the uncast

Issue 3

ISSUE 3: Food & Culture

Contents:

1. Yth In Excess 2. Comfort Food 3. Jasmine 4. BYO 5. Greens Gospel 6. Cooking Mama 7. Freestyling with Amy & Thuba

 

Yth In Excess

PHOTOGRAPHY: JAMES COOMER

STYLING: ELLE HIOE

FEATURING: DANZO, DENILSON MADEIRA LAY

In Yth in Excess, stylist Elle Hioe assembles a dreamy world cluttered with pink plastic objects and sugary snacks. Situating models Danzo and Denilson inside her childhood home, the series dresses ideas of naivety and innocence in an endemically internet aesthetic, creating soft but sinister portraits of male beauty.

While they don’t play a starring role, the food elements in this series add to the sense of excess while acting as signposts for the innocence of childhood, drawing on the power of taste to evoke what are often the strongest memories.  

Elle associates her own childhood with the taste of a crunchy topping of dried anchovies and peanuts that her father bringing home from Indonesia. “I used to nag him to get it for me, every time he came back from a trip”, she says.

 
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Comfort Food

PHOTOGRAPHY AND WORDS: GAL COHEN KVATINSKY

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From being born in Israel, I had been exposed to flavours and traditional foods which had heavily contributed to my cultural identity. Still young, I had been moved to Australia where my family had brought a combination of tradition and culture into our new beginning. The beauty within food is not only that it helps us exist, but helps us as individuals connect and share experiences beyond society. What truly makes the concept of comfort food special, is the context, memory and history it holds, further creating sentimental value.

 
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Others could disagree, but if someone asked what my go-to comfort food preference is, without a doubt, my answer would be a traditional shakshuka. Shakshuka is a Middle Eastern dish containing eggs cooked throughout a tomato-red pepper based sauce served in a hot pan.

Alongside the dish is usually warm pita to dip through the sensational sauce. Instead of picking up a knife and fork ready to tackle the pan, within tradition you would “wipe the sauce with the pita!” What makes the dish more than just food is the way it brings people together to socialise and generate memories. Likewise, the traditional bourekas stuffed with cheese follows through the same notion of using hands instead of cutlery.

 

My parent’s restaurant utilises these flavours and recipes through bringing together people to celebrate food and memories. Their ideology is, “real food, healthy, simple and just like home”. I am very fortunate to be surrounded by a selection of flavours from around the world, especially from living in Australia.

 
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Jasmine

DIGITAL AND FILM PHOTOGRAPHY: SARAH INDRAPUTRI

DIGITAL PHOTOGRAPHY AND WORDS: NICOLE WONG

TALENT: SHANNON SURYAWAN

SARAH INDRAPUTRI AND NICOLE WONG ARE BOTH AUSTRALIAN BORN ARTISTS WHO ARE INDONESIAN-CHINESE AND CHINESE RESPECTIVELY. IN THIS NOSTALGIC, YET PLAYFULLY INSOUCIANT SERIES OF PORTRAITS SHOT ON FILM AND DIGITALLY, SARAH AND NICOLE CAPTURE AND EXPLORE FEELINGS OF HOME IN AMONGST THE NOSTALGIC MISE-EN-SCÈNE OF ASIAN GROCERY STORES. THEY SEE THE BITTERSWEET CULTURAL CHRONICLE OF THEIR CHILDHOOD IN THE COLOURFUL PACKETS OF PRAWN CRACKERS, HAW FLAKES, AND JELLY, THEIR BASKETS BRIMMING WITH THINGS FROM HOME, AND THE HESITANT AUSTRALIAN-ACCENTED CHINESE TANGLED IN THEIR MOUTHS AT THE CHECKOUT.
 
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When you grow up as person of a different ethnicity to the ‘norm’ of the country in which you live in, you spend a large amount of time trying to be something you are not. Whether that is striving to be ‘Australian’ or striving to be Chinese, you may find that you are often, in fact, neither and both at the same time.

