Having a Cake for a Perfect Marriage Wedding Recipe
Anyone familiar with Shufang’s work will know she loves to deal with notions of food and it’s production in her art making. Instead of decking the given niche with real food, she has gone to another layer and conceptualism, linking food and art, possibly a strategy of making contemporary art more palatable.
This particular installation replaces a site-specific wall drawing by Tang Ling Nah. A symbol of matrimony, a physically multi-layered symbolic cake decoration lie at the heart of the installation. The staircase was adorned with large prints of instructions, or recipes for a happy marriage. On closer inspection, you will find cake decoration toppings (see picture above), with Caucasian features neatly arranged, each pair facing outwards. It almost seems to represent that this is the most important part of any wedding cake, the symbol of a happy marriage, but multiplied profusely here, in a true ‘uniquely’ Singaporean ‘kiasu’ manner. If each decoration piece was a blessing, the message of wishing for a blissful marriage becomes clear, if not excessive. There is something sinister about this, because most wedding dinner’s I had attended, except for a classmate Angela Oon’s, the layers of cake are fake, and the entire cake-cutting gesture purely symbolic. The cake isn’t really a cake, but moulded plastic masquerading as glorious, rich cream. Perhaps the kitsch here suggests the opulence of wedding dinners’ symbolic gestures gone awry, meanings diluted. Audiences who are single will have to agree with me, each wedding dinner they attend with relatives, is a reminder of their single-hood bombarded with the question, when are they getting hitched. This installation thus represented two perspectives: for those getting married or are married, it is a promise that should be made, maintained repetitively; for those unmarried, each wedding dinner is possibly as repetitive and dreary as all others, meaning lost in purgatory eating.
What didn’t work for me in the installation is the awful flush of pink light. The font chosen for the recipes were too difficult to read, especially if the text was integral to the work. This perhaps shows you can’t have your cake and eat it too, sacrificing another layered of understanding of the work, for pink abundance kitsch.
2 .0 of 5 stars
Till (possibly) March 2007
Singapore Art Museum