taken from Spirited Away
Studio Ghibli, Il sugaretto fritto de La collina dei papaveri.
The fried sugarello from From Up on Poppy Hill

In the same way, Valenberg, a pixel artist now in the Olympus of the “established”, treats food with an almost uncanny relationship between love/addiction.

Valenberg, Ramen/3
Valenberg, Ramen/3

It’s a real obsession that Valenberg paints, as if his series of Ramen were daily and repetitive thoughts, psychological mantras used to feel better.ù

Valenberg, Ramen/1
Valenberg, Ramen / 1

Valenberg’s ramen are mirages elaborated by our brain during the day, after a stressful work shift sitting at the back of a bus looking forward to the moment when you will bite them.

Almost always the choice of recipes is similar, if not exactly identical to that of Studio Ghibli: traditional Japanese dishes, also known for their aesthetic side.

What differentiates them is precisely the warmth with which the artists experience the scenes: family nests, fireplaces and warm colors prevail in one, solitude, pre-packaged foods and machines in the other.

Valenberg, Consuma.
Valenberg, Consume.
Valenberg, Scegli.
Valenberg, Choose.

Contemporary loneliness

The shelves crammed with hyper-colored packaging have something sinister, and the titles chosen don’t differ much: “Consume”, “Choose”.

Advertising slogans of the era of consumerism, of single portion meals consumed alone.

Traditional meeting places vanish, leaving space for non-places, waiting spaces that for a moment welcome the stomach to be satiated.

A whole other story compared to the conviviality and love emanating from Miyazaki’s stews and mumbling pots.

Studio Ghibli,  Lo Stufato di Verdure di Laputa, Il Castello nel Cielo
Laputa’s Vegetables Stew from Castle in the Sky

Valenberg reconnects to a burning theme faced by some artists of the late 1990s, in the midst of the post-representational era, in which the portrait of the schizophrenic community consumed by capitalism is triggered by shelves full of nauseating and depressing goods.

 Mike Bidlo, Not Warhol (Brillo Boxes, 1964), 2005
Mike Bidlo, Not Warhol (Brillo Boxes, 1964), 2005 
Valenberg, Ci scusiamo per lo spam!
Valenberg, We’re sorry for the Spam!
Valenberg, Sushi
Valenber, Sushi

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