“Detoxing is even more important today because we live in a world that is becoming ever more polluted, the food we eat is more and more processed…the air we breathe is full of harmful gases and pollutants and the stresses of modern life are playing havoc with our health” (The Modern Detox, 2015).
The gory job of cutting out a lamb’s liver is “the bloodiest job we do,” the butcher said as I asked to buy a liver. I couldn’t help but to chuckle to myself. Detoxing seemed the perfect contrast to this: a way to cleanse, purify and de-stress the body; the recovery process we are meant to feel during a detox couldn’t be more different from the bloody massacre that goes on in the butchers.
My photograph consults how the detox craze has entered into the public discourse of healthy eating. This is undoubtedly linked to the way the detox diet is marketed as a way to lose weight. The “fat panic” originating from the Judeo-Christian moral’s forbiddance of sloth and gluttony has remained a central part of our food culture today, culminating in the “explosion of interest in the obesity epidemic” that has occurred the past 10 years (Lebesco, p.75 2010). Detoxing offers a quick solution to this; it promises rapid weight loss and improved health. Detoxing can also oppose the sinful implications of gluttony and indulgence by offering its volunteers “purification and redemption” (Klein and Kiat, p. 8, 2014). The modern discussions of detoxing generally involve either liquid-only juice diets, or limiting the diet to “clean” foods: inextricably linking the language of the “detox” to that of substance abuse. The extreme potential of detoxing to offer a dietary overhaul is exploited by marketing: the brand Pukka, for example, writes on their detox tea: “shrug off the old and embrace the new.”
In addition, this photograph questions the “science” behind detox-ing, by presenting a fake science experiment using a lamb’s liver. Ignoring the natural functions our livers and other organs have in ridding “toxins,” health-food literature suggests that our bodies need help (The detox kitchen, 2015). I filled beakers, jars and dishes with some of the most common detox-ing substances such as lemon, juices, cucumber and ginger, as well as some more unusual ones. Consuming Epsom salts and charcoal show the extreme lengths people go to in order to detox their bodies. Finally, I included chemical instruments- some genuine such as the pipettes along with household equipment to show how “science” is entering the kitchen.
I enhanced the brightness of this photo to create clinical appearance, but also to evoke to a sense of holiness or purity. This religious feeling links detoxing to my next piece, based on the word purity. Detoxing and the consumption of pure foods both offer a sense of spiritual healing based around food restriction. The modern detox only advocates for the consumption of the purest substances.
Lebesco K. 2010. “Fat panic and the new morality.” In Against Health: How Health Became the New Morality, ed Metzl, J. M. and Kirkland, A. New York: New York University Press.