How do gender-specific codes materialise in food products and staged representations of food consumption in popular culture? Where is there potential for critical interventions and how can these be adequately communicated?
Our ways of eating are not natural. Eating as such is a culturally defined (and culture-defining) act, an expression of someone’s life and actions in society. As part of a complex fabric regulated by different parameters, the social role of a subject is interwoven with their buying and consumption behaviour. Gender, as one of these parameters, affects individuals and their habitus in the form of codes embodied by packaging design, advertising and media. Many of these codes are binary and reductionist. Between the «gender shift» trend and an opposite, «retrotopian» tendency, a new field of study opens up, the inner tensions of which need to be explored in detail. «Chips & Cheats» points the way for reflections on food and gender from an unconventional angle.
Laura Haensler is an excellent designer and progressive thinker. With her work «Chips & Cheats» she shows how even small everyday actions such as «eating crisps» can raise important questions about gender norms, construction of identity and the design of society. For her project she developed the «Food Tool» concept based on strategies of subversive design and guerrilla communication. With her food tools she unconventionally prompts a critical discourse at the heart of the relationship between food and gender. A dissertation project which impresses through theory and design, and is highly relevant in terms of the gender shift. «Chips & Cheats» reflects on everyday behaviour and illustrates how deeply our day-to-day lives are pervaded by hegemonial symbols and social structures.