Is this Murrah Bombing cake tasteless?

Do you remember April 19, 1995? If you’ve lived around here since then, you’ve got deeply embedded memories, nightmares you can’t shake. We all know someone who was affected, whether they died, or they should have been there and almost died, or they stayed and helped pull screaming bodies out of the aftermath: shattered glass, blackened steel from parked automobiles spilling out like a ribcage escaping from the flesh of a man who swallowed a grenade, flames and cinderblocks and cops and national newspeople and all the chaos that comes along with the deadliest act of domestic terrorism to hit American soil.

The memorial downtown still gets me every single time. Walking inside and seeing the quiet and shallow pool of water glistening black even in the mid-day sun, the silence and solemness overcomes me and after a few minutes I’ll cry because I remember being a little kid when it all happened and other little kids died simply by being in the same place that a far-right terrorist decided was a good place to leave a fertilizer bomb inside of a Ryder truck.

Have you ever walked by that fence where kids leave Pokemon charm bracelets or whatever they have in their pockets because their sponsor is telling them to put a tribute on the fence, even though they’re too young to understand death or the fear of death, and all they can do is hang up the yellow ribbon from the aggie competition they won because they had a sheep in the mix because they were bused into town from Enid to show off livestock? Or have you seen whatever other weird ephemera that appears and disappears at that sad chainlink place at the west side of the memorial, like lanyards from Cincinatti insurance folks who dropped in for a conference and felt like what they needed to do was leave their hotel keycard as an offering to this monument of terror and sadness?

It’s a major bummer that everyday kids see this and have to somehow wrap their minds around the fact that in the years ago that have gone on and passed, other kids that were about their age blew up and died in an explosion because some shithead white guy read ‘The Turner Diaries’ once and figured that was a good pathway.

Now that we’re nearly 25 years removed from the event, a baker in Brooklyn thinks thought that it would cute to make a cake in the shape of the Murrah Building blowed-up. Vice decided she’s worth profiling because they need clicks as badly as we do.

Here’s the Instagram post of her Murrah Building cake:

For one, that’s not even a fucking cake. All I can see is a bunch of nasty looking frosting, so if someone can point out where the cake is underneath all of that, let me know. I’ll take a slice and toss it out.

But cakes are food and food is art and art needs context to send a message. Maybe we’re just getting upset over nothing. After all, I truly believe that some of the most important art is confrontational and unsettling and offensive because artists need to get under our skin to turn our attention to what is truly important. One of the most powerful and moving works of art of the 20th century is ‘Guernica’ by Pablo Picasso:

There are few paintings that speak to the agony, pain, and suffering of modern warfare like this one, abstract as it is. This is just an example, and I love a lot of art that goes much darker than ‘Guernica,’ but let’s find out what the artist thinks about what she’s presenting:

What attracts you to using cake as your medium?
For me, cake is both a fun and practical medium. I’ve always loved to bake because it chills me out, and I really like eating. As an artist, I love to experiment with creating new textures and finding unconventional ways to engage the audience. I moved to New York and had little money or space, but I could afford cake mix and my kitchen had a counter and oven. Practically speaking, it’s cheap, non-toxic, and compostable. It’s also low stakes! It’s just cake! You can bake a new one and eat the first draft.

Cool, you like to make and eat cake. Me too, man. It tastes good and it’s cheap, what’s your philosophy?

What led to you making your “disaster cakes”? How did you select the particular disasters you thought would be a good fit?
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).

TL;DR: “Some stuff is bad but I like to make cake and listen to true crime podcasts.”

This is the most amateur-hour junior college excuse for art. Her cakes are very well made, and I won’t deny the craftsmanship. But to obsess over tragedy for the sake of tragedy because it’s an easy way to shock is lazy and doesn’t make you an artist. The baker lives in New York but hasn’t posted a 9/11 cake, and I’d love to see how that goes over in Brooklyn.

Honestly, I’m curious how it would be received if she showed up to the bombing memorial museum with her frosting replica of this awful mass-murder by a white terrorist. How do y’all feel about this?

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44 Responses

  1. They had a giant mural of Guernica on a wall at CHHS and I always stopped to look at it.. very moving

  2. It’s too early to be this viscerally angry.

  3. Some people considered a crucifix in a jar of urine to be “art” so IDK

  4. There are still people out there that claim Bill & Hillary did this to divert attention from Lewinsky, which I find far more offensive.

    1. also far more confusing, as the allegations around Lewinsky didn’t come out until fall of 1997, so why would they do something a full year and a half before to divert attention from it…

      1. The Fake News Media, enemies of the people, WANT us to be confused by the timeline.

        A problem with the sequence of events doesn’t mean that the Clintons weren’t behind it all. Don’t you see? It’s part of the conspiracy!

