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Tatsumi Orimoto- “Bread Man Son + Alzheimer Mama” (1996)

March 10, 2010

Bread Man Son + Alzheimer Mama


Photographic Print

This photo represents the intersection of two veins of work by photographer and performance artist Tatsumi Orimoto: his bread man performances and his performative works with his mother who has Alzheimer’s. In the 1990s, Orimoto embarked on an ongoing series of performances in which he tied loaves bread to his face so that he could not be identified. Traveling to different locales across the globe with this universal signifier of sustenance concealing his identity, he took on the persona “Bread Man,” creating unexpected encounters. Simultaneously familiar and other, the bread man performances interrogate identity creation, consumption, and acceptance. He calls this work “communication art;” it explores how and what meaning is made through daily interactions. The bread man spawned another series of communicative works called “Art Mama” in which Orimoto places his mother and others suffering from dementia in unexpected circumstances, often causing the participants much delight, and moving witnesses of the performances or the photographs of them. This staged photo brings bread man (or son in this case) and art mama together in a surprising, and poignant meeting. Though this photographic work is not explicitly a document of performance seems to further blur the already hazy line that segments visual artworks from performative practices. At the crux of this intersection is the question what separates art from life?

Easy, no-Knead, Bread

This simple recipe is meant to mirror the simplicity of Orimoto’s acts. Through simple gestures and interactions, both this recipe and Orimoto create surprisingly profound results.

recipe taken from Mark Bitman of the New York Times. See his video here.

Makes 1 ½ pound loaf

  • 3 cups all-purpose or bread flour, more for dusting
  • ¼ teaspoon instant yeast
  • 1¼ teaspoons salt
  • Cornmeal as needed

In a large bowl combine flour, yeast and salt. Add 1 5/8 cups water, and stir until blended; dough will be shaggy and sticky. Cover bowl with plastic wrap. Let dough rest at least 12 hours, preferably about 18, at warm room temperature, about 70 degrees.

Dough is ready when its surface is dotted with bubbles. Lightly flour a work surface and place dough on it; sprinkle it with a little more flour and fold it over on itself once or twice. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rest about 15 minutes.

Using just enough flour to keep dough from sticking to work surface or to your fingers, gently and quickly shape dough into a ball. Generously coat a cotton towel (not terry cloth) with flour, wheat bran or cornmeal; put dough seam side down on towel and dust with more flour, bran or cornmeal. Cover with another cotton towel and let rise for about 2 hours. When it is ready, dough will be more than double in size and will not readily spring back when poked with a finger.

At least a half-hour before dough is ready, heat oven to 450 degrees. Put a 6- to 8-quart heavy covered pot (cast iron, enamel, Pyrex or ceramic) in oven as it heats. When dough is ready, carefully remove pot from oven. Slide your hand under towel and turn dough over into pot, seam side up; it may look like a mess, but that is O.K. Shake pan once or twice if dough is unevenly distributed; it will straighten out as it bakes. Cover with lid and bake 30 minutes, then remove lid and bake another 15 to 30 minutes, until loaf is beautifully browned. Cool on a rack. Serve once completely cooled.

Please respond in the comments box to the recipe, the art, and your experience of consuming the artwork.

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