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This guy is making art installations out of cake

Scott Hove’s ‘Cakeland’ is the huge pastel-coloured installation of your sugar-coated nightmares

Food is often used by artists to connote a sense of excess, even disgust – and what could be more sickly-sweet than an abundance of cake? As anyone who’s ever gorged on thick slabs of fondant icing, dusty with sugar, will know – too much sweetness can make it feel like a glitter bomb has gone off in your brain. And not in a good way.

San Francisco-born, L.A-based artist Scott Hove’s work explores concepts of dualism through the contrast between light and dark; beauty and violence; good and evil. His ongoing series of Cakeland installations (the most recent is currently entitled Break Bread, and is running at LA’s Think Tank gallery) address our notions of comfort and celebration in the form of carefully crafted artificial cakes. Hove juxtaposes his cakes, bedecked with fake fruit and crystals, with images of violence and destructiveness – stiletto heels, taxidermy jaws, even switchblades. 

To enter his installation is to walk into a surrealistic cake baker’s wet dream – lines upon lines of perfectly pink and mint-green hues crisscrossing the ceiling like a line of ejaculate piped neatly down the middle of a perfectly even iced bun. To find out more, we spoke to Hove down the line from L.A.

Hi Scott, thanks for talking to us. Why are you so fascinated by cake?

Scott Hove: Cakeland is like a virtual space. I keep recreating it and destroying it and rebuilding it and trying to make it better every time. For me, cake is this excellent medium for transmitting emotion and the viewer’s sense of expectation and anticipation. It’s very indulgent for a viewer to look at cake, because of all the positive associations we have around it – ideas like celebration and partying and birthdays and childhood. 

So you’re trying to entice people in?

Scott Hove: Yeah, cakes are very seductive emotionally. So you can draw people in and then include your own artistic language. Depending on how you look at it, I’m either trying to sweeten the message or trying to darken what people think cake is about. You’ve got to mix it up; you’ve got to have the dualistic elements together in order for it to resemble what real life is like.

Why are you so fascinated by these ideas of light and dark?

Scott Hove: I think it’s to do with my experiences in nature since I was a kid. I grew up by a cemetery and next to the cemetery were miles of open space, and I spent a lot of time in nature and saw firsthand the dualistic aspect of nature and became comfortable with it. At the same time I was always perplexed by people who’d reject anything that was unpleasant or related to their own shadows; things they felt uncomfortable acknowledging. I always thought that was really strange. So I like to confront people to go beyond their comfort level and embrace the shadow and the light.

The colours and a lot of the imagery you use in the installation, such as stilettos and crystals, are quite conventionally ‘feminine’. Are people surprised to find out you’re actually a man?

Scott Hove: I’ve never really had that actually. I don’t really care what people think about me being a masculine male doing feminine art; I just love doing art that has seductive qualities. For me feminine energy is beautiful and beauty’s a really important part of my work. I want people to have a really intense beauty experience when they go to my installations so I put in a lot of really feminine aspects, and the heels are a fetishized aspect of that feminine energy. They’re intimidating and beautiful at the same time and that’s very complimentary to my message.

From looking at the photos of the installation online, they can seem a bit overwhelming. Is that what you’re going for?

Scott Hove: I love creating a very comprehensive environmental experience for people, completely enveloping them with the atmosphere I’m creating. The light is vey colour-saturated; the cake extends in every direction. I want to have a really immersive art experience and just hold the viewer captive for that amount of time that they’re in there.

How do people tend to react?

Scott Hove: Like little kids, mostly. They have a very childlike reaction. There’s a lot of enthusiasm and wonder. There’s a very escapist quality to it. A lot of the people who are my biggest fans are escapists who live in a real candy world and have pink hair. Often these people have a lot of trauma in their lives and they love the safety that Cake Land represents. But my sculptures often directly allude to things that are unpleasant. I’ve done cakes on Islamic extremism. My work has escapist qualities, but also confrontational qualities too.

It’s quite trippy. Are you influenced by LSD and Lewis Carroll?

Scott Hove: I’ve always been interested by that. When I was a kid reading Alice in Wonderland how she could step through the mirrors always fascinated me. I wanted to climb through the mirror and get to the space behind it. That’s one of the reasons I always use mirrors in my work, to create that virtual space in the reflection, the endless space you can’t get to. The space behind the mirror, that exists only in your dreams.

And finally, what's your favourite kind of cake?

Scott Hove: You know I’m actually not a big fan of cake. When I was little I used to love princess cake, though, so if I had to choose it would probably be that. 

You can catch Scott's latest installation at Think Tank Gallery in L.A. until March 14.