Jumbo Spoons and Big Cake is a monumental installation that measures approximately 17 metres by 12 metres and that, at first glance, could resemble an upside-down reference centre (chained books and papers, stacked files and photographs, and so on) were it not for the incongruous presence, in the middle, of a gigantic cake and 12 spoons standing all around it.
Modelled after souvenir spoons collected by tourists, here they are emblematic of individuals or entities the artist associates with failed utopias: Mies van der Rohe, Rosa Luxemburg, Malevich, Nietzsche, Venice, China, the moon, guns, fashion, the exhibition of “degenerate” art held by the Nazis in 1937, Rolex Swiss watches and the Chicago Bulls basketball team. According to Josée Bélisle, curator in charge of the Musée Collection and the exhibition, the “big cake” Hirschhorn sets before us is a “disturbing, magnified image of excessive consumption and existential chaos.”
In this installation, the artist offers a space for reflection and commitment with respect to the issues of contemporary society, the overabundance of information, the state of the world and the urgent question of global hunger.
Jumbo Spoons and Big Cake (2000), a recent major acquisition of the Musée d’art contemporain, was shown at the Chicago Art Institute when it was first created, and then in Paris, at the Musée national d’art moderne/Centre Pompidou, in 2005 as part of the group exhibition Dionysiac.
Thomas Hirschhorn was born in Switzerland in 1957. After completing his studies in graphic design in Zurich, in the late 1970s and early 1980s, he moved to Paris and joined the Grapus collective. He did not practise as a graphic designer, however,preferring creative freedom to the ideological concessions imposed by client’s requirements. His commitment to combining art and life, artistic expression and political activism, lies behind his use of “humble” salvaged and packing materials. The result is often an impression of accumulation and chaos.