A Carp in the Tub

Louise Hagger

2017 - 2019

London, England, United Kingdom; New York, United States; Brooklyn, New York, United States; Russia

A Carp in the Tub

“If you want to take a bath, do it today; I’m bringing the carp tomorrow and it lives in the tub till Easter,” said Natalia helpfully. WAIT. Easter is three months away.

A Carp in the Tub is an artist collaboration by Food Stylist Victoria Granof, Photographer Louise Hagger and Prop Stylist JoJo Li. In words, pictures and recipes, it tells the weird and wonderful story of Granof's winter-long journey to adopt her infant son in Ukraine.

The work is presented as a set: a folded poster and a booklet. Inside the booklet are a suite of seven photographs with corresponding recipes, and a not funny-but funny essay written by Granof. The poster unfolds into an A3 size to reveal the carp in the tub.

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  • Salt-Pickled Tomatoes, Ukrainian Style:
    Occasionally Sergei would ask me to translate rap songs by 50 Cent (which he pronounced “Fitty”) and a tomato jar would explode. The freakish chihuahua barked incessantly.

  • Whole Skinny Chicken:
    “I am not going to give you Natalia’s recipe for borscht.

    If you are poor in the town of Cherkassy, your winter diet is based on bread, things grown underground, and fat in whatever form you can get it. If you are also an awful cook… it’s bleaker still. Natalia’s borscht was made with a whole skinny chicken which she didn’t bother to cut up, the usual root veg, way too much water, (it’s free) and…you know how some people keep a jar to put their old fat and oil in so it doesn’t clog the pipes? Hers was old, rancid and went into the borscht. I suspect that if given free access to abundant and high quality raw ingredients Natalia would still be an awful cook so I’m giving you my recipe instead.”

  • Borscht:
    She was poor but that was no excuse. I suspect that even if given free access to high quality ingredients, Natalia’s borscht would still be awful.

  • Kvass: Every radiator at the Khruschyovka was colonized by ends and crusts of dark bread. Once rock-hard, Natalia used them to brew kvass. We suspect she got the scraps from the orphanage – or the trash.

  • Salo:
    Once, she arrived with nothing more than a bottle of vodka and half a loaf of black bread. That time we ate the pork fat – Salo – sliced thin- ly, accompanied by raw garlic, black bread and ice-cold vodka.

  • The carp:
    “If you want to take a bath, do it today; I’m bringing the carp tomorrow and it lives in the tub till Easter,” said Natalia helpfully. WAIT. Easter
is three months away.

  • Medovik – 8 layer honeycake :
    It was then I discovered the nurses had been washing and
reusing some of the Pampers, whilst selling the bulk of them on the street — along with the honey cake.

  • A Carp in the Tub - fold out.

  • A Carp in the Tub - fold out.

  • A Carp in the Tub - booklet.

  • A Carp in the Tub - booklet.


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