“I laugh because I must not cry,” Abraham Lincoln said. “That is all, that is all.”
The artist Lauren Garfinkel knows that all too well, which is why, as the 2016 campaign has stretched far beyond the calendar year that was supposed to contain it, she has found a way to embrace mirth: via Circus Peanuts. And salmon. And baby carrots. Garfinkel has been steadily producing a series of food-based sculptures—usually portraits of the campaign’s primary figures—and documenting them on her Instagram feed, @ediblegovernment (and on the website of the same name). Her creations are Lincoln’s observation, essentially, only with a dollop of hair-hummus.
Garfinkel doesn’t have a culinary background; she trained at the Rhode Island School of Design, and by day works in fashion and textile design. Edible Government offers, for her, a kind of qualified catharsis: It’s civic engagement and escapism at the same time. Its works are generally quite partisan—Garfinkel first got the idea to experiment with food, she told me, in the aftermath of George W. Bush’s “heckuva job, Brownie”—and often feature punny titles. (One version of Trump, fabricated by elements of Chinese take-out foods, is titled “Take Out Trump.” And Garfinkel has also created works titled “Disenfranchfries,” “Putinesa,” and “History Reheats Itself.”)