Watch Decorated Bread, a web performance by Maria Varela on our Youtube channel.

The live streaming lasted for seven days, from 20 until 26 February, 10:00-18:00.



Maria Varela

#open call : 11-19 February
#web performance : 20-26 February
#community workshop : 27 & 28 February
#podcasts : March

Decorated breads were traditionally used to celebrate rituals in the cycle of life (weddings, engagements, passings etc) and to mark the change of seasons (summer, harvest). Endowed with a magical / religious potential these breads were decorated with symbols inspired by daily life and nature, visualizing a desire or wish by the person who created or requested the bread. Traditional symbols:Snakes, flowers, leaves, pine cones, grapes, pomegranates, birds, lizards, hedgehogs, mice, scorpions, butterflies, knots, worry beads, wheels etc.
(extract from Bread and Pastries of the Greeks, Nikos & Maria Psylaki)

Maria Varela works with codes, languages and skills that are often rooted in traditional cultures and linked to female domestic labor.

In her new work she refers back to rituals and symbols that belong to the tradition of female craft-making and decorated breads aiming to update their vocabulary and mode of production but also to experience the ritualistic patterns of their production process.

Using bread as a starting point, both as a basic food right but also endowed with symbolic potentialities, Varela re-packages the production process forming a hybrid meta-form, where producer and consumer, online and offline, interface and face-to-face, present and past, individual experience and collective labor, symbols and matter intersect.

Varela created a database of symbols, where wishes / requests / orders will be archived; she also created an algorithm which will select the wishes that will be materialized which in turn will be matched with the coded symbols that relate to each wish; the coded wishes are produced by Varela over a series of days at TAVROS and will be broadcast live via a web performance.

The next stage of the process is the formation of a social network of women who will knead, decorate and weave onto bread. Some of these women are well versed in the process and its symbolic gestures, others will be new to the process, learning and experimenting on the way through their artistic practice. The network will be completed by academics who will contribute to the discourse from an anthropological, folk and museum studies perspective.

The social network is the artwork. The code is the artwork.

The ritual

Self Practice
1. research into symbols / bibliographic research
2. contact with Female Agricultural Collective Aiantis, specializing in decorated breads
3. learning to make decorated bread, trial runs with Mrs Aggeliki Kavakaki (Female Agricultural Collective Aiantis)

Collective Practice
4. open call > collection of wishes/requests and taxonomy into a database > algorithm codification
5. web performance by Maria Varela making of decorated breads
6. workshop with decorated breads: Female Agricultural Collective Aiantis – five female artists
7. making of decorated breads by the five artists
8. podcasts by academic contributors / curated by Despina Catapoti

9. presentation of decorated breads
10. uploading of podcasts and web performance

Aggeliki Kavakaki, Director of the Female Agricultural Collective Aiantis
Maria Georgoula, Artist
Anastasia Douka, Artist
Malvina Panagiotidi, Artist
Stephania Strouza, Artist
Paky Vlassopoulou, Artist
Despina Catapoti, Assistant Professor in Cultural Theory and Digital Culture, Department of Cultural Technology and Communication, University of the Aegean
Yannis Drinis, Head of the Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage and
Intercultural Relations, Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Sports
Vassiliki Kravva, Assistant Professor Social Anthropology, Department of History and Ethnology, Democritus University of Thrace
George Manginis, Academic Director, Benaki Museum
Despina Nazou, Social Anthropologist, Postdoctoral Fellow , University of Crete

Co-funded by the Creative Europe Programme of the European Union, as part of the project The Table and the Territory.

Polyeco Contemporary Art Initiative PCAI , French Institute of Greece.