Have you ever seen something so cute you just want to smash the shit out of it? Cute aggression is a real thing, but that's not exactly what inspired Spanish “research-based” artist Mar Cuervo to embark on her latest project, which she calls “Destroyer.” In short, she collects “edible objects,” mostly attractive desserts, and films herself crushing them. “They were screaming to be destroyed,” she says of items such as cupcakes, pink-frosted custards and chocolate bunnies. “Anger is usually silenced and avoided as an ostracized and negative feeling, but it is probably the strongest feeling we have and the one that makes us change things. Destroying these gentle objects is a ceremony where I funnel my inner outrage and dissatisfaction against the elements that create them in the first place.”
The GIFs of Cuervo smashing things feel self-explanatory, but I asked her some questions anyhow.
How long have you lived in L.A.? Where have you lived and worked previously?
I've been living in L.A. for a year now. Before moving here I was in an artist residency in the Netherlands, living in a shipping container. Right before that I lived in Iceland for a few months and always had Madrid as headquarters.
Pardon if I sound like a rube, but can you explain exactly what “research-based” art is?
Haha, not at all! “Research-based artist” was the perfect definition for the work I do and who I am. Reading and getting obsessed with certain subjects makes you a researcher and some sort of expert in that specific field; I´ve always done that, and most of my work has been a result of things I read or found while doing research.
What was the first edible object that screamed out to you to be destroyed?
The first object I filmed was a yellow and pink “flan” I found in the Netherlands. I just wanted to do it so bad. It felt like a tantrum. But that feeling has been in me for my entire life. … It's in all of us! We have always heard, “Don't play with your food.” We were obedient, but I think we all wanted to play with it.
In the description of the project, you mention society's “fear of the power of anger.” Is anger's power only destructive? Or can it be constructive as well? Are you destroying to create?
Anger is the feeling that has set in motion the most beautiful changes in this society. Every single civil rights movement has come from anger. Anger changes things, creates things, is transformative. People who want to keep the status quo fear it, of course they do! People who believe in something better for this society get angry.
Also, you're funneling your “inner outrage and dissatisfaction against the elements that create them in the first place” — is it the fragility of the objects that breeds angst? Does it have anything to do with their being (mostly) desserts? Empty foods?
Their fragility makes me want to destroy them, I hate perfection and staged reality. Those desserts look so perfect that they don't awaken any desire to be eaten. They just tell me to destroy them. Do you find them palatable? It happens with everything in general, when all spontaneity and naturalness is overcome with perfection … all feelings disappear.
What other projects are you working on; what's next?
I'm still working on my video series “Routine is making me erratic,” and lately I've also been collecting sounds and images from my apartment. I've been calling it “Total Awareness” and it was inspired by a quote from Blaise Pascal. (“All men's miseries derive from not being able to sit in a quiet room alone.”) Moving to the U.S. has brought a new aperture to new observations on society, and sometimes I feel people here in the U.S. are less interested in finding peace in being alone with no noise, no music, no entertainment of any kind … everything goes way faster here. It seems like people have trouble “doing nothing.”