Arts and Design

Food for Thought: film, music and art to help you through the cost of living crisis


A cost of living crisis plagued 16th-century Europe – food prices rose and made life harder for the urban poor, like this man portrayed in Annibale Carracci’s The Beaneater and his unadorned meal. Carracci rejects glamour and myth, abandoning the stylishness of Renaissance art, casting his eyes on humble reality. The ragged man in a tumbledown room is making the most of his workaday lunch, concentrating hard on the beans in their broth. We are in Rome and there’s also a dish of artichokes on the table, along with a small glass of wine; it might be a simple meal but it looks good enough to eat. Jonathan Jones


All white on the night … Lakeith Stanfield in Sorry to Bother You.
All white on the night … Lakeith Stanfield in Sorry to Bother You. Photograph: CINEREACH/Allstar

Set in an alarmingly plausible near future, Sorry to Bother You follows Cassius “Cash” Green (Lakeith Stanfield), a young, Black telemarketer who, struggling to pay rent, adopts a “white” voice at the urging of a wise older colleague (Danny Glover). His subsequent success sees him swept into a corporate conspiracy, selling arms and slave labour to the dismay of his activist friends (Tessa Thompson, Steven Yeun). The film weaves elements of magical realism and science-fiction to create an Afro-surrealist satire of late-stage capitalism, labour politics and meme culture that somehow feels as true to life as any gritty documentary or Ken Loach drama. Alex Mistlin


Chair man of the bored … Jeshi.
Chair man of the bored … Jeshi. Photograph: Francis Plummer

Universal Credit – from one of north London’s brightest new talents, Jeshi – could not have arrived at a more apt time. Not a concept album so much as a damning, wide-reaching indictment of the supposedly “great” British way of living, it details the truth of living hand-to-mouth, focusing on the small joys that might pull someone through. 3210 is the deceptively bouncy single, but it is the urgent pace of Generation that really hits home, weary-eyed over a never-ending cycle of austerity and despondency. Jenessa Williams


Men At Arms – Terry Pratchett
It was the best of Vimes, it was the worst of Vimes … Men at Arms.

Terry Pratchett’s Men at Arms is the book in which the famous Sam Vimes “boots theory” of socioeconomic unfairness first appears. This is the idea that a man who can afford to buy $50 boots will get a pair that lasts 10 years, while a man who can only afford cheap boots has to keep replacing them. He ends up spending twice as much in the same time – and still gets wet feet. The book has much more to say about fairness, power, poverty and basic human decency. It is correspondingly moving and profound, but also ridiculous, funny, and food for the soul. Sam Jordison


Mum’s the word … Skint.
Mum’s the word … Skint. Photograph: Tommy Ga-Ken Wan/BBC/Hopscotch Films

Earlier this year, BBC Four commissioned Skint – a series of monologues written by people with lived experiences of poverty. Watching them is a bittersweet experience: it’s great to see these narratives given the space they need on TV, but it’s also blood-boiling that these stories are the reality for millions in the UK. The standout episode tells the story of Hannah, a mum-of-one who is part of the hidden homeless. She has a job, is in a good relationship and does everything she can to find stable housing. “Zero-hours contracts means zero chance of anybody renting to you, so we were stuck in that place with the drifters and dirty, damp studios,” she tells the camera. Authentic, devastating and a call for change – it’s a reminder of what this crisis really looks like. Hollie Richardson


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