A Recipe for Disaster
January 29 – March 7, 2021
(Schaufenster am Hofgarten & online)
The year 1972 saw the first use of open captions—text burned into the image—for deaf and hard of hearing audiences on U.S. television, doing so with the cooking show The French Chef starring Julia Child. Carolyn Lazard’s video A Recipe for Disaster, on view as part of the series Schaufenster, draws on footage from the popular TV broadcast and constitutes a critical study of the accessibility and barriers imposed by mass media.
The usually supplementary form of the caption dominates the field of view in Lazard’s work and is accompanied by their own voice as audio captioning, providing verbal descriptions of the original episode for blind and low-vision audiences. The artist has further augmented the source material by adding a manifesto-like text, scrolling across the screen in yellow all-caps lettering, that is simultaneously read by a second voice. Through this layering of text, sound, and image, Lazard emphasizes the importance of (media) accessibility, which shouldn’t be simply a supplement, but a fundamental principle of our social structure.
Video still: Carolyn Lazard, A Recipe for Disaster, 2018. Courtesy the artist and ESSEX STREET, New York.
[Julia Child holds a pan over a stove in a rustic pink and beige kitchen. She is a white woman with short curly brown hair. She wears an orange button down shirt with a black apron. On the counter is a bowl of eggs and a glass container of whisked eggs. Behind her is a wall of kitchen utensils. Behind her is also a doorway leading into a courtyard with plants. On top of this image, aligned to the center of the frame is a block of yellow, san serif text. It reads, “WHAT YOU HEAR, IS WHAT YOU GET./AND WHAT YOU GET, IS WHAT YOU HEAR./A REDUNDANCY FOR SOME./A CLARITY FOR OTHERS./A MEDIA OF MEDIAS./A NEW MATERIALISM./A WAY OF MAKING AND CONSUMING/THAT REFUSES TRANSLATION./THAT WE CANNOT IMAGINE,/BECAUSE WE HAVE NOT CREATED/THE CONDITIONS FOR ITS PRODUCTION./THE POSSIBILITY OF AN INTEGRATED AUDIENCE./LISTEN, I’M TRYING TO STAY SOMETHING./LOOK, I'M TRYING TO DO SOMETHING./WE ARE MAKING AN OMELET.” Layered on top of this text is a white subtitle at the bottom of the frame that reads, “Another way, which is a good way, is what I call a scrambled omelet.”]