Cake Man III, 2014

Miami Beach 2014
Stephen Friedman Gallery
Unique life-size mannequin, Dutch wax printed cotton textile, leather, gold, polyester and plaster
Yinka Shonibare, MBE Cake Man III, 2014 Unique life-size mannequin, Dutch wax printed cotton textile, leather, gold, polyester and plaster 315 x 140 x 92 cm 124 x 55 x 47 1/4 inches ‘Cake Man III’ features a man caught theatrically balancing twelve gourmet cakes on a silver tray on his back. Dramatically, it appears that these cakes could topple over and fall to the ground at any moment. This anticipation is further evoked by his hand gestures as the figure attempts to right himself, frantically balancing to ensure that these lavish treats remain greedily his own. This gentleman is smartly dressed in a brightly chequered pink and orange jacket and waitcost with his gold pocket watch hanging from his chest. His well tailored jacket and trousers are made using Shonibare’s trademark wax batik fabric set against a pair of black patent shoes. It is evident that this gentleman is a man of wealth and excess although it is suggested that time is not on his side as calamity is pending. In the place of his head, one of Shonibare’s trademark globes traces the financial activity of the Hong Kong stock market in 2013. Here the presentation of the cakes, with the oozing jam filling and festive decorative icings, acts as a metaphor to symbolise the impulsive appetite and pace which is inherent to stock market culture. Equally, the stance of the figure balancing the weight of these cakes on his back suggests that this lavish excess can be risky. Signaling an impending fall, ‘Cake Man III’ presents a powerful yet playful interpretation of recent economical and social state of affairs.