Critics’ Picks

Camille Holvoet, Anti-Corna Cake to Kill Virius Pills (sic), 2020, mixed media on paper, 9 x 12".

Camille Holvoet, Anti-Corna Cake to Kill Virius Pills (sic), 2020, mixed media on paper, 9 x 12".

San Francisco

Camille Holvoet

Creativity Explored
3245 16th Street (at Guerrero Street)
April 28–June 12, 2021

In Camille Holvoet’s drawing ReRuns of Obsession, 2015, there are two slabs of chocolate cake, and on each one is scrawled “DUCK-GO-ROUND.” Over the right slice hovers a miniature tombstone. The desserts are dated and inscribed with blueprint renderings of a state-fair-style carousel that sits in the work’s foreground. It’s as if each piece of cake represented a buried memory of the fictive Duck-Go-Round itself. Holvoet’s cakes transpose emotions, fixations, and components of her day-to-day; they are convoys. What’s being taxied in Holvoet’s solo exhibition “Cake Taxi”—curated by Jordan Stein and Lindsey White—varies. One cake is topped with a pair of shoes; elsewhere they are joined by pharmaceutical pills, crossed eyes, illegible glyphs, and a bottle of mint-flavored wine, among other things.

In the oil-pastel-on-mat-board Cake on Fire, 2012, flames lick the titular dessert. A cutaway slice, however, reveals a moist, swimming-pool blue interior that the fire can’t quite penetrate. In Untitled, 2013, a cherry punctuates a frosted cake top displaying diaristic text that describes the need for sex and pleasure; the words “NERVOUS CRUSH CRUST” almost slip over the edge. Dušan Makavejev’s Yugoslavian Black Wave film Sweet Movie (1974) is primarily set on a barge packed with candy that’s sailing on a canal in Amsterdam, its passengers awaiting a socialist revolution that never comes. Much like that barge, Holvoet’s cakes are charged with desire, a curious hunger that seeks out its own consumption.

Creativity Explored has been closed since last March, and Holvoet has been confined to a group home in San Francisco. Works such as Anti-Corna Cake to Kill Virius Pills (sic), 2020, which was done during quarantine, have overtures of loneliness. “This waiting game is heavy,” Chantal Akerman records her mother saying in her 2013 book, My Mother Laughs. The artist’s mère is waiting for heart surgery, surrounded by hospital cakes and Jell-O wrapped in plastic. Captioned with the words “CAKE MEDICINE CAKE,” Holvoet’s pandemic confection displays purple and yellow pills baked into a psychedelic batter buttressed by an aspirational text: “IT KEEPS ME FROM GETTING IT.”