Food porn gets everyone’s engines revving: images of pristine plates of immaculate profiteroles, steaming piles of mash and unctuous bowls of caviar, that throaty M&S voice uttering sweet nothings into your ear, etc. Well, young British artist Maisie Cousins is sort of the opposite. This is food photography without the glitz and faux-sheen, and it’s built to make you confused, uncomfortable, and grossed out, but still somehow really, really hungry.
Over big printouts, light boxes and projections, Cousins arranges a kaleidoscopic universe of gloopy, almost unidentifiable foods. You can spot ripped-open pink boiled eggs, torn-apart figs, prawns crawling with flies, but everything else is a guess. Heaps of what could be noodles look like piles of worms, dumplings swimming in oil and water look like disembodied tonsils. There are ultra close-ups of some glistening yellow structures, puddles of shimmering liquid, strings of pink filaments – all alien and bizarre but somehow tantalisingly delicious.
Then you spy little mermaids, baby dolls and swans lost in sauce and dressing. It’s like a child chucking their toys into mud and mashed banana: a gorgeous, tittering, unhinged mess.
Less good are the more restrained simple shots of lettuce and peas, but the rest is a treat. Cousins’s approach is so gungey, sloppy and full of humour. There’s something bodily about her images, something sexual and viscous, that begs you to dive in and stuff your eyes and face. Loosen your belt, tuck in your napkin and gorge yourself on her images.