As two young women in the dawn of our twenties and careers, it is inevitable that our lives have reached a point of imminent introspection and reflection. This is where we find ourselves returning to a place that never tries to be anything other than what it is: Asian grocery stores.

 
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There is a great dissonance between the heralded Australiana and our personal experiences of this country we call home. As children, our vulnerability was found in the passively poisonous ignorance of sneers at ‘strange’ home-cooked lunches, callous comments about ‘exotic’ snacks and desserts, and jokes about the ubiquity of rice (often accurate because rice is fantastic, but not for you to orientalise).

We believe, as artists and as humans, in saturating this landscape and ideology with the unheard rhythms, character, and experiences that we witnessed as children. In this series, we seek to represent how we intellectually and emotionally feel in regards to being two young Chinese Australian women who have come full circle to once again find the freedom, excitement, and peace in being different.

 

The marriage of contrasting textures in soft, organic silhouettes speaks to an unfazed nonchalance. We embrace the hybrid, and we embrace the disparity. We are not wrestling or straining. The process of having come to accept, appreciate, and celebrate the parts of you that you once tried to supress deserves attention and reflection. Like an Asian kid in an Asian candy store, we once again enter a space of being childlike, curious, and free.

 
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We are first generation Aussie-Chinese kids with migrant parents. In our immediate narrative of Sydney, Australia, there is no path already trodden. And where there is no precedent, there is no paradigm. There is no historical, sociocultural, anecdotal bubble wrap to cushion our actions and choices. Where there is no precedent, there is obscurity and uncertainty.

But perhaps, in this obscurity is precisely where we have found great freedom to learn and to play.

 
 

BYO

CREATIVE DIRECTION: MARISA SUEN

PHOTOGRAPHER: JACOB LUMSDAINE 

FEATURING: MONISHA CHIPPADA & SEAMUS PHELAN

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Marisa Suen – wearable textile artist, multidisciplinary designer and creative – brings the picnic table to the body in BYO. A self-described “sucker for experimentation”, Marisa’s work plays with form, structure and prints without losing the appeal of a wearable garment.

Marisa believes that the line between art and fashion can always be blurred, and that the two disciplines go hand-in-hand to create conceptually enriched and over-the-top pieces.

 
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Greens Gospel

PHOTOGRAPHY AND CREATIVE DIRECTION: GEORGINA SOLOMON 
DESIGNS AND STYLING: JEFF MCCANN
FEATURING: ETHAN KINLOCK
LOCATION: AARON J. MARCH 

Jeff McCann is a art director, designer and maker who works primarily with repurposed cardboard sourced from local retailers and fruit shops to make is theatrical fashion and accessories. He is inspired by ceremony, ritual, colour and play; bringing back a childlike sense of wonder to the viewer. 

Georgina is a freelance photographer, stylist and creative director, and has just finished film school. Creatively, she’s inspired by connections with people: their energy draws her in and informs her work in photography, creative direction, and study of acting. With this shoot, Ethan's androgynous look inspired the pair to play with symbols of the virgin Mary.

Georgina was drawn to Jeff's designs when she stumbled across his stall at Splendour In the Grass, and the pair discovered an instant creative chemistry and made plans to shoot together in Sydney.  

A few weeks later, Georgina was offered a warehouse-style apartment in Sydney where the shoot with Jeff could take place. They then spent the next couple of days sipping tea in his backyard scouting models and conceptualising ideas, and Greens Gospel was born. 

What you eat says a lot about you. Food is now being used to convey a certain image of yourself, much like the clothes you wear. Social media has facilitated this transformation of food into fashion - a trend where it's the norm to post photos of what you eat, keep up with foodie trends and hunt down cafes in concealed laneways. For some, it's like a religion. Is the cafe the new church?

The leafy greens in this shoot were purchased from a Chinese grocer and Jeff made the costume
pieces from repurposed cardboard sourced from a local retailer.

 

 

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Cooking Mama

PHOTOGRAPHY AND WORDS: SERENA SIOW

3 families. 3 mothers. 3 meals. 

