THE MAN FROM BAKERSTREET
In Austria, up to 166,000 tons of food, including every fifth of all the bread, are wasted per year. Each supermarket throws away on average 45 kg of edible food every day. In response to this, the artists Markus Jeschaunig and Wolfgang Oeggl created the sculpture Arc de Triomphe, made with old bread and placed it at Mariahilferplatz, Graz, Austria, in May 2012. Inspired by this monument, I quickly developed a performative, clowning response. I portrayed the character of a tired and dissatisfied baker who wants people to appreciate their “daily bread” and is grumpy that he and his profession are so misunderstood. Thus, my performance depicts a baker, “The Man From Bakerstreet,” who is part of a dying breed, and lives in fear of becoming unemployed. I begin the action by sleeping (after finishing a hard day’s baking), and then proceed to ritualistically distribute pieces of bread to the audience.
Creating a “church of bread” in the city center entices other passersby to gaze at me as the sleeping baker, and then share my bread. Announcing to my audience that I will do “what no baker ever did before,” I keep them in suspense whilst doing the “bread dance” and showing off my wares. Responding to each environment I find—such as the passing noisy samba band or the cyclist who found himself in the middle of the show—with comical gestures of anger and frustration, this performance piece evoked a lot of laughter and gently highlighted the trials and tribulations of traditional baker. In a world now full of industrialized food production, what is the future for these traditional bakers and their bread? At the end of the performance, “The Man From Bakerstreet” juggles three burning baguettes.