Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Finger Food

In a dark room, “human” body parts lay stacked on shelves and hang from meat hooks. First thought is that you’ve stumbled into the lair of a serial killer, but in fact, it’s a bakery. What looks very much like rotting body parts are actually the bread sculptures of 28 year-old Thai art student, Kittiwat Unarrom. The artist-baker studied fine arts, mastered painting, sculpture and other media, then went back to his family roots finding fame and a true passion for his artwork. He uses dough as his medium, and has made a name for himself with edible baked goods molded to look like bloody body parts, including heads, arms, feet and legs. Realistic is an understatement. Kittiwat’s creations are so lifelike they look like something that might have been nicked from a crime scene or a forensics lab. To achieve a horribly authentic aesthetic of dismembered human body parts covered in blood, and packaged like meats in a supermarket, Kittiwat spent time studying anatomy and visiting forensic museums while working at the same time in his bakery to improve the taste of his artwork.

In 2008, Kittiwat baked fresh heads for the audience to eat at his Body and the Dead exhibition. One visitor to the exhibition said the tiny heads smelled and tasted fantastic, though it was a slightly uncomfortable sensation if you looked into the eyes before biting into the head. “The first series I did was edible, but not delicious. I don’t want my art to be merely an object of art without audience involvement. I try hard to make the baked art more and more flavorful,” says Kittiwat. Along with edible human heads crafted from dough, chocolate, raisins and cashews, Kittiwat makes human arms, feet, as well as chicken and pig parts. In creating realistic art of human parts, Kittiwat uses anatomy books and his vivid memories of visiting a forensics museum.

“My family is in the bakery business and I learned to bake when I was about ten. I want to speak out about my religious beliefs and dough can say it all. Baking human parts can show the viewer how transient bread and life are. But really, bread is still bread no matter how it looks.”

“I don’t think art should exist only in galleries or museums. I want to see my art in other venues. Every day when I bake, ideas come to me on how to use dough to make art. My next pieces will not be related to the human body as I want to do something different.”

No doubt the YouTube clip below was a special showing arranged to film his work, but interested bread and art connoisseurs should not bother making the trip to Ratchaburi, north of Bangkok to buy a freshly baked severed head. The family bakery produces only ordinary bread.

Curious about this art-bread? If you happen to be in Bangkok for the next week or so, you can check out a retrospective of Kittiwat’s 2008 Body and the Dead exhibition at Bangkok’s Whitespace Gallery, scheduled to run through August 8.

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Oak Hill, Florida, United States
A longtime expat relearning the footwork of life in America