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Living-With and Dying-With

Thoughts on the Affective Matter of Food and Fashion

Image: 'Blood Processing' by Anna de Vriend

By Daniëlle Bruggeman& Hanka van der Voet

Danielle Bruggeman and Hanka van der Voet contributed to the new edition of the online journal APRIA with the essay 'Living-With and Dying-With: Thoughts on the Affective Matter of Food and Fashion'. In this essay, they highlight the urgency of moving beyond current processes of de-humanisation and de-animalisation. In doing so, they argue for the importance of engaging with food and fashion in their radically material forms, as active and affective—living—matter that we sensorially engage with. This is a way to move beyond the visual, which is so often privileged in the (symbolic) production of fashion.


In the essay ‘Why Bacalhau Will Always Taste Like Home,’ Isabel Vincent reflects on growing up in a Portuguese immigrant household in Toronto in the 1970s, where she ate bacalhau (salted cod) several times a week. Bacalhau has long been an essential part of the Mediterranean kitchen, and Vincent would often join her father on Saturday morning grocery trips to the Portuguese fishmongers of Toronto’s Kensington Market, where they would buy large slabs of salted cod. These would then be soaked in the cellar at home, where they were placed in bowls of water over a 48-hour period. Many years later, grown up and living in New York, Vincent returns to the comfort of bacalhau. Mourning her mother’s death and the end of her marriage, she takes the train to Newark’s Ironbound district, a Portuguese neighbourhood, and buys herself a slab of bacalhau. At home, she repeats the process of soaking, and prepares the bacalhau just as her mother used to. She writes: ‘As I removed the first batch of golden brown croquettes from the oil and set them on a paper bag to drain, I split one open and savoured my creation. Crunchy and sublime with a hint of salt, they offered immediate comfort, transporting me to happier times in an instant.’[1]

Just as with Marcel Proust’s ‘petites madeleines’—the taste of which transported him back to his childhood Sundays with aunt Léonie—Vincent shows the visceral power of the memory of our senses; in this case, the memory of taste. Both authors point towards the affective potential of food; the possibility of being moved through use of our senses, which reflects art theorist Simon O’Sullivan’s statement that ‘affects are moments of intensity, a reaction in/on the body at the level of matter.’[2] Here, affect is the initial moment of being moved, being touched. As both Vincent and Proust show, the body’s physiological reaction is connected to both our emotional state of being and the memories we embody.

Read the article by Daniëlle Bruggeman and Hanka van der Voet, 'Living-With and Dying-With'.

  • Human Values
  • New Materialism

DATE PUBLISHED October 14, 2020