Mark Menjivar’s “Refrigerators”

By: Nikki Nies

The love of food has no boundaries. You only have to look at Mark Menjivar’s portfolio of “Refrigerators” to grasp the concept of “a picture is worth a thousand words.” I found his recent photo montage in National Geographic to be too interesting not to share! Menjivar’s photo are an insider’s look into the concept of “you are what you eat.”

Before looking at the included captions, what’re your initial impression of the refrigerators? Any guesses as to what kind of person the food belongs to?

Marketing professional/documentary filmmakers, 2008, left, and 2012, right
Fridge of marketing professional and documentary filmmaker in 2008 (L) and in 2012 (R) | San Diego, CA | 3-Person Household | Efforts have helped send millions of dollars to children in Uganda
L: The fridge of a photographer/carpenter in 2008 R: The photographer, now homemaker's fridge in 2012
L: The fridge of a photographer/carpenter in 2008 R: The photographer, now homemaker’s fridge in 2012 | San Antonio, TX | 3-Person Household | 12 Point Buck shot on family property
Midwife/Middle School Science Teacher | San Antonio, TX | 4-Person Household (including dog) | First week after deciding to eat all local produce

I’m sad to admit that I wasn’t aware of Menjivar’s project, “You Are What You Eat”, which started in 2007 until I was perusing an overview of his works recently.  However, if you’re late to the party like me, it’s not to late to peruse the photos and get an insider’s look into people’s lives through their fridges, literally.

As you can see, a lot of Menjivar’s photos are side by side pictures of 2008 and then of the same fridge in 2012. Menjivar had initially taken picture’s a midwife’s fridge in 2008, who had just started a commitment to eating only local produce. In 2012, the presence of Dole and Minute Maid products attest to how that turned out. Additionally, he revisted a bartender in 2012, after initially having a fridge stuffed to the brim with Styrofoam take-out containers, and it smelled so bad that Menjivar almost couldn’t stand to keep the door open long enough to photograph it. Fast forward to 2012, bartender lost a lot of weight and drastically changed his eating habits, but the American flag towel that he used to absorb dripping in the back of the fridge remains.

Bartender's fridge in 2008 (L) and 2012 (R)
Bartender’s fridge in 2008 (L) and 2012 (R) | San Antonio, TX | 1-Person Household | Goes to sleep at 8AM and wakes up at 4PM daily

His project spanned over four years, traveling to over twenty American communities, peering into more than sixty fridges in the hopes to explore the intersection between eating habits and identity.  His work has been exhibited at museums and universities across the country.  I would say he successfully achieved his aim, wouldn’t you? What does your fridge say about you?

Photo Credit: Mark Menjivar 


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