Sharjah artist and chef Moza Almatrooshi has been kneading and shaping bread dough for about two hours, mixing ingredients and shaping the dough into curious shapes as passers-by stop to watch. By the end of the day, the bread is distributed to an eager, if unlikely audience.
The scene is part of her performance The Alphabetics of the Baker, staged during Art Dubai in March for Chaupal: A Journey through South Asia, which invited more than 10 artists from Asia to explore food’s place in communities, politics, traditions and rituals.
Her performance looked at the physicality of bakers. Each day at the expo, she created fresh bread shaped after what she called an imaginary alphabet.
“When you order something from either a baker, confectioner or barista, it’s like you’ve punched the codes in their bodies in how they move around the machines that they have in the kitchen or how they use the tools in the kneading and all of that,” Almatrooshi told Al Jazeera. “I’ve taken those gestures and derived them into shapes, and I’m making them back into bread.”
By doing so, she sought to spotlight the overlooked people behind the world’s most eaten staple.
“I’m very preoccupied with food and my practice looks at several things, whether it’s inside the kitchen space – how people move inside the kitchen and how they’re mechanised – or outside of the kitchen and agricultural spaces – how food politics work in different communities,” she said. “This performance … started with me looking at how people move inside kitchen spaces, particularly bakers.”
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