Moment x Vuhlandes Grant Recipient

Vivian Han-Tat

The title “Say It With Fruits” is a play on the slogan “Say It With Flowers” which was adopted in the early 1900s, a time when the language of flowers gained popularity becoming a means of complex coded communication. Using particular blooms for ‘I love you’ or floral scents for an unreciprocated refusal, Victorians were able to send messages to each other when strictures at the time made it impossible to do so openly.

While each flower is symbolic in its specific message, fruits, and the way they’re served in Asian homes is just as, if not more meaningful. Cleaned, skinned, meticulously cubed, and arranged like jewels on a platter, the love language of Asian homes is cut fruit.

This project started during the spring of 2020, when I came across “Love In The Shape Of Cut Fruit” by Connie Wang and Yi Jun Loh’s “A Bowl of Cut Fruits Is How Asian Moms Say: I Love You.” Each writing of the tropes and traditions of cut fruit that I very much relate to and missed while separated from family: from study break snacks to after-dinner treats, the silent I-love-yous or a delicious bite-sized-stabbed-with-a-tooth-pick truce. My mom served orange wedges for dessert, peeled and cubed dragon fruit, scooped out the seeded core of guavas, skinned and sliced apples and pears. And while I’m not as eloquent with words (and recommend you read the two pieces above), I knew I had to capture the labour of love that is cutting fruit every night over the sink.

The photographs were taken over the month of December in the house I grew up in, with the help of my mom (pictured) cutting each fruit as she would on any other day, and my dad doing the calligraphy. All the props, paintings, ornaments belong to our family, and the iconography in chinese newspapers, cookbooks and magazines found in our basement inspired many of the graphics.

Are you on the list? You don’t want to miss our weekly email with fresh, inspiring content.