Vy Giap had globs of Nutella in her hair that left tracks on her shoulders. As she spun around laughing, she then pasted a handful of the hazelnut chocolate spread on another student’s bare stomach.
“I really like the idea of Nutella as art: It’s almost like a kid playing with food,” said Giap, a first-year Design | Media Arts student.
Giap was one of the participants in “Bodies & Nutella,” the first event hosted by UCLA design club Indulge in Design. The event was held Tuesday in Broad Art Center’s Shoot Room, a studio dedicated to professional photography.
Aaron Yih, the club’s founder, host of the event and second-year cognitive science student, said “Bodies & Nutella” aimed to facilitate thoughts about overconsumption and indulgence.
Yih pitched the idea for “Bodies & Nutella” randomly over lunch as the club members chatted about photography as a medium for artistic ideas.
The idea, Yih said, popped into his head after he finished a satisfying meal. As he leaned back in his chair, he had a vision of an overweight man with Nutella slathered over his belly and hungered to take a picture of it.
“I was thinking about how ridiculous it is how much pleasure (we) take from something like (eating),” Yih said. “To put Nutella, which is a very rich and fattening thing, on a fat person – the thought was like, it’s over the top.”
After asking friends who would be available to take pictures of people with Nutella on their bellies, Yih and the rest of the seven-member club came up with “Bodies & Nutella,” partially to study the relationship between over indulgence and necessity, and partially to have fun.
Club members, their friends and people who had heard about the event on Facebook smeared Nutella over their own and each other’s bodies as photographers roamed around taking pictures at the event. The photos will likely be made into a gallery and posted online, said Bella Clark, a first-year Design | Media Arts student and one of the photographers for the event.
Clark said Nutella is an iconic symbol of indulgence, as the hazelnut chocolate spread is well known to be sweet, rich and expensive.
“(Nutella) is not extremely necessary for your diet or anything like that, so it’s an indulgence,” Clark said. “Having people work with that and seeing what happens is the point of the photo shoot, of the event.”
The photographers, who ducked and weaved through Nutella-smeared people, used studio lights and the Shoot Room’s white walls to experiment with lighting and composition. Clark said working in the professional studio setting gave her exposure to a more artistic, experimental side of photography she normally does not get to practice.
Allison Shay, a second-year biochemistry student and another photographer for the event, said the participants were the models for the photos, resulting in a learning experience in photography and composition for both subjects and photographers.
“The models are also artists through their poses, because we’re letting them choose certain poses as well or how they want to portray their relationship with the Nutella on their body,” Shay said.
Yih said he hopes to plan events next quarter of similar scope and theme to provide a fun yet educational experience for participants.
Ultimately, Yih said “Bodies & Nutella” provided a place to de-stress, have fun and engage in a playful activity to encourage new ways of thinking.
“It’s really a place to meet other people who are interested in art and design, and also to do something they wouldn’t usually do,” Yih said. “When you do that, it opens up your mind and see the world in a different perspective, and that’s essential for design.”