SIK/TENG Episode 2: Nevermind by Nirvana
Nirvana ‘Nevermind’ (1991) x Dutch Golden Age
For our second story, we selected Nirvana’s 1991 album Nevermind. We paired the album with a dark and moody visual style inspired by Dutch Golden Age still life paintings of the 17th century.
Though the cultures of 1991 American Pacific Northwest and 17th century Netherlands may seem disparate, the two shared similar existential angst amongst the middle class about the emptiness of material pursuits and earthly ambitions.
Dutch Golden Age still life was known for its expressions of memento mori and vanitas - storytelling themes that alluded to the brevity of life. Potent vanitas motifs like the skull, overturned empty glass, smoking candle, and musical instruments served as a reminder of the transient nature of the material world, the futility of earthly pleasure, and the inevitability of death.
In 1991 in the American Pacific Northwest, Nevermind disrupted the music industry by popularising alternative rock on a mass scale for the first time (MSNBC.com). The album also brought grunge culture mainstream, making it the megaphone for a new generation who were critical of pop culture ideology and consumerist behaviour.
With this inspiration as our backdrop, the menu was designed to bring 90s gluttony to life through 3 courses of 1990s American steakhouse classics. The dishes were then shot against a Dutch Golden Age inspired art direction told in 3 scenes; Illusion of Power, Fear of Not Enough and Temporality of Beauty. Each scene incorporates visual nods to the Dutch Masters’ style, using props that contrast the ephemerality of life (skulls, shells, decaying meats) with the vibrancy of life (bright flowers and rich-coloured fruits, crustaceans).
Story 1: Illusion of Power
Shrimp cocktail and moules gratinée
For the first scene, we constructed a traditionally styled Dutch Masters’ vignette that played on themes of masculinity and power.
Story 2: Fear of Not Enough
The second course featured the Goose L’orange, a twist on the 90s American steakhouse classic, Duck L’orange. In this scene focused on ideas of gluttony and overconsumption, the goose hangs at the centre, a nod to the style in which cooked goose is commonly hung in Hong Kong shopfronts.
Story 3: Temporality of Beauty
To bring the notion of the ‘temporality of beauty,’ we served the Baked Alaska in a 90s inspired take on the Dutch Golden Age painting style. The flambéed dessert was served alongside objects of decay juxtaposed with objects signifying life and vibrancy.
Food / Mike Jack and Paul Lam
Creative Direction / Jocelyn Liipfert Lam of LIIPSTIIK
Photography / Jon Lau
Film / Ricky Nyhoff
Floral and Prop Styling / Merryl Lau
Select Florals / SPRIG Florals
Set Art Direction and Planning / Sarah Chiang of LIIPSTIIK
On-Set Production / Jacqui Matthews, Nina Nyhoff
Social Media Design / Yee Ting Lau of LIIPSTIIK
Art Consultant / Yvonne Wang