Artist Walid Raad presents a series of (occasionally, but rarely) lovingly crafted birthday cakes for some of the world’s most toxic and/or bigger-than-life leaders: dictators, strongmen and strongwomen, kings and queens, princes and princesses, emirs, sheikhs and sheikhas, sultans, shahs, emperors and empresses, popes, ayatollahs, presidents, prime ministers, CEOs, and GOATs.
Sixty percent of primary sales will go to nonprofit organizations selected by Walid Raad to benefit from the project. The artist and nonprofits will each receive five percent of all secondary sales on platforms that support creator royalties.
Walid Raad is an Artist and professor of art at The Cooper Union. Perhaps best known for his fourteen-year project on the contemporary history of Lebanon, The Atlas Group, Raad works across media and disciplines to examine the connections between politics, violence, and cultural narratives.
As a teenager growing up in Beirut my favorite pastry shop was Noura. It is still there today. I adored their Mango tarts, but just could not afford them. So, I hatched a plan: what if I offered my budding photographic skills to the owner, in exchange for tarts?
My plan worked. I got the job, and worked day and night, picturing all the cakes and tarts I fancied. That is, until the day I came to photograph a bunny-shaped birthday cake for Amine. All of a sudden it dawned on me that ‘Amine’ might be the divisive President of Lebanon, Amine Gemayel, who was known for his bunny fetish and sweet tooth.
I started to fantasize about poisoning the cake, but just could not go through with it. My cowardice got me thinking about all the adored and/or despised world leaders, and their birthday cakes.
Twenty cakes were created in the first batch. For every cake, there is a corresponding collection of cake slices. The number of slices is determined by the age of the ruler in 2022.
All the slices from one cake look almost the same, with one key difference: the name of a special ingredient written on the edge of the stand. Half the slices are laced with poisons and the other half are infused with elixirs, making each one unique.
Cake-holders will automatically receive ten random slices from their cake. The rest will be made available in a public drop.