This Baker Turned Chernobyl And The Oklahoma City Bombing Into Cakes
Chernobyl nuclear power plant a few weeks after the disaster. Original photo courtesy of Getty/Laski Diffusion/Getty Images
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. She uses cake to underscore how we consume trauma.
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).”
The Chernobyl cake. Photo courtesy of Paige Heimark.
Detail from the Chernobyl cake. Photo courtesy of Paige Heimark.
Oklahoma City Bombing. Original photo by Bob Daemmrich/AFP/Getty Images
The Oklahoma City Bombing cake. Photo courtesy of Paige Heimark.
Detail from the Oklahoma City Bombing cake. Photo courtesy of Paige Heimark.
Paige Heimark, the cake disaster artist. Photo courtesy of Paige Heimark.