Photo via Instagram.

Is Cardi B's Lactaid Bowl A Nod to Damien Hirst and the Inherent Prison of Humanity?

"You know I made it when they sent me a motherf*cking bedazzled bowl of cereal."

by Emma Specter
|
Feb 22 2019, 6:20pm

Photo via Instagram.

It was yet another ordinary morning—birds chirping, sun shining, children boarding school buses, lunch pails in hand—when Cardi B broke the tedium with her signature yowl: "Bitch, let me motherfucking tell you how I can't drink whole milk no more, you know what I'm saying? Because I'm a lacto-intolerant, bitch."

In response to Cardi's affliction, Lactaid sent her a bedazzled bowl bearing their logo, and she was—to put it simply—overjoyed.

Cardi took pains to highlight the inherent harmony of the bowl's appearance, holding it up as the Platonic ideal of cereal reception as she caressed it lovingly with her similarly bejeweled false nails: "This is the perfect bowl—like, it's not too much cereal, not too much milk, balanced well." Mies van der Rohe would be proud.

From an art/design perspective, Cardi's not wrong. The juxtaposition of the inherently uncool "Lactaid" emblem, dressed up and sparkling in gems, is reminiscent of Damien Hirst's 2007 work "For The Love of God," an 18th-century human skull encrusted with 8,601 diamonds.

"...In the most brutal, direct way possible, 'For the Love of God' questions something about the morality of art and money," wrote Richard Dorment in a Telegraph review of the work, and Cardi's Lactaid bowl raises similar questions about how, exactly, wealth functions to gloss over unpleasant truths. Ultimately, Hirst's skull and the Lactaid bowl each underpin an essential anxiety about the reality of existence—because we are human, do we not die? Do we not get gassy after consuming too much 2% milk?

Ironically, "For The Love of God" has begotten its own knockoffs on Etsy, with jewel-encrusted skulls selling as coin banks and earrings; maybe, by shrinking the ghoulish face of dressed-up death small enough to fit on our desks or in our earlobes, we're cheating death in a way. Is that the driving force behind Cardi's Lactaid bowl—wallpapering over the unbearable with sequins? Only Lactaid—and maybe Hirst—can say for sure.