TEN THOUSAND CUPCAKES an installation by Leah Foster
CON Artist Gallery at 116 Ludlow Street
Review by Alexa Strautmanis
The title of this show is literal, and in actuality is an installation of ten thousand cupcakes. The chosen site for this piece is an unassuming basement in the lower east side, which you access through those doors in the sidewalk we are all afraid of falling into when left open.
The aroma of baked goods wafts up and hits you harder than the ‘CAUTION! LOW HEAD CLEARENCE!’ sign on the way down the nearly vertical, accident-waiting-to-happen staircase. Once descended, you enter the front room, which acts as a retail space, full of items totally unrelated to anything muffin. Just clothing, jewelry, assorted accessories, a kind of haberdashery if you will, full of ties and pretty little things to adorn to clothing, including a quite fetching turquoise scorpion broach.
Through the doorway you can already see the treats inside, cupcakes upon cupcakes upon cupcakes, creating a colorful crumbly wall, cemented with frosting. Each vertical column is suspended from the ceiling by what seems to be a high test fishing line of some sort, but the weight of the cakes have stretched out the string, leaving a few of the bottom ones slack on the floor. Cupcakes form floor to ceiling walls, creating a hallway leading to an inner room, completely enclose the viewer in a cake cubical.
At first glace, no two cupcakes are exactly the same, completely individualized with different frostings, sprinkles, and baking liners. It brings to mind snowflakes, in their uniqueness, and Christmas time altogether, threading popcorn after popcorn for decoration, and how you always end up eating at least a few along the way.
For such an overpowering, larger than life scene, there is an undeniable innocence in these confections as a whole. It takes a girl back to the days of EZ bake ovens, and making necklaces and bracelets of colorful plastics, selecting each bead with conviction to form a beautiful pattern when it hangs. Using a medium like cupcakes, which are so iconic in and of themselves, leaves the piece open to interpretation. It could very well be a simple nod to childhood, or even a more confrontational topic like the obesity epidemic present in America today. One can even look at this installation as a memento mori piece, as the cupcakes go stale, hardening and crumbing over time, losing their taste and aroma, they lose life.
Whatever the message is, if there even is a set message, this piece is a sight to behold. Few people will ever see this amount of cupcakes, unless they happen to work in a Hostess factory. This show is definitely worth a visit while its still warm on a windowsill, and will leave you perfumed in angel food.