Visiting Mentor Workhop: the social, ecological and political currency of bread Moving Image MA, Sandberg Instituut, Amsterdam NL
Above: a spectrum, breads from 9 different bakeries throughout Amsterdam
Over the course of 3 days, students from the Moving Image MA program made 4 slowly fermented doughs using local whole grain flour. Why fermentation and why local whole grain? Many reasons, but to name a few: to shorten the supply chain, embracing smaller diverse purveyors and the difficulties of working with non-commercial flour (because large scale industry won’t), a more viable option for human and ecological health and a way forward in the face of a changing climate.
We also considered: how state sponsored white flour is used to pacify and control while also malnourishing the poor; how the greed of agribusiness has degraded our wheat supply and the land and communities it uses to grow it (petrochemical reliance, loss of heritage seeds), and is now profiting off a new market of processed starches; looking closely at which breads we value (European style loaves, “healthful” breads, the definition of which changes but tends to correspond with the most expensive ones); the actual labor of bread making, both commercial (majority men) and domestic/unwaged (majority women); and how to view a predominantly white and male community shepherding in a contemporary bread culture in the global North/West, focused on visual and virtual display and the mastery of (dominance over?) an ancient process.
The students wrote new recipes and made their own forms for their breads as a means of questioning the commonplace- the plain sight where malfeasance can fester unchecked. And as a reminder that innovation doesn’t necessarily require technological acceleration, just critical, creative, engaged minds.
Workshop: making, baking, breaking: fundament as luxury
Likeminds Conference, New York
The theme of the conference was time. Students were encouraged to think of time as circular as opposed to linear, and of the baking workshop itself as a microcosmic contained cycle of production and consumption, in contrast to one that is fragmented and hierarchical. While building elaborate and methodical crackers- arguably the most basic bread type- we discussed how we assign value to what we consume, and why, when something is aestheticized or visually refined, there is an instinct to treasure, hoard, stash, and own, rather than share, digest, use, and ultimately destruct. Everything was broken and eaten by the end of the weekend.
Residency and Workshop: voicing, control: re-writing instruction
Illustration School, Porto, Portugal
Students spent a day learning how to make a slow-fermented challah without a recipe, instructed instead to record each step in whatever language (idiomatic and material) was appropriate to them. After baking, the breads were displayed together for a meal served to a visiting group. It was suggested that students: consider how an expansion of language can expand our experience, revisit voices of control and our complicity towards them, question assumed form and vocabulary, and size up feelings of ownership through personal production and subsequent loss of those fruits. The result was many different individual representations of shared work, without influencing or quieting one another. All of the students’s recipes and their illustrated components were printed alongside one another in a publication at the end of the school program.