Of Bread and Braids. Anna Natt on MYCELIUM

The artist began by braiding her hair. A kind of invocation that hearkened back to the connection between hair and magical spells in fairy tales. While preparing the dough, she shared an anecdote about Donna Haraway, a short stop in the cerebral realm of post-Anthropocene theory before descending into the world of embodied bread baking.

The visual reference to Martha Rosler’s “Semiotics of the Kitchen” was immediate for me — but performing domestic or reproductive labor on stage seems to inevitably tie back to the rich legacy of feminist performance art. Later, as she kneaded the dough, and was seemingly kneaded back by it, I couldn’t help but think of Carolee Schneemann’s “Meat Joy”. Human, dough and yeast entangled in a roil of ecstatic corporeality.

The flour drifted up from the table and settled into Annina’s hair, turning her into the Crone, and I was drawn into the realm of kitchen witchery. The trance induced by the rhythmic movements of kneading bread, the music echoed the enigmatic whispers of fermenting sauerkraut, the unseen tentacular growth of yeast—the kitchen in its serene wildness. As a fellow fermentista, I know this well.

In vino veritas, in massa ambiguitas

“Dough exists in ontological ambiguity.” My friend said on our way back from the theater.

It induces a pareidolic state, transforming anything into everything and back again. The dough consumes itself only to become something else. My mind wandered from one dreamy association to another, akin to falling down the rabbit hole, where face become dough, and dough becomes face. The tongue, a doughy matrix that desires to stretch out of the strict confines of the human body, join its fellow mass and become ambiguous.

The dough recalls Albrecht Dürer’s Pillow Studies. Formless and ambiguously doughy, pillows also serve as a vessel of transport into the dream world. But dough is also chaos—a constant dance of unpredictable movement. One has to wonder if the creation of bread was one of the first human attempts to tame wild and unpredictable Nature.

“Hysterical” Baking

The connection between women and madness was evident in the performance—the instinct to devour, to simultaneously create and destroy. From the deceptively gentle association of a sourdough “Mother” to the primal screams of Diamanda Galas in Wild Women with Steak Knives.

At the end, the artist climbs onto the table, her long hair obscuring her face. A gigantic blob of dough unfurls from between her spread legs. The lights go down but my mind fills in the blanks of what could happen next. I see the dough continue to rise and grow. It engulfs the performer and rolls her into and around the theater. It spills into the front row, and circludes the entire audience in an elastic, encompassing hug.

Anna Natt is a performer in Berlin and would love to have a personal “wiggle room”.


»Mycelium – Eine nahrhafte Gemeinschaft«
Annina Mosimann & Fernando Munizaga

Idee, Konzept, Spiel: Annina Mosimann/ Sounddesign, Komposition: Fernando Munizaga/ Outside Eye:
Nicole Mossoux/ Künstlerische Mitarbeit: Raquel Mutzenberg-Andrade/ Licht, Technik: Lukas Schneider/ Mentorin: Julika Mayer

Unterstützt von
Hochschule für Musik und Darstellende Kunst Stuttgart, Theater Stadelhofen Zürich, Stiftung Landesbank Baden-Württemberg