In 2004 the artist Urs Fischer started to build prototypes of a 16.4-foot-high gingerbread-style house made from about 2,500 loaves of bread. It was a process, he says, filled with trial and error: Binding agents including marzipan and raw dough were attempted and discarded (too unstable) until he discovered polyurethane foam was the ideal mortar.
The house was constructed on an open outdoor lot in Vienna, where eventually the daily delivery of dumpsters filled with bread began to draw attention from passersby. Their reaction, to Fischer’s surprise, was a combination of incredulity and outrage. “Austria’s a very Catholic country,” he says, “and everyone there thought the bread was somehow about the body of Christ.”
But when he actually exhibited the work, called Untitled (Bread House), at the New York gallery Gavin Brown’s Enterprise, “the discussion there was all about carbohydrates,” Fischer says. “At which point I gave up with whatever it ‘should’ be about.”
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