The Joy of Cooking - Rachel Bee Porter


The Joy of Cooking

Having been steeped in the culture of home and lifestyle magazines, I seek to question the expectations I developed as a result of these carefully controlled and constructed visions of domestic life.  I aim to subvert the delicately and deliberately crafted lifestyles found in the magazines I pored over for years, and to also pervert the language and style of commercial and editorial photography.

White Chocolate Cranberry Cake with
White Chocolate Buttercream with
Snow Mints and Eggnog
© 2009-2010 Rachel Bee Porter

I am exploring the aftermath of unfulfilled expectations. My disillusionment manifests itself in a playful, yet irreverent, defiance.  Through the intermingling of creation and destruction, I am able to explore the consequences of imploded ideas and expectations.


I create scenes that could conceivably be pictured in the pages of lifestyle magazines illustrating various articles about gatherings and celebrations.  I arrange, style, and light the set-ups in a way that would be consistent with commercial or editorial photography.  Rather than photographing these perfect scenarios, I throw the cake into the meticulously arranged scene.  By doing this, I am able to willfully render the cake useless and further it’s own futility, while also sabotaging the type of imagery that I had coveted for so long and all that it represents.

Chocolate Cake with
Chocolate Cream Frosting with
Macaroons and Espresso Macchiatos
© 2009-2010 Rachel Bee Porter

When the cake is thrown, it disrupts the meticulously arranged set-up.  In that briefest of moments when the cake strikes the surface, the plane of the illusion is broken, and new creative possibilities and potentialities are born.  I am taking the elements of my known universe, of the potent imagery that surrounds me, and fracturing them into a new paradigm that seeks to question the constraints of the old.  By splintering the glossy fa├žade, new confectionary constellations of occurrences are formed, re-charting our common perceptions and opening up a new way of seeing.

Tender Lemon Rosebud Cake with
 Lemon Frosting, Vanilla Scones and Tea
© 2009-2010 Rachel Bee Porter

In this stroke of creative destruction, new questions emerge from the remnants, and the stillness of the aftermath allows for the viewer to reflect upon the destruction the cake has wrought.  The pristine form of the cake is ruined, and new, more nebulous forms are created.  This moment, this act, is one of simultaneous destruction and creation – subversion and perversion.  The tenants I grew up subscribing to are destroyed, and I am creating my own archetype by perverting the formula of imagery.

Hummingbird Cake with
Cream Cheese Frosting, Dried Pineapple Flowers,
Chocolate Candies, and Caribbean Breeze Cocktails
© 2009-2010 Rachel Bee Porter

Within the images, there is attraction and repellence, absorption and repugnance.  The intermingling of the fragile cake, viscous icing, creamy liquids, starched linens, delicate flowers, and shattered glass both invites and disgusts.  It is in the muddle of this intermingling that these cultural symbols are destroyed, the phantasmagoria falls, and new possibilities emerge.

Tunnel of Fudge Cake with
Chocolate Glaze, Chocolate Truffles and
Root Beer Floats with Vanilla Bean Ice Cream
© 2009-2010 Rachel Bee Porter

Born and raised in central Pennsylvania, Rachel Bee Porter holds an MFA in Photography and Related Media from Parsons The New School for Design, and a BFA in Professional Photographic Illustration from Rochester Institute of Technology. Her work has been exhibited in venues such as the Center for Photography at Woodstock, Texas Women’s University, and Aperture Gallery in New York City. Her work has most recently been seen at the Hendershot Gallery in New York City. She has contributed work to several publications, such as Creative Quarterly and Photographer’s Forum. She lives and works in Pittsburgh, PA.

Lemon Meringue Cake with
Key Lime Tartlets and
Margaritas on the Rocks
© 2009-2010 Rachel Bee Porter

You can see more from Rachel Bee Porter's 'The Joy of Cooking' in prism#05

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