HD video, single screen with sound, 8min 53sec
Director: Tereza Buskova
Editorial Assistants: The Stifani Brothers
Music: Bela Emerson
The Baked Woman: Zoe Simon
Participants: The women of Doubice
This video evolved from an investigation into Monoculture. I started with a focus on agriculture; in particularly the wheat which has pervaded European culture for as long as the folk traditions that I am typically drawn too.
The act of baking with wheat seemed like such a universal almost timeless phenomena. It is a craft that has been carried out for hundreds of years on daily basis and it seems to capture something positive about monoculture that elevates beyond any current or fashionable trends. Subsequently, whilst I have a distaste for contemporary homogenisation of art and trendy imagery, I see some value in monocultural universalism. Subsequently underpinning this video work is a tension between my valuing of the unfashionable, the historic and the personal against an elevating sense of universalism, particularly between women.
It is set in the village of Doubice (North of Czech Republic) where I spent most weekends as a teen. It explores tradition from a universal view but also celebrates my individuality by creating a fictional ritual, as if it were an annual occurrence for the residents of Doubice. The main focus is on the Prague women who stay in the village at weekends and who together with my mother carry out the 'baking ritual'.
These women unite and together kneed dough which is then baked and transformed into a 'baked woman' symbolising sisterhood, fertility, motherhood and the cycle of life in general.
In keeping with a unifying aim proposed in Tamsyn Challenger's experiments into Monoculture, her embroidered face influenced the baked costume and Matthew Cowan specially constructed a costume made from hundreds of flowers for this ritual. Similar to an exploration of sisterhood is the exploration of any unity between the collaborating artists.
The pastry used in this ritual comes from Vizovice and carries out strong heritage sometimes being referred to as a "surviving pagan custom". It is a special pastry made from ingredients which can be found in any common household, originally used for religious celebratory purposes and often formed into the shapes of animals to represent human characteristics. I hope that the Baked Woman of Doubice similarly taps into something almost transcendental that can be found in the everyday, unifies people and yet at the same time acknowledges the essence of individuality in all cultural activity.