Rebecca STRAW: The raw and the cooked, Recycled Images, catalog, 2003

A bled rabbit on a hook has more of an aspect than a floppy joint of meat, a raw apple more than in an apple cake and a chill pea than in pea soup. Perhaps this is the reason why painters and photographers immortalized pears, apples and other fruit, ham, mushrooms, orange slices and baskets filled with vegetables, flayed rabbits, wrung-necked poultry and the flies settled on them, in their still lives. In other words always the fruit on a plate or the raw material awaiting preparation and almost never the cooked food. Surely their sense of form was upset by soup, stews, meat in sauces, salads, pasta and other types of disturbing masses. Perhaps they preferred fish, pork or chicken cooked whole, which preserved their integrity, the contours of their former lives and had not been transformed into mere dishes for consumption. The plastic beauty of the clean forms of fresh vegetables and fruit conceal their materiality, while the spectacle of cooked food always provokes the melancholy of mortality. Meat cooked to be unrecognizable, vegetables diced and soft dropped into soup, stews and the formless slop of sauces, or the chaos of salads. Prepared food is formlessness made manifest: the tidied, tormented, hacked, dead material is built from a secondary set of forms so that definite contours or forms are only found in the bowl which encircles the shape.

Prepared food without a serving plate is nothing. After all who has seen crab soup, spaghetti or even cakes on their own without any kind of pot, plate, tray or bowl? If we have then we gaze with horror and rush to cover them. There is something unclean in a prepared dish and if we were not forced to eat it then it would be nothing more than an object of contempt. Cooked food brings the confusion of life into the world of artistic forms - that is why it has no entry into this world. Raw food contrasts to cooked, as nature does to artifice, form and formlessness, life and death.

Cook books are the only sites where pictures of cooked food have been given approval. But here food, precisely because of its artistic presentation, enters some distant place of beauty so that these light filled, advantageously illuminated foods look very little like the real thing that we eat every day. Whatever, they produce a sense of artifice but this artifice does not relate to the preparation of the dish in question, nor its formlessness: these foods do not fade into overworkedness but into beauty.

Ágnes Eperjesi's pictures in her Full Plates series can be called beautiful but this beauty comes from the dishes themselves, illuminated from within. In her pictures the food bathed in shadow returns to a neon memory. The dishes emerge out of the night of the monochrome backgrounds or perhaps float in this darkening sauce of colours. These pictures have nothing common with brightly lit, cookbook beautified food poetics. Nightlike, forbidden, unclear, blurred forms glimmer in these Full Plates. This sits well with the fact that Eperjesi uses depictions on packets which end up in the bin. This new use of pictograms is the solution to an "artistic problem" - not only does art emerge from rubbish, but cooked food regains its place in art. Her little pictures of 'instructions for use' receive a special transformation through intellectual and emotional recharge, becoming recipes for art.