“In kneading, one repeatedly folds the outer skin of the substance inwards, until it is as it were crammed with surface tension, full of its outside.” In “Needing,” I will embody—by kneading into my body—Gaston Bachelard’s notion of un cogito pétrisseur, a cogito of kneading, a sense of self that is negotiated through “the marvelous equilibrium of yielding and resisting forces.” I will become a dough-body by immersing myself in a tub of flour that obliterates the boundaries of my skin. “Skin is the antagonist of a kneaded world, for it is what holds individual lives separate and aloof.” Participants will be asked to knead my dough-body in an act that folds outside into inside as they fold themselves into me. Through this act, we explore the poetics and politics of an interdependent “self: predicated on kneading and needing in this confusion of boundaries between people, between ideas and between ideas and bodies.” I fold the words from Steve Connor’s The Book of Skin into mine and my body is folded into his ideas.
“The action of kneading makes the material alive because it invests it with energy. One seems literally to put work into the substance one kneads, inducing kinetic potential into the previously dead substance.” We are always molding each other into new lives—what incipient shape and life might emerge from this kneading? The bread rises as we consummate our kneading, our needing.