On the outside, it’s an unassuming, wood paneled, shed-like box. On the inside, it’s a room straight out of Willy Wonka with walls covered in hot pink cotton candy, free for the eating. New York-based artist Jennifer Rubell created the piece of edible art, “Padded Cell,” for Performa Arts’ Red Party back in November. The freestanding 8-by-16 foot room is constructed from basic building materials with a single door. Inside, the walls and ceiling are padded with 1,600 cones of cotton candy, illuminated by a single light bulb.

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Padded Cell offered an escape from the Russian-themed dinner party, inviting guests to eat their sickly sweet surroundings. Rubell describes it as “an all-American funhouse that is at the same time confining, threatening, claustrophobic. It is an object that addresses the dark side of pleasure, the price of pleasure, the possibility that pleasure is its own punishment.”

Rubell is known for using food and drink in her participatory art. At last year’s Brooklyn Ball, she created Icons, a food journey installation that was the gala’s dinner. It included ribs with honey dripped on them from the ceiling, suspended melting cheese heads (you had to catch the cheese on your crackers), and paintings that poured drinks. The interactive meal was the second Rubell concocted; in 2009, she created a series of food installations in the Dia Arts Center that guests had to partake in if they wanted to eat a meal.

Padded Cell is currently not on display, but Rubell says it will certainly be exhibited again in the future.

+ Jennifer Rubell

Images © Jennifer Rubell