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Art Supermarket and Perpetuity in Icing

Bobby Baker exhibition, performance and installation

ICA, London

For this commission, Bobby Baker installed a 10-metre L-shaped length of shelving across the ICA’s entrance corridor, stocked with around 3,000 artworks made by the artist from packaging materials and sugar. Visitors were invited to fill baskets with artworks, which were priced individually at 10p, and to purchase them at the cash register. However, the slogan ‘The More You Buy the More You Pay’ warned customers of the supermarket that an alternative economic system was in operation: the more you purchased, the more you destroyed the artwork and, exponentially, the more it cost you. 

Alongside the exhibition, Baker performed Perpetuity in Icing in which a large circular cloth was soaked in cups of coloured icing sugar to represent various stages of the artist’s life. Heavy with sugar, Baker climbed under it and cut a hole for her head, motivated by the Sufi proverb that ‘In order to understand something you must stand under it’. An attempt to walk out of the room was rendered impossible due to the weight of the cloth.

The exhibition was accompanied by a selection of black and white photos by photographer Andrew Whittuck of Baker’s works An Edible Family in a Mobile Home (1976) and Mastering the Art of Piping (1977).

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