How do you make the food stick to people's skin?
Mmmmmmm, very interesting question. First of all, there is no artificial glue used in any of the photos – everything is edible.
I was lucky, because on our first shoot I happened to choose cucumber, which sticks on the body naturally with its own juice. And our model had skin that was not too dry (which I learned later can really affect how well the ingredients stick). So I thought that every ingredient would be that easy – but that was definitely not the case. Every ingredient and every body are different. So before each shoot I test the skin of the model with our planned ingredient to see if there is any allergic reaction with the food. Then I have to figure out how to make it stay on, and to stay fresh long enough for Matt to take the photos. Depending on the skin, I create formulas made of one or more of olive oil, chocolate, sugar, egg white, balsamic vinegar reduction, dark chocolate, white chocolate, honey etc. When the pose and ingredient allows it though, I just use gravity to keep the ingredients in place.
How did you come up with this idea?
Well I really do not have a straight answer. The first time I placed food on a body was when I was 29, when during some spontaneous foreplay, I decorated a wonderful woman’s lower back with mango slices before eating them. The next time was at a sensual exotic party at my where the rule was you could not feed yourself – only other people (and preferably not using your hands). Then I started to volunteer for a theater company, making dessert for the audience by serving it in a sensual way – necklaces made of berries, or feeding chocolate mousse in an oyster shell with a silver marzipan pearl. Shortly after that I decided to cover an entire body with pastry and flowers. Then Matt Freedman invited me to make some of my food and body creations in a photography studio. I cut cucumbers into thousands of paper thin slices to create a full body of green scales, and the result was so magical that it gave me the inspiration create this book.
How do you find the models?
Believe or not, finding the models has been the easiest part of this project.
At the beginning we just asked friends, but once we started showing people the photographs, people started coming to us asking to be photographed. Honestly, we have had far more people offer to model then we could possibly shoot.
What does La Figa mean in Italian?
The name is a little bit controversial. In Italian, la fica refers to a fruit: the fig. La figa refers to a beautiful, sexy woman. So che bella figa means “what a lovely woman!” However, la figa is also slang for a woman''s vagina. But I have never believed (as some Italians do) that this is a derogatory term – or that it would be a problem for my new book’s (or my catering business''s) name.
In my opinion, bella figa is the highest compliment a man can give a woman. A lot of Italian men feel this way too. Many women are proud to hear the words bella figa, because a man usually speaks them only when he finds a woman truly attractive. While not everyone agrees, the female genitalia connotation of la figa is a positive thing. Vaginas are part of the birth process; they provide amazing sexual pleasure; and many people find them pretty and fascinating. They deserve a good name. La figa is not derogatory toward women – it celebrates them.
How long have you and Matt have been working on this project?
When we started shooting for this book in 2006, I told Matt it would be easy, and we would be able to do the entire thing in 6 month. He gave me a look that said “yeah right.” As it turned out, it took us five years – and the end result is far better because of it.
If you had known how long this book would take, and all the challenges you would face in publishing it, would you do it again?
Most definitely yes. But I am sure glad that I didn’t know when I started!
Who is your creative team?
What kind of people did you look for as models?
When I first came up with the idea to put food on people, it was all about art, and contrasting the color of the food with the body. At that time, we used female models who were slender and young – women who are typically more comfortable showing their bodies, and so more agreeable to modeling for us.
It wasn’t long before I began to search for people whose bodies were not “perfect.” The La Figa concept, I realized, is the idea that we can find beauty in everything and everyone around us. I wanted our pictures to accurately convey my message.
As we worked on the book over the next five years, we sharpened our skills at communicating this idea. The result is that the photos in this book now represent a wide range of people – men and women, young and old, skinny and voluptuous, heterosexual and homosexual. More colors. More shapes. More fun.
Can I get my own La Figa photo shoot?
We would be more than happy to work with you to create your own custom La Figa photo shoot. Whether it is a commercial project, or a personalized portrait of you (or you and a special someone), we would love to talk to you about it – just send us an email.
Can I bring live La Figa art to my event?
Absolutely! As you can see
(or even more
), we do many live events. If you would like to find out more about creating an evening of live art of food and the body at your own event (along with a selection of Tiberio's award winning sensual desserts) please contact us.