Due to my diverse upbringing in Australia, I've always been interested in how different families eat dinner - the process of making, consuming and cleaning up after meals. When I was in primary school, I had a South African friend and whenever I was over at her place for dinner, they would pray in Afrikaans and eat at their breakfast bench.

In Cooking Mama I photograph and interview three 'mamas' in my life - my mum, my best friend's mum and my ex boyfriend's mum - from three different backgrounds (Malaysian, Australian and Italian), family situations and personalities. In doing this I hope to capture a snippet of the diversity we have here in Australia.

 

Agnes

What’s for dinner tonight?
Spaghetti bolognese.

What time is dinner usually?
I try and make it as early as possible but normally it’s about 7-7:30pm.

Are you in charge of providing meals?
I am.

Does anyone help you cook?
Tim (my son) tries to cook once a week.

Who do you cook for?
My family. My kids. Tim, Serena, and Cass who’s moved away but I still think of her every meal time. To me cooking is an act of love.

Do you enjoy cooking?
Yes. I never thought I would but once I started, I did.

How often do you eat out/ get takeaway?
I cook more than I go out and I usually cook more of a meal so that there is some left over for the next day. I like to have fresh meals cooked at least four times a week.

Where did this recipe come from?
To be honest, this bolognese, I just deducted it on my own. I know that these are all the ingredients and have modified it over the years from the basic need to feed my children food that they would enjoy. I'm pretty much self taught.

On this night, four of us sat at the dining table. Agnes, Tim (my brother), Alex (a friend) and I. We don’t get to eat all together most nights so this was special. We aren’t usually home at the same time and often eat alone separately. The food is served in dishes in the kitchen for us to come and help ourselves. When I was little, we had a two-person table so we would take turns to eat: my brother and I or my mother and I. My mum had never heard of or tasted spaghetti until she came to Australia when she was 23. We take turns to clean up after dinner and all try to help out whenever we can.

 

Diana

What’s for dinner tonight?
Penne Bolognese with sausages, Italian sausages.

What time is dinner usually?
Around 6ish, it varies.

Are you in charge of providing meals?
Yes, most of the time.

Does anyone help you cook?
Dom (my husband) sometimes.

Do you enjoy cooking?
If I'm in the mood. I cook because I have to feed the family and I don’t like getting takeaway all the time. I’d rather cook a healthy meal.

Where do your recipes come from?
My Italian ones are from family and the others are just ones we enjoy.

Is cooking stressful or therapeutic for you?
I think I put too much pressure on myself to make a healthy meal instead of just doing whatever.

Diana, Dom, their sons Jacob and Samuel, and I sat together to eat on this particular night. Diana plated each person’s meal and we sat together in the dining area. Diana described her family Italian dinners as a time for spending time together while Dom’s childhood dinners were more 'eat and run'. Afterwards, Dennel and Domm cleaned up after everyone returned their plates to the kitchen. Leftovers are a staple in the household and Diana routinely freezes spaghetti sauce to free up time in the week, "it depends on what I'm cooking... I try to have leftovers because they love leftovers".

 

Dennell

What’s for dinner tonight?
Spaghetti bolognese.

What time is dinner usually?
6.

Are you in charge of providing meals?
Joel (my partner) cooks most nights and Kaitlyn (my daughter) cooks every Wednesday. It's difficult with work to cook most nights.

Where did this recipe come from?
If only you knew what my mum and dad used to call spaghetti in the 70’s! It had no flavour, it was about just browning the beef and adding tomato sauce on top. And then my sister in law who is Italian added mushrooms, zucchini, carrots and everything to it. It’s weird you know, we still call it spaghetti.

Dinner with Dennell, her son Max, and Joel took place in their dining area and Dennell plated each person’s meal. Dennell grew up with older sisters, "Dinner was at 6 o'clock on the dot. If you weren’t there, you didn’t get anything".  Nowadays,  it’s difficult to juggle the family's dynamics with work and school. Afterwards, Joel helped clear up and there were enough leftovers to save a bowl for Kaitlyn to come home to after work.

