Chef & Photographer Join Forces To Envision New Art Form
For Tiberio Simone and Matt Freedman, two of the most beautiful things in the world are food and the human body – not necessarily in that order.
“Food is not just sustenance to me,” said Simone, a James Beard award-winning chef. “In culinary school, it is taught that how one serves and arranges a meal on the plate is almost as important as the preparation of the dish itself. Our senses are aroused not only by the taste, smell and texture, but also by how food is presented visually.”
Freedman, known as one of Seattle’s finest photographers and creator of the iPhone app Burning Man: A Photo Essay, agrees with Simone, and also believes that one of the oldest traditions in art is the photographic representation of the human form.
“Photographing the nude is one of the most revered tests of a photographer’s mettle,” Freedman said. “It’s not about sexuality, but sensuality and how a photographer can transcend modern mores and portray the simple, elegant beauty of the human form. When Tiberio – who was already one of my best friends – had the crazy idea of making art by placing fruits and vegetables on people’s nude bodies, I knew I had to photograph it. His artistic vision was a perfect match for my own.”
That project became “La Figa: Visions of Food and Form” (www.LaFigaProject.com), a coffee table book that features a spectacular collection of sensual photography – models wearing nothing but Simone’s edible creations.
“La Figa examines the relationship between food, touch and the ingredients that make life delicious,” Simone said. “It’s a unique hybrid of fine art photography and food. We combine the images with stories and even a collection of my favorite recipes. To us, it’s about natural beauty and fresh flavors. It‘s about our human connection with the food that we eat and how fresh food brings our senses to life, and tunes us in to our most primal instincts for flavor and pleasure.”
When they first embarked on the project, the models were mostly young and slender women, but Simone and Freedman later added men, partially to fulfill a request made by women who knew about the project.
“Then I realized that fruit and vegetables have something in common with people’s bodies – they come in different shapes, sizes, tastes, and smells,” Simone said. “So I started adding people of different ages and shapes. The La Figa concept is the idea that we can find beauty in everything and everyone around us. I wanted our pictures to accurately convey my message. On our first shoot, I completely covered a woman’s body with over 1500 slices of cucumber. In the five years since then, Matt and I have done more than 50 photo shoots together for La Figa, in hopes that it will help me to spread my philosophy about the importance of food and touch as the basics ingredients of a good life. These photos range from pomegranate lingerie, to a white chocolate warrior. To make these images, I had to create many techniques to keep the food fresh, bright, and beautiful on the body – long enough for Matt to take dozens of photographs. We hope the end result will stir people’s souls, pique their curiosity, and most importantly, inspire them to eat well, and make love.”