“What would I use as a metaphor for the best part of my life if there were no longer any sweets?”

—Yoko Tawada translated by Susan Bernofsky  

Akiko Ida & Pierre Javelle, MINIMIAM

Akiko Ida & Pierre Javelle, MINIMIAM

In the tiny Minimiam studio, just two steps from the famous Moulin Rouge in Paris, an entire universe of miniature figurines waits to be photographed against landscapes crafted out of food. Akiko Ida and Pierre Javelle met while studying at the School of Decorative Arts in Paris, and since 2002, the pair have been creating these miniature worlds populated by German-made train set figurines, placed amidst delicious sets, carefully constructed using real food items. Minimiam is their unique brand of food photography that stands out so brilliantly from the bog-standard flatlays that we can’t seem to escape.

Drawing from their childhood experiences, Minimiam combines Akiko’s passion for textures—especially alimentary ones—and for miniatures, and Pierre's love of toys and the imaginative world of comics. Each image typically takes a day to shoot, but it can take several days to prepare for, conceptualize, and build. The attention to detail in every image warrants a much closer look than most food photography—a Minimiam image, usually in diptych form, tells a story (or indeed many stories) related to the food in focus:

The first image shows a close up of the action of the figure, but the meaning is not explicit. The second image shows the general scene allowing the viewer to discover the meaning and to continue the adventure according to his or her own references.

As Ida and Javelle note, creating Minimiam scenes is an opportunity to fulfil much narrative potential in different types of food, creating stories and commentaries on food politics and ethics. From climate change to genetically modified food and junk food, Minimiam is for them not only a playful opportunity to reimagine our relationships with food, but also an exercise in visualising food and its socio-political milieux.

FEAST FOR THE EYES: Curator Susan Bright, in conversation with Bernard Hay

FEAST FOR THE EYES: Curator Susan Bright, in conversation with Bernard Hay