Freestyling with Amy & Thuba

TALENT: AMY ZHANGTHUBA NDIBALI

 

Amy Zhang

I’m first and foremost and dancer and performer. I teach and perform in shows, videos, commercials, print shoots. I’m also a producer for Groove Therapy, where I help Vanessa create whatever we’re doing – from marketing to organising shoots and editing videos.

I started dancing relatively late, in my last year of high school – just as something to burn energy in between studying and stuff. One class a week turned into every day, and because Brisbane’s scene is so small, people just started asking me to work with them, and eventually I had the realisation of “I could actually do this for a living”. It just started as something that I really love doing, and the fact that I could get paid for it was kind of a bonus.

Both my parents are from China (Guangzhou) but I was born and raised in Brisbane, so the culture isn’t a big part of my life. The only thing that I think has influenced my dancing is the fact that my parents didn’t see it as a career until pretty recently. It wasn’t that they weren’t supportive, but I think that it was an added incentive and drive for me to prove that I could make a living out of it.

Tell us about the food

The things that I really have strong memories of, growing up, are the occasion foods like dumplings. You knew it was something special when we were making dumplings – the whole family would sit down together, we’d all be wrapping them up and chatting away. Then my mum would cook them and we would sit down to eat together. It was a special thing.

With every Asian celebration, there’s a certain food you eat – like you have mooncakes during the Lunar Festival – so for me food and celebration just go hand in hand. It’s kind of a ritual, where the food you’re eating is really tied to the time of year.

Dumplings are one of my favourite foods, which is mainly why I chose them. When we were kids and saw the dumpling wrappers in the fridge it was like, “hell yeah”. It’s how I roped my sister, who is also in the shoot, into coming on the day.

Tell us about the shoot

I freestyled the dance on the day. I’ve never danced with chopsticks before, so I thought about how I might use those, but other than that it was all done on the spot. I picked a song that I really liked from when I was younger, and tried to vibe with the feeling of a meal and movements that I would normally do when I’m eating.

The hardest thing to do was actually after dancing – to sit back down and start eating like nothing had happened. It’s fun to take on a brief and a concept that challenges you creatively and be able to watch it back afterwards.

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Thuba Ndibali

I’m a dancer, director and choreographer. What I’m really passionate about is cultural dancing, and creating movements that talk about a culture.

My culture is Ndebele, I grew up in Zimbabwe and left when I was about 14. When I was really young I was always exposed to people dancing around in the neighbourhood in their own different crews. On the 31st of December every year, all these crews would perform and compete on a big stage and everyone really looked up to them. I think that inspired me to be a dancer, the idea of dancing on a stage with your own crew. Throughout high school and university, it’s always been there – I’ve changed the style of dancing but it’s always been my passion.

Tell us about the food

The food me and my mum are eating in the shoot is isitshwala [cornmeal] and imibhida [greens] with some beef. We ate it heaps when I was growing up – we’d slaughter a cow and we’d have that all the time. This was our staple food, the main meal of the day. Around 8 o’clock we’d all sit down and have isitshwala with meat and that brought us together as a family, it connects us to our culture.

Tell us about the shoot

When I freestyled the dance on the day, I was thinking about telling a story about where I started, growing up, and where I am now; how I’ve grown as a dancer. It was kind of an expression of how I’ve evolved as a dancer and as a person. For me, it’s also about appreciating my culture even more as I’ve grown.

The lyrics of the song I chose, in Zulu, mean something like: “I was dancing when I was young; I’ve gotten to this age… now I’m at this level”. So they speak to this theme of growth and appreciation. On the day of the shoot I still hadn’t found a song that I really felt like expressing myself to, but when I was sitting down early in the morning with Amy I heard that song and thought, “ok, this is what I want to dance to”.

Usually before we eat we’ll wash our hands – you know, you have this ritual that you’re used to before you sit down at the table. It felt very weird for me to break that rhythm. That was actually the hardest part.

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