        1. Are there nuts in that cake?

        2. More disgusting than the bombing itself is the City of Edmond hiring the mad arsonist of Waco, Bob Ricks, as police chief. He and Janet Reno were every bit as responsible for the Murrah bombing as Tim McVey. May they all three writhe in eternal fire.

          1. To say that Bob Ricks and Janet Reno are just as guilty as Timothy McVeigh is a level of stupid that is truly rare.

            I mean, why stop there? Bill Clinton is also just as guilty as Timothy McVeigh. So is anyone who voted for Clinton. And so are all the people who didn’t vote for Clinton because they didn’t do enough to stop him from getting re-elected. And, on top of that, it’s the fault of Thomas Jefferson because he helped create a system where people like Janet Reno and Bob Ricks could reach a position of power.

            Conclusion: we need to erase Thomas Jefferson’s face from Mt. Rushmore because he helped blow up the Murrah building.

            1. I get the feeling Marc trips so often over his own hyperbolic utterances that he has fallen and suffered a little brain insult.
              Me, I blame the Kardashians. Some of them may not have even been born at that time, but fuck’em, I hate the vapid little idjits, and if there is any eternal fire-writhing to be done, why not include them? After all, the culture of celebrity is what this “artist” is really all about, and they’re the uber-model for that.

    2. That’s pure idiocy. The bombing happened in 1995 and the Lewinsky thing was 1998/1999.

      The better theory (if you want to dabble into OKC bombing conspiracies) is that all the FBI investigatory files for the Waco debacle (1993) and the 1980s cocaine smuggling through Mena, Arkansas under Bill’s time as governor were in that building.

      Again, if you’re into that sort of thinking.

    3. The conspiracy is about some case called White Water. I’m not completely sure what it is about.

  5. My first reaction, of course: Hell yes, it’s tasteless.

    My second thought: Cake frosting from a store is NOT tasteless, unfortunately. It tastes NASTY. What’s it made of? Sugar and lard? Yuck!

    After reading the artist’s comments,I think I’m likely to find her entire body of work to be tasteless and offensive. Making man-made disasters that represent human death and suffering into…. cake? That we’re supposed to EAT and ENJOY?

    But let’s not organize the lynch mob just yet. I’m pretty much a First Amendment absolutist. A lot of art (or what passes for it) provokes a visceral reaction, whether a good one or a bad one, and whether or not that is what the artist intended. The reaction is seldom the same for everyone, and is of course rooted in the senses of the beholder.

    For example, I find many “artistic” representations of the Crucifixion to be tasteless and offensive. The huge, ghastly crucifix that hangs behind the altar of the church of my childhood, for example. The movie “The Passion of the Christ” seemed as awful to me as the “Saw” series or any other blood-and-gore exploitation film. But for many more people besides me, those things are inspirational and reverent.

    So let’s not be too quick to judge. Chacun a son gout.

    1. Yes. There are nuts in that cake.

  6. Amazing what passes for art these days. I’m all for the artist doing a 9/11 Twin Towers cake, hell I’ll even commission it just to watch the local populous in Brooklyn to destroy the artist. Tasteless hack art, that is all, nothing to see here, move along.

    1. If she really wants to make a disaster art cake she should start with a cake of that nose she has. It could be like a factory obscura walk through piece at just a 1:1 scale.

  7. Interesting. Not a fan at all. You’re right though, clickbait which equals dollars for her and for Vice.

    Clutching my pearls as I read, nausea came over me because of the memories of that time. I lived here, felt the blast from Edmond and took several calls from worried family members from across the country. It was a time that so many of us can see, hear, smell, taste and touch at the slightest of triggers. Our state is still surviving the initial blast.

    What strikes me though is how easily we as a snarky group of hipster doofuses can make snide comments about other tragedies we haven’t heard experienced so closely, then act as if we’re more evolved because we’ve already moved on from their loss.

    I’m no kumbaya-singing tree hugger, and I’m not advocating us to stop our fun and sometimes evil ways. The way this affects me is understanding that I can put my offended feelings aside and realize that they don’t get it. All my gasping and reactive anger at this silly girl’s edible art only encourages her and Vice readers to step it up a notch.

    Full disclosure: I did not lose any direct friends in the bombing. I was not a first, second, or even third responder on the scene. I’m not able to understand what those situations were like and certainly don’t think I’m qualified to speak on their behalf.

    For me, I’m choosing to not be offended or outraged. No matter how much KFOR will tell me I should be.

