What happens when a colorful set designer and a fine art food photographer join forces? Evidently, Lazy Mom, a strange yet wonderful conglomeration of food stop-motion animation, surreal GIFS, unlikely still lives, and zany zines.
Phyllis Ma and Josie Keefe, two Columbia graduates based in New York City, began their collaborative adventure with a character. What if, somewhere out there, a housewife quit tirelessly prepping meals for her family and instead began to play around with her groceries? Under this alter ego, the women engaged in a food-fueled affair with slapdash combinations of color, texture, and shape.
As compositions came together, the duo created depth by incorporating feminist themes into their artwork. Hot Pockets garnished with fresh herbs and mystery accouterments resemble something out of a 1970’s Betty Crocker fever dream. Grated phallic hot dogs split down the middle are hard not to wince at.
Vibrant colors and curious subject matter quickly caught eyes. The whimsical experimentation soon transformed into a serious business venture when big names like Vice, Tumblr, and Bacardi began commissioning their work. Starting out with mini-publications, the influx of editorial work lead the pair to begin working with moving mediums. In turn, their portfolio took on a whole new dimension.
Animation and still life may seem to be in direct contention with one another. However, Keefe and Ma have managed merge the two into something palatable and hypnotic. Sausage meat and bologna could suddenly become sentient forms of life. Fluids could transfer freely between two plastic milk jugs. Even plated meals could take on new life as a food stop-motion animation, ceaselessly spinning in circles.
It’s clear to see that, as weird as Lazy Mom can be at times, the ladies that breathe life into these images have done their homework. Everything from the pronkstillevens of the Dutch Golden Age to cookbook photography collecting dust informs each scene. Though some may not understand their contemporary approach, this makes their work something more than a passing fad. Instead, their foil clad food animations and gaudy place settings are an innovative addition to a long line of clever, duplicitous food art.
Growing up, your mother may have told you not to play with your food. But, as Lazy Mom has proved, sometimes breaking the rules can lead to a big reward.