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Disaster Artist Uses Cake To Underscore How We Consume Trauma

Cakes are often associated with celebrations with our loved ones, like in birthday parties, weddings, and others. But Brooklyn-based disaster-artist baker, Paige Heimark, turned disasters like Chernobyl and the Oklahoma Bombing into cakes.

This is what led Heimark to making “disaster cakes”:

Stories of man-made destruction are as ubiquitous as birthday cake. I choose these disasters because they are stand-alone moments of destruction that encapsulate our deepest cultural anxieties. Using cake, I make the proverbial car crash you can’t look away from, the bad news you can’t help but devour. I take familiar indulgences and distort them into repulsive forms; the viewer confronts simultaneous desire and disgust. The viewer is complicit in eating up the horror stories we're told by the media and the government.
I choose the disasters intentionally. Personally, they are the real-life horror stories I grew up on. But on a larger cultural scale, although they come from completely different historical contexts, they’re both dreams turned into nightmares: For Chernobyl, the collective dream of harnessing nuclear power to transform the Ukrainian SSR; for the Oklahoma City Bombing, Timothy McVeigh perverted his belief of “freedom of expression” into freedom to kill in order to make a point. Both of these disasters led to horrific, long-lasting trauma for an entire nation (the largest nuclear meltdown in history, the most deadly attack on American soil at the time).

Image: Paige Heimark


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