Yvette Mayorga’s sugary sweet cake decorations reveal a dark critique of surveillance and consumerism
The artist discusses her “guilty obsession” with cake decorating and how she uses the tools of the trade to critique the militarisation of the Mexico/US border.
- Elfie Thomas
- 11 February 2022
In her most recent work Surveillance Locket, Yvette Mayorga takes a nostalgic trip through 90s American toy history and returns with her sugary sweet and surreal rendition of the Polly Pocket mansion. “It's a toy that I always dreamed of owning, but never did,” she tells It’s Nice That, “to me it's a marker of attaining an American-ness that as a child of immigrants is often sometimes forced upon us in order to fit in.”
Made with piping bags and tips used to decorate cakes, the decadent halls of this Polly Pocket mansion slide between domestic interiors of her childhood and imagined, dream-like spaces. The artist tells us that the work is an “ode to my girlhood”, which was spent between her home in America watching Looney Tunes and MTV, and frequent family visits to Mexico where she was surrounded by the elaborately gilded interiors of “rococo-esque” churches. The project is a “compounding of these two worlds coming together”, she adds. But as we luxuriate in the decadent recesses of this colourful childhood dream, the artist points out that something sinister is afoot: “there is a feeling of an impending doom amidst the luscious pink moments of joy and consumerism.”
The Polly Pocket mansion is under surveillance. Toy soldiers infiltrate its halls, crouching in doorways and underneath staircases. These are the vigilant figures of the militarised US/Mexico border, which Yvette critiques in much of her work. The border played an important role in her childhood as she would cross it when moving between her home in the Midwest and visiting family in Mexico. Equally interested in exploring colonial legacies in Mexico’s art history, a second look at the structures in Surveillance Locket reveals that it is laced with a critique about excess and overconsumption.
We can also attribute the sugary aesthetics to Yvette’s “guilty obsession” with TV cake shows and Instagram reels. “Cake decorating is a true craft that is super laborious”, she adds. The artist pumps piping bags with acrylic paint before applying it directly onto the canvas. This is what gives her works their “sculptural” appearance, the artist explains, “there are sometimes 20 plus layers of thick-ass paint”. While she rarely turns to the use of a paintbrush, when she does, “it's for a good reason”, she says.
Yvette’s piped dream worlds will grace the walls of many galleries and exhibition spaces this year, but she’s particularly excited about her first public artwork set to be installed and permanently displayed at Terminal 5 of O'Hare International airport later this year. Terminal 5 has particular symbolic significance for Yvette. Spending many an hour there waiting for flights, it represents an “in-between space” between her home in America and her parents homeland of Mexico. While she can’t give away much about the project, she tells us to expect something “very pink, sumptuous, decadent and surrealist”.
About the Author
Elfie joined It’s Nice That as an editorial assistant in November 2021 after finishing an art history degree at Sussex University. She is particularly interested in creative projects which shed light on histories that have been traditionally overlooked or misrepresented.