Gastronomica: The Journal of Food and Culture, Spring 2008
In 2004, Bay Area conceptual artist April Banks traveled to West Africa, which produces seventy percent of the world’s cocoa, to learn firsthand about the cocoa farms of the region and their relationship to the modern-day chocolate industry. Her related research has been wide, including travel to cocoa farms in Cuba and a visit to the New York Board of Trade. Free Chocolate, Banks’s resulting body of work, follows cocoa’s global exchange from forest to palate, farmer to consumer, illustrating the mingled effects of desire, greed, and manipulation. This article examines two photographic works in the Free Chocolate series, placing them in their broader cultural and economic contexts.
Image credit: April Banks, The Hand I Eat With, 2007. C-print. Courtesy the artist.