I have taken my title from the Lord’s Prayer, “Give us this day our daily bread”. It is the fourth of seven petitions contained in that prayer in the Gospel according to Matthew. The first three petitions address God; the other four are related to our needs and concerns, beginning with food.
bread /bred/ noun
1. food made of flour, water, and yeast or another leavening agent, mixed together and baked.”a loaf of bread”
- the bread or wafer used in the Eucharist. “altar bread”
- the food that one needs in order to live. noun: daily bread “his day job puts bread on the table”
2. informal money. “I hate doing this, but I need the bread.”
Ah, yes, this is where ‘a roll of dough’ makes a direct connection to the divorce agreement.
Elena Rosa makes film and video installations that explore gender and performativity through the form of acting. Her work is structured through the language of theater and she primarily ‘acts’ in a ‘male’ gender. The process of becoming or ‘building a character’ is central not only to the performance but also to the internalization and finally representation of gender roles and reversals.
For STATE OF THE UNION, Elena did a performance as a baker preparing Challah, or Egg Bread. According to Jewish tradition, Challah Bread commemorates the manna that fell from the heavens when the Israelites wandered in the desert for forty years after the Exodus from Egypt. In Jewish weddings, the wedding meal begins with a blessing over the Challah. As all of the artists were instructed to bring their work to the Custom Hotel for delivery, the act of baking bread in that situation was at best challenging.
A video camera was set up to record the performance, and interruptions were intentional; my walking back and forth, phones ringing, voices, etc. were intentionally left in the film to signify that this is a recorded performance and not a film as a work of art.
Watching Elena, and knowing that she had used my dissolution agreement as the basis for her performance, caused me to recall many things about my marriage and divorce. Words like ‘absurdity’, ‘ridiculous’, ‘frustration’, ‘delay’, and ‘ritual’ came to mind. Her self-censoring, the repetition of words and phrases to the point of annoyance, her tone of voice changes all were significant to the work. Witnessing the way in which even with all of the correct ingredients, she was unable to manifest the final product, recalled moments in my life as a wife and then ex-wife. And, of course, the performance itself was especially indicative of how we all perform our various roles in life.