BreadMatters is a series of conferences, fora and exhibitions organised by the Portuguese artist Inês Amado. Each forum explores a different aspect of the 'culture' of Bread, its importance and significance in its various guises to all societies across our planet. The contributors to the Lublin forum deal with the socio-political and cultural aspects of Bread.
Bread, the common link where all religions, all cultures meet
Memories of Bread
As a child my mother would send me to school with two nice "papo secos", bread rolls with ham, jam of various kinds, some fish or steak and some fruit, all nicely packed inside the most beautifully decorated baskets made of wicker.
At lunchtime there would be queues and arguements between the contenders and candidates for my sandwiches, as for sure, I would be exchanging my lovely sandwiches of steak or "marmalada" for their "broa". Broa is a bread made of corn, maize, only found in Portugal, its rather hard, firm crust, was to me the most precious, cherished and tasty morsel I could possibly have!
As a teenager during holiday time, together with a group of friends, I would wait up until 4 o'clock in the morning for the wonderful smell of hot bread to permeate through the baker's chimney. We would then rush to get the very first few breads to come out of the oven. Nothing like hot bread and buttter!
In my own work I have used common objects to explore and examine our perception of Time. In recent installations and performance in London and Poland I have used bread in an "out of context situation", the purpose of which was to rethink and relocate bread and elicit a response from viewers questioning our customary relationship to bread and the way it is perceived.
Bread can speak of a nation; it is invariably the first thing you will eat when visiting a country. Bread can assume a significant socio-political and cultural importance in society that belies its humble status. It is such a primitive basic food that its denial through political or environmental intervention can have exceptional impact.
In a society such as England, left over bread will not be able to find its way to feed the hungry. It cannot be given to charities or any other organisation, unless one can guarantee the same amount of "left overs" each day. We live in a mass production / supermarket era.
Bread, this humble basic food, in its humility; symbol of the body itself in its impermanence, transience and fragility. Bread as the cement of the community, as the common denominator amongst the world's population. Bread the simplest, the most humble of foods and yet the most crucial, the most shared, the most symbolic, poetical and mystical!
BreadMatters intends to open the debate through a series of presentations by speakers and artists from various fields giving it the widest focus, from political, poetical, philosophical, the humanitarian, religious to the artistic and cultural.
Bread, a symbol of power or of poverty, the backbone of the uprising, revolution, hunger strike, famine and war.
Bread, food for the body. Bread, food for thought.
Bread. What an ordinary simple word. One of the words we all use most frequently, every day, many times a day. At the same time bread is a word-symbol. When we say it in the context of our every day life, we do not think, what a great blessing it is for man to have enough of it, and what a great tragedy is its lack. A lack of bread is hunger, both in a existential and spiritual aspect, for bread is food for the body, but also for the soul. 'Give us each day our daily bread, oh Lord' - Jesus taught us in prayer to His Father in Heaven. And we ask for it in our prayers. In a piece of bread Jesus concealed his Eucharistic body to make bread our food for eternal life, food of greater importance than the one man can give.
With a great joy and pride I accepted Inês Amado's proposition to host the first edition of the International conference BreadMatters in Lublin, a city which is a capital of typically agricultural region, where our traditional old-polish respect for bread is a living issue. It is a great honour for us, the Biuro Wystaw Artystycznych galleries, to become an organiser for this conference thanks to Inês Amado and following her programme. I would like to thank all our guests, artists, art theoreticians who came to Lublin from different countries to talk about bread, its various aspects, everyday and existential, but also the ones that transcend our everyday life, spiritual.
I would like to recall now another event which happened earlier. Perhaps it was an introduction to this conference. I have in mind Inês Amado's one-person show at the Labirynt 2 Gallery. The artist shared with us the bread which she baked herself, asking us for a thought in exchange, a symbolic gift of what we consider, deeply in our hearts particularly important and want to share with others.
Finally, I would like to quote a fragment of a poem by a great Polish romantic poet, Cyprian Kamil Norwid, this is from the poem 'My Song'
Let us respect bread, a gift of heaven and welfare of people.
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