Magazine article Sculpture


Magazine article Sculpture


Article excerpt


Bread Army


For several years now, Hermann Josef Hack has been working in an unusual medium-bread. Inspired by the seasonal appearance of Weckmänner (traditional German sweetbread people) in bakeries over the winter holidays, the artist-activist decided to give these otherwise benign children's treats a political purpose. Hack started organizing Weckmänner demonstrations on the streets of Cologne, with the little bread people holding up signs in German reading, "Art collector, where did all your money come from?" and "Art = Capital, Artist = Capitalist." The project has grown over the years to include bread bombs strapped to trees and telephone poles and bread tanks roaming the streets. In one instance, Hack strapped baguettes to himself under a trench coat, like a suicide bread bomber, and stood in a public square. The Bread Army's most recent assault, in Paris last February, started with tanks parachuting into the city before making their way to the Eiffel Tower, Arc de Triomphe, and Centre Pompidou, while bread bombs appeared menacingly on trees. Despite its successful invasion, the Bread Army ultimately lost the battle, defeated by Parisian pigeons.

Hack uses humor very intelligently: "I find humor and games important in order to gain people's sympathy," he explains. People in a good mood are much more likely to connect with the artwork. Hack's public interventions have addressed a wide variety of issues, from global warming to the ridiculousness of the art world. With Bread Army, the subject at stake was food justice. Hack likes to point out the absurdly tragic irony of a world in which some people die of hunger while others suffer from obesity. He equates his use of bread-it's stale by the time he gets to it- to Christian symbolism, sharing, and charity. As a form of sustenance, his bread sculptures attract not only pigeons, but also homeless people. The artist says that this is all part of the project. Like his old teacher Joseph Beuys, Hack seeks to reclaim public space, both physically and politically. The intention of his work? "Only art can save us now."




Spain hasn't been doing well lately. After taking a hard hit from the financial crisis, news items devoted to increased unemployment (now over 50 percent for young people and 25 percent over all), evictions, emigration, and suicides have become all too familiar. In March, following the banking debacle in Cyprus that led to nationwide bank runs and empty ATMs, a new Spanish mattress company was announced-one that made mattresses with built-in strongboxes.

Spanish artists have taken this mayhem as both inspiration and a call to arms. In Barcelona last February, Octavi Serra, Mateu Targa, Daniel Llugany, and Pau Garcia joined together to cast chalk hands and install them throughout the old city center. Scattered along the famed Passeig de Gràcia, the Plaça de Catalunya, and other popular areas, the hands hold nooses above bank doors, dig for change in payphones, and try to break into closed shop shutters with crowbars. The deliberate placement of Hands in the most touristed areas-including in front of Gaudí buildings-underscore the artists' intention to engage an international audience. In one case, a hand juts out of a wall, palm up and begging for alms, with a cardboard sign reading "Help Spain" (in English) underneath. …

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