Elena Petrossian and Verónica González met through a friend of a friend, of whom they never heard about again – “an interesting cosmic pull that brought us together,” as they call it. They have since worked collaboratively and opened a creative studio that bridges art with food: Ananas Ananas.
The duo, who instantly clicked after meeting in Mexico City, build handcrafted installations that are fully edible and combine their backgrounds in graphic design with their love for food to provide a unique catering experience through their artistic language. Ananas Ananas is not only a creative studio but also a way to bring people together around the table, by employing food as a universal language and a political act. As the masterminds behind it, Elena and Verónica share with us some of their thoughts on culinary traditions, food waste, and the value of ephemeral artworks.
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"Divina Comida" for Kin Euphorias
Elena, Verónica, before we get to know your project, tell us a bit about yourselves. Who are you two individually?
Los Angeles-born Elena has a background in graphic design and art direction. Coming from an Armenian background, she was raised by women who were homemakers that implemented a culture around the kitchen. As a child, she recalls having a set dinner time with her family every night. There, they created a safe space to delve into discussions and overcome obstacles together. Since then, sitting around the dinner table has made her feel safe to open up and be vulnerable.
Verónica, an industrial designer with a Northern Mexican heritage, finds inspiration in the way food relates to our cultural and everyday journeys. Her work aims to communicate the rich history behind the craftspeople of Mexico and the preservation of traditional and handmade techniques. As a child, she was taught to see food as a way to bring people together.
As a collaborative duo, you have shown how well your ideas harmonize together and that creativity has no limits. Tell us a bit more about how did you two meet and what made this artistic alliance come about.
It’s actually a funny story we always love to tell. Elena met a girl in LA before she moved to Mexico City that had a friend living in Mexico City, so she connected them. That friend put us two in touch, but we never heard from her again. We ended up setting a day to cook at Elena’s house for fun, started talking, and realized we shared so many of the same goals, references and love of food art. It was an interesting cosmic pull that brought us together. Then it took us about a month to organize our thoughts, moodboards, website, social media, etc., and Ananas Ananas was born.
You both come from cities with a rich gastronomical background – Los Angeles and Mexico City. Is this one of the reasons that made you bridge art and food? How was the concept born?
We had both noticed that there aren’t too many events or dining experiences where critical thinking goes into the way we eat. We see pop-ups and big productions of food ‘museums’ that do a very good job of creating spaces to immerse yourself, however, it’s never edible. As designers and lovers of food, we wanted to create a studio that catered to this new artistic way of immersing and eating food.
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"Sustrato" for Tezontle Studio
Ananas Ananas is not a traditional creative studio, how did you come up with the name? Does the word ‘ananá’ (pineapple) have a deeper or more symbolic meaning to you?
Our goal as a studio is to showcase food representation as a universal language. The way we approach food shapes us as individuals and socials. We seek to organically communicate that. We chose this word (Ananas) because it’s universal. It’s the scientific word for pineapple, which is used in every language except for English.
If we talk about food, we inevitably talk about people, culture, and human connection. How do you manage to portray and engage all (or some) of these themes/concepts in your projects?
When strangers are put in a situation that is a unique food experience, there is automatically a common ground, so human connection is inevitable. In our testing phases, we discuss how we want our guests to feel when they walk into the room.
What would you say food and arts have in common? On what do they differ?
Art and food are no different for us. Both are political acts that define us as individuals. Some people can argue that food is only a means for survival, but if you really sit and think about where everything comes from and how our planet creates these beautiful pieces and fruits, vegetables, etc., a whole new world of appreciation opens up.
“Our goal as a studio is to showcase food representation as a universal language. The way we approach food shapes us as individuals and socials.”
Since your installations are made out of different ingredients like fruits, vegetables, tubers, or seafood, they must require handcrafting skills and patience. Is it difficult to assemble or preserve the food?
It requires a great deal of patience to build the installations, which has been such a learning curve for us. It’s complex to assemble, and more likely than not, the first three to five times, it will break or not hold. But the key has always been to keep trying, be as prepared as possible, and run different tests to have it nailed down.
As far as preserving the food, our events are usually one day long, and we are strategic about what we leave out and what foods last longer. More likely than not, we have our amazing team that constantly sanitizes and replaces foods in the installation when guests come and go, so it technically doesn’t stay out for long.
How long can one of your installations endure and still be edible?
One day. We’ve done weekend exhibits over the course of two or three days, however, it’s always taken down, cleaned and reinstalled the next day.
This brings me to the next question. All your work is inherently ephemeral, what are the pros and cons of working like this? Do you ever feel like you’d like one of your projects to last longer?
When you experience one of our installations, you receive a special once-in-a-life-time work of art. We always say that our work is temporary and needs to be enjoyed mindfully and in the present moment. It’s a chance to immerse yourself into what is happening then and there because it will be eaten and the only things left over will be crumbs. It’s very romantic if you think about it.
We’ve discussed working ‘the regular way,’ showcasing pieces at galleries for guests, curators and collectors to buy and experience in their homes. But it’s not something we are prioritizing since we have chosen to perform as a live act more than a collectable piece.
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"Sunday Suppers" Presented by Ananas Ananas
What would you say is your speciality? From a culinary and artistic point of view.
We pursue to question certain understandings about our relationship with food. Should I eat it or is it contemplative? Is it ok if I go first and grab it with my hands? Should I share it? These are some of the questions we see in people’s eyes in every single one of our installations. We can say it works as a way to soften people into their most vulnerable state and talk about that with the people around whether they know each other or not.
One of the topics addressed in your artwork is food waste. How do you wish to change the audience’s perspective on food? What are some of the solutions you propose?
We do everything together from start to finish – we don’t really know how, but we created a fantastic duo. Of course, each one has her strength, and that’s the beauty of working together on everything because, this way, we’re constantly learning from each other.
Ananas Ananas uses food as a universal language. What are you trying to say to the world with the projects that are born from the studio? Is food a tool to unite us all?
Food has always been something that brings people together and unites. We don’t want to change that in any way but acknowledge it as an artistic piece.
What is the biggest dream/goal you wish to achieve with this project?
Our biggest dream would be to take Ananas around the globe. Our goal is to showcase this type of art in galleries and museums and play with the notion that the art that lives in these popular places can be temporary, it’s just material. When you go into a gallery and see beautiful works of art, you can’t touch them or feel that sensory experience with the piece. We want guests to feel our pieces and better yet, eat them!
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"Divina Comida" for Kin Euphorias
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"Extraños" Exhibit Presented by Ananas Ananas
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"Extraños" Exhibit Presented by Ananas Ananas
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"Frutas y Verduras" for Ananas Ananas Launch Party
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"Frutas y Verduras" for Ananas Ananas Launch Party
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"Eat My Words" for The Sunday Stories
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"Eat My Words" for The Sunday Stories
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