*Chocolate Room*

Ed Ruscha. Chocolate Room. 1970/2023 369

Chocolate on paper, sheet dimensions variable, installation dimensions variable. The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles. Purchase with funds provided by the Acquisition and Collection Committee. © 2023 Ed Ruscha. Photo: Brian Forrest

Curator, Ana Torok:  Ruscha first produced Chocolate Room while in Venice, Italy in 1970. During this period, he had been exploring all sorts of unusual substances in his printmaking, and he scoured local supermarkets looking for new materials. He ends up seeing little metal tubes of Nestle chocolate paste that remind him of the metal tubes for his oil paints, and so he decides to use chocolate, screen printing that chocolate onto hundreds of sheets of paper and tiling those sheets across all four walls of a room.

The work must be remade every time it’s presented. Here's one of the fabricators, Edan McPherson, from La Paloma Fine Arts.

Fabricator, Edan McPherson: Not many people have actually printed chocolate. It’s different from ink in that it’s sugary, so it’s coarse, and it’s thick. Chocolate melts at a really low temperature and it’s soft, and so that makes it really challenging. We actually do the printing in the space, because if you were to print it somewhere else and send it, it wouldn’t hold up. You can’t even put your hand behind it, because it literally melts the chocolate.

Ana Torok: As an organic material, chocolate will inevitably change over time. And in past installations, the chocolate has actually bloomed, creating an effect that looks like white dust on the surface. Here is Harlem-based chocolatier, Jessica Spaulding.

Chocolatier, Jessica Spaulding: Blooming is the bane of every chocolate maker’s existence. Bloom can be caused by a temperature change or humidity. So, at some point that chocolate piece may have melted a little bit or got too cold or it has been exposed to water.

You’re in a room with panels made of chocolate, my first thought is how in the hell did they do that? Just think of the world of possibilities. Someone tiled an entire room in chocolate. What could you do?

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