Domestic Confections

Domestic Confections was exhibited at The Stevens Square Center for the Arts as part of the group show “Half Wild,” curated by Areca Roe. Minneapolis, MN, 2013.

Mus musculus, the common house mouse, is one of the thousands if not millions of animals that exist with us inside the borders of human domains: body, domicile, city, civilization, domestication. Their presence is one of the more conspicuous challenges to our idea that we can create places separate from “nature.”
In the process of making these nests, I am looking closely at the craftsmanship of a non-human creator and learning its technique. I am understanding the physical stuff of my domain through the eyes of a different assessment of utility. Mus musculus is not tearing out the stuffing from my chair, it’s reshaping a bit of this soft stuff into a whorl of lofted insulation to protect a new family. What looks like a clumsy pile of chewed paper and soiled fabric and shit and seed stolen from the birdfeeder is actually an engineered structure with materials selected for softness and warmth. Layers of outer materials, reformed by chewing and shredding and loosely stacked, create an efficient insulated barrier that hides and protects an inner chamber lined with fine, tightly woven fibers augmented with fur from its own body and shaped to cradle newborns snuggled into a warm knot.
Reproducing these structures in sweet confections allows me to confront my repulsion, and eating them allows us to symbolically re-integrate the self with nature at the sites where it is most relevant to our lives: our homes, our bodies. Domestic Confections, March 2013. Sugar, guar gum, edible paint, flavoring oils, potato starch paper, photographs of my house, found objects.
Domestic Confections is an installation consisting of seven edible replicas of nests that might be made by a common house mouse from materials available from the rooms of my house. Each nest is an edible sculpture made of specially-created sweet ingredients such as printed potato starch paper, cotton candy, icing sheets and gum paste. Together they are presented as precious objects, highlighting the care and craft that mice take in constructing them, and contrasting the repulsion they elicit from people who find them in their homes. The nests were offered as dessert at a meal designed to prompt conversation about how humans are or are not part of nature. Eating the nests at the end of the meal allows us to symbolically re-integrate the self with nature at the sites where it is most relevant to our lives: our homes and our bodies.

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