Oh women and their salads! The Hairpin’s Edith Zimmerman publishes a textless collection of stock photos picturing women eating lettuce alone today and it’s hilarious. As it happens, the artistic precedent for weird stock image collections dates back earlier than one would think. Currently on display at the Metropolitan Museum of Art is John Baldessari’s “Structure by Color Series: Simone with Fruit”, a series of six photographs completed in 1975, picturing the blissful eating of an orange and pear. It’s unclear if Baldessari shot these photographs himself, but aside from the occasional licking of fruit, just like Zimmerman’s images, this series highlights the natural bounty that naturally exudes from a woman whenever she draws near garden produce.
Coincidentally, in 2009 I published an essay by canonical artist Martha Rosler, who labeled many of the stereotypes that accompanied the stock photos she found of woman in the kitchen. Looking through this essay again, I’m reminded of how common stock photos of pregnant women with vegetables are and their relative absence in Zimmerman’s essay. I guess the conclusion to be drawn here is that society frowns on pregnant happy women eating salad alone.
Other artists prefer to make their commentary less explicit than Rosler. Previous to her essay I published a screen grab of a Google image search by artist Joel Holmberg using the search term “Woman eating grapes”. By 2009, that screenshot ended up in a public advertising space in Berlin out front the Clockwork Gallery. All of which is to say, that Edith Zimmerman may have a very bright future ahead of her in the profitless world of fine art should she so chose.