Artist Anya Gallaccio’s newest installation brings a Willy Wonka fantasy to life.
This summer, Edinburgh’s sculpture garden will host “Stroke,” an installation from artist Anya Gallaccio’s installation that is both enticing and sinister in its offering.
Gallaccio painted strokes of melted chocolate onto cardboard, and then installed it on the walls to create a space that is dark and sensual, with a hint of a creamy, chocolate scent. Like the first room in the tour of Willy Wonka’s factory, where the children are invited to taste anything they see, visitors to Stroke are allowed to touch, lick and yes, stroke the chocolate walls.
This is not the first iteration of this installation. Gallaccio, who is Scottish but is based in California as a professor of sculpture at UC San Diego, presented the work over 20 years ago in Vienna. At each new show, Gallaccio doesn’t give instructions to visitors about how they should interact with the walls; rather, they are merely invited into the space and left to their own devices. The reaction has been different depending on the locale. In London, people would scrape off the chocolate, whereas in Japan, they licked it.
In a video (shown below) for Jupiter Artland, Gallaccio explains:
The piece is about desire and anticipation more than about really being in the room. It reflects the way we live our lives – so much of that is in our minds. The idea of a chocolate room is one thing and the reality of a chocolate room is something else.
Gallaccio is particularly interested in the scent. Before entering, one might imagine the heady, sweetness of chocolate – a luxurious smell. But in reality, it is strong and almost cloying, perhaps startling to visitors.
The room hosts a bench in the middle, allowing people to sit, observe and contemplate the space, observing the minute shifts in the colors of the chocolate. More than being just a feast for the eyes as well as for the stomach, Stroke hits at all senses.
Stroke is in line with Gallaccio’s works, which looks at themes of domesticity and femininity, reclaiming and recontextualizing objects.
Watch the video to see the chocolate room come to life.