Artistic Reflections on Food and a Cheesecake Recipe

Everyday food can open up questions of memory, that nostalgia that makes us crave for something we've longed for, and its discourse and practice has changed a lot in the past years. Our relationship with food has changed, for some through the exploration of old recipes, for others through new eating practices, more organic or vegan and raw. For me is somewhere in between, interchanging my grand-ma's old-fashioned recipes of flavorful family-style meals with modern versions influenced by my travels, seasonal produce and my favorite cuisines.

A few months ago I created this cheesecake, as a family-inspired dessert, that's so perfect for celebrating. Each holiday, birthday or guest visit comes with good treats, and this recipe is pretty low on sugar and butter and gets topped with a good mixture of eggs and cream cheese. So, it's sort of a compromise on the classic cheesecake, but fully loaded with good flavors. The vanilla wafer crunch makes for such a great texture and the soft cheese filling just works beautifully. Just top it with your favorite fresh fruits and you're ready to dig in!

Cheesecake with Strawberries Gabriela Iancu Detail Cheesecake with Strawberries Gabriela Iancu
Cheesecake with Strawberries Gabriela Iancu Overhead

Peaceful Contemplation at Tismana Monastery

March and April were fully loaded with commercial food photography projects and May has almost passed by in a swing of trips, meetings and artistic collaborations. On top of the list was my solo photography exhibition "Outside the Museum" held in Romania this spring. The exhibition had on display twelve large scale photographs custom printed in advertising banner style, pieces that were showcased in downtown of Târgu-Jiu city, in Romania. The exhibition aimed to bring closer people and photography, and inspire contemplation and conversation. Framed around the Romanian identity, the exhibition encouraged the Romanian audience to experience photography through the accessibility, openness and attractiveness of the public space. This project has been possible by the collaboration with the Alexandru Ștefulescu Museum.

While being in Romania I let myself be inspired by the peaceful and spiritual surroundings of Tismana Monastery. It's hard not to be impressed by the breathtaking view of the mountain and the forest where this holy monastery has been built. The monastery is the oldest in Wallachia (one of the three medieval Romanian states), and was built on a rocky top of Stârmina Mountain.

The translation of its Dacian ancient name "Tismana" means fortress, and it is here at the base and then up, from where I started to capture with living stills the beauty of its medieval walls, on-site rocks and monastery' steeple. Spot the shadows, the wind and birds, and immerse yourself in this pristine atmosphere. The breeze was carrying the flowers' perfume on my way up the hill, and the quiet walk was accompanied by the echo of the nuns chanting in the monastery. Once you're reaching the top, you'll discover the monastery's clean architecture made in the Byzantine style of the 14th century.

Tismana Monstery has continued to amaze me at each turn, from its medieval walls, to the surroundings and the peaceful living of the nuns, all-in-all telling yet again its story. I love discovering and contemplating places like this one, where history and nature come together in a celebration of good principles and respect for life. This photographic documentation gave me the opportunity to capture the beauty of simple life, something we see less and less today. Let's love and be joyful more often!

Tismana Monastery Living StillTismana-Rock-Shadow-Living StillTismana-Monastery-and-Birds-Living StillTismana Monastery Gabriela Iancu 1Tismana Monastery Gabriela Iancu 2Tismana Monastery Gabriela Iancu 3Tismana Monastery Gabriela Iancu 4Tismana Monastery Gabriela Iancu 6Tismana Monastery Gabriela Iancu 7Tismana Monastery Gabriela Iancu 8Tismana Monastery Gabriela Iancu 9

Cultivating Creativity and the Art of Seeing

“All art begins [as] a calling forth of life in its still concealed mysteriousness.” - Lou Andreas-Salomé

We live in a world where we can be anything we want, and most of us take it seriously. Today we are photographers because we take cool snaps on Instagram, tomorrow we'll be great illustrators because we can romanticize about how cool is to be an old-school artist. But we don't really understand what all of it really entails. We change so often who we really are, just because there seems to be no limits anymore to what everything is around us. We tend to not really care fondly about all these things we can be, just because we can be it all. We change so much but we don't even bother to use our intellect to really make a difference. If everyone can be it all, we must be it all.

