The traditional types of visual art, most stereotypically involving pieces such as an oil painting on canvas, can come at the expense of the environment. For example, while the added chemical fillers and ingredients in paint do contribute to its “luminosity, stability, and affordability, they often impose undesirable health risks” (Weintraub).
During the past weeks of quarantine, the amount of bread being baked and made has risen significantly. All over social media, you can see many, many people sharing their baked goods that were made from scratch. Obviously, this increase in bread-baking is due to the quarantine and the increased amounts of time we suddenly have on our hands.
As many people turn to bread-making as a source of comfort during the current physical-distancing measures, it’s becoming more and more evident that bread plays an important role in our lives. It is an essential food that is ubiquitous throughout the world as a staple prevalent in many cultures.
Inspired by last week’s lecture, and more specifically bread and yeast, I decided to make pizza this weekend. To my surprise, when I went shopping for the ingredients, there was no bread flour and very little yeast available, even weeks into the quarantine. Curious about the longstanding nature of the COVID-19-driven wheat shortage, I began conducting research to understand the extent of this issue.
My Armenian parents frequently tell me about the lifestyle of families in small villages throughout Armenia. They emphasize the importance of baking lavash, a soft and thin flatbread, in these villages. Made with flour, water, and salt, lavash can come in different forms of thickness depending on how it is rolled. Although it is a form of income for many families, lavash also has a deeper meaning beyond financial gain.
The current situation is a tough one, and one that produces new difficulties daily for individuals and families across the world. A reality for many of us every day as we remain barricaded indoors is a barrage of news articles detailing disheartening and often downright frightening developments, and to which it feels like none of us can have any impact. Following suit are data on various trends, including increasing unemployment, numbers of infected and dying individuals, and shortage of essential supplies.
Restaurants remain closed throughout the country, and the dining industry has been shocked through its core. Citizens have taken matters into their own hands by raiding grocery store shelves. Governments have recommended that citizens limit their trips to essential businesses and grocery stores. Despite being one of the most dangerous places to go during a pandemic, individuals are relentlessly making more and more trips to their local market.
With the quick disappearance of bread from supermarket shelves, people across the world have started to create their own creations they call bread. With very simple yet sometimes difficult to find ingredients nowadays, this food staple can be created.
In artist Haytham Nawar’s “Collective Bread Diaries: Cultural Identities in an Artificial Intelligence Framework,” bread takes on multiple roles that transcend its materiality and humility. Bread not only becomes a vehicle for staple nourishment, but a vehicle for the sustenance of civilization, economic prosperity, and social order.
Figure 1: Wall-E, a Disney movie released in 2008 (Source: Wall-E)
125. One hundred twenty-five grams of bread was given a day to people of Leningrad for three long years from 1941 to 1944, when Nazis besieged the city, cutting it off supply lines and ceasing communication with the outside world. Workers and soldiers, children and adults, young and elderly — all got the same amount. The loss of a "bread-card" — a document, entitling one to their portion of dry, old, rye bread, meant the difference between life and death. People fought, stole, and killed to get their piece.
It is indubitable that the agricultural revolution formed the foundation for all civilization and human expansion. Humanity depends on food and sustenance, and even today grains remain the most fundamental component of the global diet. For this reason, it is very interesting to examine the role of the resource as it relates to culture and both historical and modern society. The work of Haytham Nawar is a phenomenal contextualization of the significance of bread across people and nations.
My average breakfast the past few weeks has consisted of some form of juice along with a protein bar and another non-perishable snack on the side. Yet, this isn’t what I or most Americans typically dine on in the mornings. Due to the recent COVID-19 outbreak, the majority of our typical daily rituals have been replaced or compromised on due to the quarantine mandate.
As the novel coronavirus continues to grow and spread across the world, a significant portion is under some form of stay-at-home order from local and federal governments. Citizens around the world are either prohibited from or strongly discouraged to leave the home and it is recommended that individuals limit their trips to essential businesses, such as grocery stores, as well.