Fridges Fight Back

An exhibition and publication cheekily subverting the iconic status of fridges - KKOutlet, London, November 2016

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Fridges Fight Back - KKOutlet, Hoxton Square, London, October - 1st-26th November 2016

House fires caused by tumble dryers may be attracting headlines but fridges, while exalted and celebrated as socially desirable indicators of social status, are under-recognised as cause of fires that can destroy homes and kill people every year.

The issue came under the spotlight in the exhibition, Fridges Fight Back: a Chilling Exhibition, curated by the British Museum of Food examining the darker side of food which launches at the beginning of November for a month. An accompanying booklet, Fridges Fight Back: The White Goods are Restless, by Bompas & Parr, which founded the British Museum of Food, examines the facts against the context of fridges at the centre of home life.

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The exhibition and booklet cheekily subvert the iconic status that fridges have attained in recent years, having become socially desirable, indicators of wealth and revered in modern kitchens, no longer hidden behind cupboard fascias but assuming pride of place as the most monolithic and aspirational of white goods.

They also serve as an antidote to the polished pictures of food that permeate modern culture in everything from Instagram to the contrived contents of celebrities’ fridges on programmes like MTV Cribs

The booklet and exhibition feature a number of refrigeration-inspired exhibits reflecting their affectionate status in our culture and reminding about the alarming nature of fridge fires. Artworks will include bacteria bred from the fridges of celebrities and filmed content depicting the technical evolution of fridges. The exhibition will also feature a community fridge, allowing locals to deposit food and drink that will be shared with local charities and food banks.

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Across Britain, it’s thought 855 fires were reported to have been started by fridge-freezers between 2011 and 2014, accounting for 7 per cent of fires caused by electrical products.

The London Fire Brigade collects a huge amount of statistics relating to fried-freezer fires and says fridge fires can burn as hot as 600-degrees Celcius, generating huge amounts of thick black smoke and toxic gases that burn your respiratory system. The cause of most such fires is where the increasingly complex electronics in modern fridges fail and where there is insufficient insulation to prevent an electrical arc igniting fridge insulation and/or coolant – both are highly inflammable.

“A fridge is packed with easily ignitable fuel,” says the Brigade’s Head of fire investigation Charlie Pugsley. “It’s almost like having a can of petrol in your house."

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Photography by Ann Charlott Ommedal.