Open Call, Events, Communities

decorated bread

Maria Varela, Decorating Breads


open call: new date to be announced
web performance: new date to be announced
workshop: new date to be announced

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.

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 creates a database of symbols, where wishes / requests / orders will be archived; she will also create 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 their desires and fears 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. The network will include 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 process is the artwork. 

The Ritual


1. research into symbols / reading material, online sources 

2. contact with women experts on decorated breads @Kapandriti  

3. learning to make decorated bread, trial runs with Mrs Aggeliki (4x classes) @TAVROS 

Collective collaboration

4. open call / online & s/m 

5. collection and taxonomy of requests into a database / online

6. algorithms codify creation of new symbols /online

7. web performance by Maria Varela making of decorated bread@TAVROS @YouTube

8. workshop with decorated breads with AD, ΜG, MG, PV, SS and women from the female collective Aiantis 

9. podcasts by the above contributors with the collaboration of DP 


10. uploading of podcasts and web performance / online & s/m


DP= Despoina Catapoti, Assistant Professor in Cultural Theory and Digital Culture, Department of Cultural Technology and Communication, University of the Aegean

AK=Aggeliki Kavakaki, Director of Aiantis Women’s Agricultural Crafts Cooperative

PV = Paky Vlassopoulou, artist

MG = Maria Georgoula, artist
ΑD = Anastasia Douka, artist
MP = Malvina Panagiotidi, artist
SS = Stephania Strouza, artist

Ioannis Drinis, Head of the Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage and Intercultural Relations, Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Sports

George Manginis, Academic Director, Benaki Museum

Despina Nazou, social anthropologist, postdoctoral fellow (General Secretariat for Research and Technology/ Hellenic Foundation for Research and Innovation ), University of Crete

Decorated Bread is part of The Table and the Territory a European and trans-disciplinary project to develop, connect and enable a community of cultural actors committed to ecological transition and sustainable food to come together, share their expertise, build skills, to develop and evaluate (especially with scientists), to share (in particular with the public) and to highlight (especially with the political actors), the importance of Culture based Solutions, in full emergence on a European scale and in the context of climate change and environmental sustainability.