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Scott Hove's Cakeland: a World of Scary Cakes
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Scott Hove's Cakeland: a World of Scary Cakes

An interview - and frightening picture gallery - with the Californian artist and sculptor Scott Hove about his "Cakeland" project

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They are gigantic, colorful cakes, that look inviting until you take a closer glance: in the midst of all that pastel frosting there are a double pair of gaping fangs, which convey anger and rage instead of what dessert usually means -- a joyful treat or special again. Standing in front of Scott Hove’s artwork is like staring at a beautiful, ferocious beast; you may be fascinated, but you know you can’t touch. Hove, a laid-back sculptor from Oakland, California, has recently been dedicating his energies to creating non-edible cake art.

The Cakeland project started with one of his earliest cakes, called the Kaleidocake. Looking through a window in the cake, and using tons of mirrors, he captured an endless world of frosting, cherries, and the promise of good things. Shortly after that piece he started to build a cake installation you could walk into. He then began to experiment with cake environments, building the Cake Vault, which has 12 full-size mirrors and a cake chandelier. This, for the moment, is the crowning achievement of Cakeland, a gallery/store/concept space in Oakland that one can enter and become a part of.

Hove’s aim is to give the viewers their own perfect cake experience, based on their own associations and tastes. A faux cake is, after all, merely a representation of a cake and by denying visitors the chance to taste what they see, by leaving their anticipations unsatisfied, Hove’s visitors have no choice but to use their imaginations.

«At the end of the day, the experience of seeing the beauty of your food, and the physiological response that goes along with it, can happen whether the food is real or artificial. Even when we know it is fake, we can love it for the pleasure it promises to give,» says Hove.

I find a strong connection between his sculpture and the art of baking, both of which require precision and undivided attention. «Even if the results are completely different, the process behind my art is very similar to the cooking experience,» explains Hove. But I’m still wondering about the frightening aspects of his cakes.

«Most living things that could be generally considered beautiful have means of defending themselves,» says Hove. «They need to have defensive features.» What he means is that his cakes are like any living creature -- plant or animal -- with poison, thorns or fangs for protection from possible predators. «Especially in the world of humans, beauty is something everyone wants, because we think we are entitled to it, even when we are not. If a beautiful object, place, or person can't withstand the assault of the someone else's sense of entitlement, it will cease to exist.»

«It is not easy for anyone to have a neutral experience when looking at my work,» admits Hove. «Have you ever been bitten by something you loved? Do you have past experiences of pleasure where there was cake present? Do you pursue reward for your hard work? If any of this is familiar, then you are my intended audience.»

Looking at his work, I begin to wonder if, at some point, Scott ever began to tire of all that “sweetness”, just as we feel nauseated after eating an entire bag of gummy bears. What I find out is quite funny: Hove has never been a huge fan of sweets. «A tiny amount is all that I need, really. In fact, I have an impressive collection of fake meat that I want to work into a future sculpture, but for now is the sweet stuff that’s satisfying me artistically.» Go figure. But he does love food, «though I eat very little. I enjoy the discovery of the new, and enjoy the experience of unusual traditional dishes from all parts of the world.» What would he like to eat right now? «Well, I could go for some roasted king salmon bellies with bitter greens!»

So beware, fans. Next time you will hear about Scott Hove it might be because of his new fish sculptures…and that’s the beauty of food, whether it’s real or not: there will always be a way to reinvent it.

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