So, I went to Vienna and the show was at Krinzinger Gallery, which was in this big building that had been an apartment building, and probably still had lots of apartments in it. So, the room that I was using, was a quite domestic kind of room. It didn’t feel like an institutional space. It was a little corridor, and then there was this small room, and there was a window. And whilst I was there doing my kind of recce visit — I’m quite a greedy person, and I mentioned that I like cakes. They took me to this cake shop or somewhere, and we had hot chocolate and we had cake, and then it became this kind of weird thing with all the different people that were looking out for me that week, kind of getting a bit competitive about where the best chocolate cake was.
So, we literally went — it was kind of disgusting by the end of the week. We literally went on this kind of cake crawl from one place to another trying all these amazing chocolates and all this stuff. So, for me Vienna was a kind of — is a city of chocolate. We went to all these different coffee houses, all these different places, which I noticed, a lot of them had these kind of dark wooden paneled rooms from probably like art nouveau period. So, that was a kind of formal thing. Then I was thinking about the — it’s a city of music, and it’s a city of psychoanalysis, Freud was there, the birthplace of psychoanalysis comes from Vienna. I was thinking about Mozart, and how Mozart even has those chocolate ball things. How Mozart’s music, which I knew from being in the opera, is not as saccharine sweet as we sometimes kind of think of it. There is this kind of dark side to him, and yet he’s got these kind of chocolate balls.1
So, I don’t know, when you say something that’s kind of chocolate box, you normally think of it as being light or superficial. So, I mean these are really broad, sweeping statements. There’s lots of holes, there’s lots of problems that you can — if you want to unpack some of those clichés. So, anyway I just kind of mashed all this together, and decided that I wanted to paint the gallery with chocolate, and it was painted up to like six-seven feet high around the edge. So, it sort of vaguely referenced the architecture of these café interiors, and there was a bench in the middle of the space. So, for me it was like making a stage, it’s like making a place where maybe something has happened in this room or maybe something is going to happen in this room.
You could say that it’s also using the kind of convention of the picture gallery in terms of having a painting and a seat in front of it, and you look at it if you think about the logic of the therapist couch, the couch is kind of part of that convention, and so we — I painted the chocolate. It was really a delicious chocolate, we painted it on the wall, and the smell is really incredible.2 And at the opening — and it was really hot. It was June, I think, it was really-really hot. All the people came to the gallery, and they started licking the walls, and I was really shocked.
I hadn’t thought that people would lick the walls, I hadn’t even considered that, but for whatever reason, which I really don’t know, people started licking the walls and they started sticking their noses in it, and the next day when I came back to the gallery, this relatively pristine — the gallery that had been painted with the chocolate in a quite systematic, vertical way. So, it wasn’t very gestural. It was a quite neutral, brownish surface, had all this kind of gesture in it, and all these traces of this kind of activity, and it got left — I mean it gets left after the opening, whatever happens, that’s the state that the piece remains in.