‘Inedible’: Mouthwatering Food You Can’t Eat

Curators’ Corner

‘Inedible’: Mouthwatering Food You Can’t Eat


Your friend’s juicy steak arrives at the dinner table, still sizzling from the grill. Instead of reaching for his knife and fork, he takes out his smart phone for a round of sirloin selfies, determined to make his Instagram followers envy what he ate that evening.

Sound familiar? Generation Y has given new meaning to “you are what you eat,” never missing an opportunity to show the world on social media what’s for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Food selfies, as they’ve been monikered, are here to stay, but even the most hardcore foodographers will be wary of snapshotting their snapper after viewing T.Q. Lee’s ‘Inedible’ photo series.

Lee, an Australian photographer based in Melbourne, used household items not fit for consumption – tire rubbers, Lego bricks hazardous chemicals, shaving cream and tampons – to craft beautiful and (at first glance) very appetizing photographs of staple meals – chocolate cake, hamburgers and tacos to name a few.

“The series is both a fun visual pun and a comment on the artificial nature of convenience food,” Lee explains on his website.

“There certainly appears to be a growing objectification even fetishism surrounding food — the idea of shooting before you eat, has become almost a custom.”

To better visualize this, here is an example: The photo below looks like a plate of savory glazed donuts and a steaming cup of hot chocolate. The reality – Waxed rolled socks with dirty hot shaving cream. Yum.

The inspiration behind Lee’s project wasn’t just the younger generation’s obsession with photographing their food, but also Lee’s own childhood growing up in a common 1980s home where still-life food photographs were considered as fashionable as family portraits.

“As a child of the 80s I grew up with fond memories of still-life, photographic prints of breads, pastas, fruit and vegetables captured in the literal style of the era,” Lee says. “The pictures hung in the houses of my family and friends and I would spend hours identifying all the ingredients and looking at every detail.”

His series reflects the 1980s style, with monotone bright pink or blue backgrounds, the likes of which you’d find at a typical Mom & Pop diner.

If your appetite isn’t completely ruined yet, visit Lee’s website and check out the entire ‘Inedible’ food series here.

Triple Layer Mud Cake

Frozen Tampons

Breakfast Bricks with Glass of Red Oxide Turpentine