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Interview with Jimmy Fike - Gastro Obscura

Saturday, August 21, 2021 5:02 PM | Anonymous

Lemonade berries are as sweet and sour as their name implies. All photos courtesy of Jimmy Fike

Gaze on Ghostly Portraits of North America’s Wild Edibles

From familiar flowers to unusual salad greens.

by Anne Ewbank August 20, 2021

Jimmy Fike is on his way to a campsite when I call him. “Jeez, a lady almost hit me. I’m driving,” he says offhandedly. But unlike most of us, if Fike’s car broke down or if he wandered a bit too far from his campsite, he could likely eat his way back to civilization.

That’s because, for the last 13 years, Fike has been photographing North America’s edible flora. But instead of snapping pictures in the field, he carefully harvests the plants and takes them home to photograph. During the editing process, he only leaves a few splashes of color in the image to identify edible parts of the plant. With the plants pinned up like butterflies, the result is both vivid and somehow gruesome.

But that’s the point. Fike often collages together stems and root systems to create perfect, archetypal versions of plants, then adjusts colors to make the plant appear to “pulsate and move.” Plants, he says, are “locked in the cycle of death and rebirth,” and the portraits are meant to mirror that line between life and oblivion.

A mountain marsh marigold, photographed in Idaho, looks almost like a sea creature.

It’s a very different type of landscape photography, which Fike maintains is his main style. Thirteen years ago, he says, he “hit a wall” and took up his current project. While he hopes to “help people become more ecologically and environmentally conscious,” he still considers his work more artistic than educational. “If you recognize one of those plants, then go outside the gallery and eat it, that’s art to me.”

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