Making Bread of the City, Action 1 (2013)
In collaboration with Sabri Reed
For Casa Duno’s performance art exhibition Conceal/Reveal - which took place August 2013 on one city block in Chicago's South Loop - Sabri Reed and Marissa Lee Benedict performed the first iteration of their ongoing collaborative proposition Making Bread of the City. Starting with only a jar of proofing yeast, a small convection oven and the basic tools for making bread (strapped to a backpack for portability), the artists negotiated the day, and the designated city block, attempting to gather the basic resources needed to make bread: flour, water, salt, sugar and electricity. Setting out in the morning with the task of making bread and sharing it in a public space, the performance became all of the encounters and misadventures, in addition to the exposure and ad-hocism necessary, in the process of making a loaf of bread. The performance was an exercise in having and not having, of public and domestic space, of negotiating the intimacy of breaking bread together, and a challenge to take on the risks of being present and open to the potential of the city.
Making Bread of the City, Action 1 is part of a larger project through which Reed and Benedict are researching all of the ingredients necessary to make bread in a series of long-term performance adventures. They see bread both as a familiar and accessible everyday object, and also as something that ties together larger economic, social and cultural systems. Bread - particularily yeast-based bread - is a truly site specific food, as its taste and consistency and all of its distinct qualities are contingent on the conditions from which it was made: the strains of yeast (including wild yeast in the area), the humidity and temperature, the water quality, and the hand that kneaded it. As the artists break bread into its constituent parts, they hope to reveal a conversation about resources and place, about time and transformative processes, and about materiality and intimacy.