Personal tools
log in | join | help
Sections

Spaces of Food #4: Betel Nut Beauties

by LiveModern Webmaster last modified Jan 04, 2012 03:04 AM
Editorial Rating: 1 2 3 4 5
Average Rating: 1 2 3 4 5 ( 0 votes)
by Geoff Manaugh (noreply@blogger.com) last modified Jan 23, 2011



 

 

[Image: From Betel Nut Beauties by Magda Biernat, courtesy of Clic Gallery].

This rounds out today's short series of posts written for GOOD's online festival of food-related writing.

I first heard of the Taiwanese spatial subculture of betel nut shacks last autumn when a former student of mine at USC, Yu-Quan Chen, showed me a project he once proposed, inspired by these anomalous yet everyday spaces.

[Image: From Betel Nut Beauties by Magda Biernat, courtesy of Clic Gallery].

I was thus interested to see that Polish-born, New York-based photographer Magda Biernat will be exhibiting a group of images she's made called Betel Nut Beauties, a few examples of which are seen here.

[Image: From Betel Nut Beauties by Magda Biernat, courtesy of Clic Gallery].

The Clic Gallery describes Biernat's project as "a photoseries documenting the compelling phenomenon of roadside betel nut stands across Taiwan."
    A fixture on the streets of urban and suburban Taiwan, these brightly lit, often ramshackle huts sell a mild stimulant made from the nut of the areca palm and wrapped in betel leaves... Staffed almost exclusively by young women, the stands cater to longhaul truck drivers and, like taxi dancers or cigarette girls in casinos, the betel nut girls are encouraged to dress in skimpy clothes to lure in male customers. Snapped while waiting for their next sale, Biernat's compassionate photographs capture the isolation and tedium of these sellers who themselves are on display, a daily existence bounded by walls of glass.
Biernat describes these buildings as "luminescent structures" where sex, economics, and food overlap—thus making the title of this post ("spaces of food...") referentially problematic, as if the women themselves are objects of both bodily and aesthetic consumption. "The colorful shops," Biernat writes, "with their scantily clad employees make for a startling contrast against Taiwan's often drab urban landscape."

[Images: From Betel Nut Beauties by Magda Biernat, courtesy of Clic Gallery].

"These are glass and neon jewels," Biernat adds, "beckoning the customer with the high of not only the betel nut, but of the interaction with the betel nut girls."

[Images: From Betel Nut Beauties by Magda Biernat, courtesy of Clic Gallery].

The exhibition opens February 7 at the Clic Gallery in New York, with an opening reception on February 10.

—Spaces of Food #5: Madeira Odorless Fish Market and the Tempelhof Ministry of Food
—Spaces of Food #4: Betel Nut Beauties
—Spaces of Food #3: The Mushroom Tunnel of Mittagong
—Spaces of Food #2: Inflatable Greenhouses on the Moon
—Spaces of Food #1: Agriculture On-The-Go and the Reformatting of the Planet

 

 

 
 
 

Website migration, maintenance and customization provided by Grafware.