Sparkly rocks, hidden creatures, and iridescent fringe form a fantasy landscape in Australian artist Pip & Pop’s new installation at Meow Wolf.
A miniature world of gooey mountains dripped with sprinkles and Lorax-worthy towers of gum balls bring on a delirium of desire. “We are trying to cover every surface in something sweet or sparkly or rainbow,” says Tanya Schultz, aka Pip & Pop. “I love the idea of making things that could be rocks or a land formation, but it also could be edible — like a cake,” says Schultz on a short break from putting finishing touches on their installation. One of those touches is, indeed, a tiny cake. Alina Tang, one of Schultz’s assistants, just sculpted a tiny cake to be hid among the pastel neon mountains. (Look out for tiny doughnuts. They are in there, too!)
A trained painter, color palette and color relationships are essential to Schultz’s work and are what first inspired her. Then, surfaces: glossy, shiny, sweet. Artificial surfaces that evoke that need “to eat or to buy,” as she describes it, started to interest her.
Guided by materials, often sourced on her travels throughout South Korea and Japan, Schultz cites another influence: “Lands of Plenty” (utopian worlds made of food) from folklore and mythology. The witch’s house from “Hansel and Gretel” is one. “Big Rock Candy Mountain,” the 1928 Appalachian folk song re-popularized by the film O Brother, Where Art Thou? describes a “hobo’s paradise” : “There’s a lake of stew / And of whiskey, too”.
Schultz particularly likes a Dutch folktale called Luilekkerland or “lazy-luscious-land.”
“There’s a river of lemonade,” says Schultz. “To get to it you have to eat through a mountain of pudding.” But these tales can be cautionary. “It’s like that sense of appeal and desire, but also gluttony or danger – what happens if you can have anything that you want?”
Schultz likes riding that line between sweetness and ice cream headache.
The sweetness in Pip & Pop’s work is dizzying. One has the sense of snorkeling among the glittering rocks and pom pom barnacles along the walls. Crimped tassels of lavender doll hair dangle from the ceiling. The candy mountains have eyes.
Inspired by Japanese and Korean folktales “where rocks or mountains have the potential to come to life,” Schultz has incorporated more creatures in this work.
In her gallery and museum installations, Schultz uses actual loose sugar, but adjusted to using hardened sugar and other materials for this work – Pip & Pop’s first permanent installation.
Pip & Pop made their U.S. debut last year at the Corey Helford Gallery in Los Angeles. Schultz is excited by the by the wide audience that will see her work at Meow Wolf. “I love making work that’s accessible to people,” says Schultz, not just limited to the traditional art audience.
A typical gallery show takes two weeks to install for Pip & Pop. Schultz, her partner Chad Hedley, and her two assistants Alina Tang and Bodie Hartley, completed this install in about ten days. “We didn’t know what the space looked like before we got here,” Schultz notes. But they quickly adapted. Volunteers jumped on to “roll little sparkly balls” and help heat transfer the iridescent vinyl onto the geometric walls.
Their room does not have an official title or name, “but we’ve been calling it the cosmic cave,” says Schultz with a sense of delight. Come discover Pip & Pop’s first permanent exhibition at Meow Wolf.