The popular belief says that because now we can be anything and everything, we slowly construct a new social model, in which we are not told anymore what we can be, rather, we choose to be it all. It seems obsolete to perfect a craft, a passion, a talent nowadays, now we superficially do everything. This kind of attitude is wrong for obvious reasons; just because we can do something it doesn't entitle us to mock the creative experience of the true artists.

Freeing up the creative experiences of their formalism is a good thing, but rather than being everything, we can be one thing. By dedicating our energy to really be the person we claim to be, that artist we've always dreamed to be, is a great thing, but just stick to it. If one wants to be a jewelry maker, he/she should become one by putting a part of him/herself in whatever he/she creates. One cannot be something before really being that thing. You can mock and pretend, but the true creative experience will always be that of a strong experience where you expand that inner creative gut out of yourself into a beautiful creation.

So now and then, I see this entirely ad-hoc made artist coming out, in other words, the simulacrum of the true artist. And what a simulacrum does is to simulate being creative by nature. But the only true trait of a simulacra is imitating reality. The anatomy of a simulacrum artist is to reflect the true nature of reality into an appearance of order (we can really be it all), then distorts the reality and pretends to be a faithful copy, and finally all it does is to only simulate being that thing.

On top of this democratic issue, there seems to be also a lack of investment of some of the creative industries in the industry itself. A significant number of these companies (trade and consumer magazines, publishing houses, etc) have less and less work ethic when it comes to valuing the creative efforts of an artist. It is too stereotypical for today's times to not understand that the creative effort needs to be recognized and not expected for free. Nine times out of ten, this infatuation of these companies is a conscious act to disregard creativity. They are not ready to invest to propel creativity further through involving real artists to create innovative content rather than just using the same old and boring impersonal content.

It is outrageous when I hear that magazines cannot afford the work of an artist just because they don't have budget, willingly admitting that they would rather buy content from a stock bank than investing in a custom and innovative creative approach of an artist. Creativity and innovation should be the paramount of their business, of the industry in which they act. Is this attitude surprising for some of us? We're all loosing not only our right to building a local, regional and universal heritage of culture, but also our integrity, respect and sense of being strict with the world in which we live. No one should have this ruthless privilege of turning the world upside down, just because they are in a power position. We all, as a humanity, should do well, good and perfect our inner selves with honor, respect and integrity.

If one looks at photography for instance, one can see that the aesthetic consumerism of the visual culture has been administered to us little by little, and once has made its addiction, the commerce is treating its creatives like ready-made soup cans that once consumed empty themselves even of that little value they originally been assigned to have. All of these issues bother me a great deal, because despite evolution, in some fields we seem to still be far behind the integrity that the contemporary times should have. Isn't the creatives that helped us understand, see and enjoy the experience of the world through writings, paintings, photographs and other creative acts?

Despite this extent of austerity of the contemporary age, to me the creative act still resonates with revealing experiences and expressions of the world around us with innovative and unexpected approaches to audiences that should be given the right to have first a visual and artistic literacy. If for a magazine is not important to support and contribute to the evolution of the creative field, even though they act in a creative industry, it is only because of its incapacity to understand the creative act. And what this is ultimately revealing, is that, to some extent, the creative industry itself is illiterate in its field. Old habits might die hard, but being educated could teach us what it takes to be humane again, altering the bad and enlarging the extent of ethics. It is precisely through this paradoxical mechanism of the contemporary, that we all should exert our true creative acts and ethics upon the world and change the perception of our experience.

If you read this far, it is only appropriate to entice your curiosity even further with the expression of the moving image and the opportunity to get to know the artist behind the writings and creative acts here. I allow my short films to emerge ideas that can induce an illusion of a sense of place and time. Time relentlessly melts, and the emotion that it conveys can encompass the viewer precisely because of its existence, that of memory—either as an ideal or a fantasy, illusion or past reality. To turn time and art itself into a way of seeing, juxtaposes various layers of ideas equivalent with participating into an experience that has never existed nor will exist in this shape and form. It becomes almost like a good novel, where the reader identifies himself with the narrator/character's voice and transposes an illusion of himself into the story; an experience that would never go beyond the feeling of experience itself. Ultimately, it is this idea of representation of reality or imagination that strikes always for authenticity and will conceal or reveal meanings in the viewer's mind or creator's expressiveness.

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