Bread as a tool for collaboration and exchange
All through the Mons Diffusion week, driven by an interest in the relationship of people to the practical doing, Johanna Dehio organizes a range of exercises and talks revolving around the manual preparation of wood fired sour dough bread.
Through her own experience with making dough for baking bread, Johanna has become aware that it requires a certain amount of time and commitment. Every day, in order to keep the sourdough alive, it needs to be „fed“ it with a certain amount of water and flour. Without this daily attention, the dough can go bad and „die“, in which case you have to start all over. The workshop aims to explore the idea that being involved in the care of something and can have a strong impact on one’s well-being.
Building on her own experience of using collective food preparation as a tool for communication, Johanna invites the members of the Diffusion Workshop to join her one after the other, every day, for feeding the dough and reflecting on their relationship to those moments of practical activity where the brain doesn’t necessarily have to join in. Having the hands in the dough is a special sensual moment of being unfocussed, letting thoughts come free, solving problems unconsciously, almost like sleeping, dreaming, recovering time or meditation. When do we allow these moments to happen? While walking or driving, cooking, or taking care of the laundry? We all have a packed daily life and follow our plans and sometimes forget to give much space for such moments occasionally happening along the way.
Another topic is our consumer relationship to bread, a diet component shared by most people: Where do we buy our bread? Does it make a difference whether the ingredients are local or have gone a few time across Europe before we get them in our hands? How important is the taste? How much work is included in the production, where and by whom? Beyond the topic of bread, the talks tackle the question of food consumption in general and of a healthy relationship to what we eat.
These intimate „Sour-dough Talks“ are supplemented by two moments shared by the group, where food preparation is used as a tool for reflection and communication about the group dynamic. During the first evening, the participants are asked to present themselves through a pizza made from a wide range of ingredients, giving an impression of who they are or how they feel: sweet, spicy, green, red, homogenous, chaotic… After a week of sharing daily life as well as an intense common exploration of what it means to learn and experiment together, the participants are invited to get their hands into the dough and bake again, this time a sourdough bread baked in the wood oven. Choosing the ingredients added to the bread dough and thereby varying on taste, color, size and shape, they try their best to offer to another team member a personal bread that can tell what they have learned about them, how they feel towards them, but also sometimes the untold and the private that can only be speculated on. There is time for reflection and sharing common issues while the workshop fades out into an evening apéritif.
Workshop during Mons Diffusion Workshop Week in Jardin Invisible Project by Constructlab during Cultural Capital 2015