    1. +1

    2. True confessions:
      I have sung kumbaya.
      I have hugged trees.
      One night I danced several dances with one of the people who died in the bombing. Man, was she sexy,….
      I cannot spend all my time feeling outraged or annoyed at the things I encounter in my day-to-day, because I have to leave a least a little room for sitting around and regretting various parts of my past.

    3. Yes to all of this. I was young when the bombing happened, and in Illinois. I remember the stories of the children who were carried out, the ones who made it, the ones who didn’t. That stuck with me for years. Then I moved here. I know someone who lost his mother in the bombing, who was a child whose life was suddenly changed because of a terrorist act.

      I also have seen so much love and support of a city who understands that healing is a process and has done a lot to make sure we have ways to do that.

      I would imagine the artist has never been here, or been around much collective tragedy, so it seems like an easy way to get attention. Shame on her and shame on vice for trying to get clicks on it.

      Like you said, though, we have too much other stuff to be outraged about that it doesn’t seem worth it to give her the time of day.

    4. I was nauseous too.

  8. To this day I can’t bring myself to actually walk through the Memorial Museum. I’m fine with walking around the grounds outside and through the memorial, but I have no desire to relive or have anything reawaken memories in me by going through the Memorial Museum.

    That being said, people these days are going to do whatever they want to do regardless to how it affects others or their sensitivities. From a cake-art standpoint, it is an impressive recreation no matter what the creator’s intent was. Should they have made it? A wiser person would say no, but a fool would ask why not?

  9. That’s not a cake.

    It’s a version of those shoebox dioramas that we used to make in middle school social studies or history classes; only made using a bigger box.

  10. My body is so tired from being outraged by everything, that I just don’t have the energy to care. The best punishment for the “artist” would just be for us all to ignore the cake and move on. It’s mean to be provocative – the best punishment is to remain unprovoked.

    1. +1

  11. It’s in bad taste, I don’t like it but it’s not going to cause our society to fall. The question to me is tho, where do you draw the line? Auschwitz? Hiroshima? The outrage would be instantaneous and withering.

  12. Tasteless af

  13. My Daddy served in the Army, where he lost his right eye…so I absolutely accept her right to make the cake… unless she puts two dudes in tuxes holding hands on top.

    1. Sadly, I think that Marc is serious about objecting to two dudes in tuxes on top. Not kidding at all.

      Tell me if I’m wrong.

      1. You are not wrong…at least in this instance.

        1. Yeah, I’m not a fan of tuxes either. How about in Hawaiian shirts?

  14. Art is meant to provoke–to get you talking, and art is also subjective.

    I know one person who is a survivor of the bombing — which happened about a year before I moved to this area full-time. All that said, the artist is entitled to her creation and her (admittedly odd) choice of medium (cake). I don’t think this is a cake that will be meant to be “eaten and enjoyed.” Over time it will become inedible.

    Sometimes I’ve seen inedible cake tied to some event listed on eBay (no, really. One such listing upset the family and friends of a deceased well-known musician a little over a year ago). In which case, be upset if this turns up on eBay.

  15. Guess she decided to desert good taste for taste good dessert.

  16. The comment qouted below from the creator does make the most sense to me as to the reason for using this medium. Not many of us are able to turn away from the endless loop of media depictions of tragedy, devouring coverage, until we’re beyond satiated but sick at the sight:
    “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.”

    1. Good point: We devour bad news, we can’t look away from the grisly train wreck. Also cake is bad for you but we eat it anyway.

  17. An edgelord with an offset spatula. The kind of person who would take selfies at concentration camp museums and call it artful photography.

  18. After reading the article it seems like this is more of a commentary on the media than on the event itself.

  19. Her “art” is so good that she couldn’t handle the feedback and made her Instagram private. 🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣

  20. Wait, do you mean tasteless in concept, or tasteless in actual taste?

  21. I give art wide latitude. Because it doesn’t speak to me doesn’t mean it doesn’t speak to someone else. As someone who had friends in the building at the time of the bombing, a wife who lost a family member there and both of us have siblings who were first responders I think I’ll pass on this artistic vision.

  22. A baker here needs to make one of ground zero. Watch the Yankees go CRAZY!!!!!!

  23. I’m appalled by this! My dad was murdered on April 19th 1995, for no other reason than he went to work to provide for his family. He wasn’t political at all. Everyone making jokes about this should be ashamed! Ive lived with this every day for 24+ years. There is no excuse for this! Is this where we are as a society that we don’t care about those around us anymore who lost loved ones?

  24. No. Nope. No. Hell no!
    The real bombing was too much. Memorializing it in cake is tacky. Rude. Horrid.
    Too many of us lost a friend or loved one.
    Just no.

  25. A representation of an atrocity is not offensive. Atrocities are offensive.

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