If you feel like exploring, you climb through the broken window to find a concealed sterile hospital ward, hidden from the noise and the buzz of the city outside. Inside the beds appear empty, though there is a stained and dirty toy at the end of one bed from a previous occupant and restraining straps on others At the far end is a surveillance camera and a bell invites you to contact patients, doctors and attendants, should you choose to. Be careful though, you are not alone. Round the corner a live patient is hiding, waiting, ready to ensnare you and keep you here in this asylum in one of the empty beds that is waiting for you. What mad place is this, which is on the one hand sterile and sinister, on the other colourful with walls covered in large, but smashed, sugary treats including a cherry pie, an ice cream sundae, cake, a chocolate bunny and macaroons?
You have stumbled into SUGATARIUM which its creator Peter Anton, describes as an asylum that is locked up and long forgotten for those who have an uncontrollable addiction to sugar, where the boundary, as with all addictions, moves quickly from pleasure to destruction. In SUGATORIUM, patients can lie and view the large smashed sugary treats on the walls and reflect on their addiction.
“Sugar raises the dopamine levels in the ‘rewards center’ of our brains……As with many blissful activities, there is a fine line between pleasure and destruction. The vibrant colors and almost violent way the works are depicted illustrate this link.” (Peter Anton).
American artist Peter Anton (born 1963)’s enjoys giving food new and different meanings. SUGATARIUM fills the Unix Gallery in West 24th Street, near to the High Line, in New York and stands out from the amazing variety of art that fills the many galleries in Chelsea. This installation follows on from his previous installations, The Foodhist Temple, a shrine devoted to the celebration of food and life, installed in the Unix Gallery in 2015, and Sugar & Gomorrah at Art Basel Miami in 2012 in which visitors were transported on a roller coaster through the ruins of a city filled with decaying pillars, fire, and skeletons alongside, as at SUGATARIUM, large scale sculptures of sugary treats and real people.
Imaginative and fascinating, with a real message which modern society needs to grasp about sugar and its addiction.