Body Bakery

Kittiwat Unarrom in his studio, photograph, courtesy of Cool Hunting

Kittiwat Unarrom is the son of a baker and has a masters degree in fine arts. His medium is bread; his subject is human flesh. Since 2006, he has been selling his wares impaled on meat hooks or on plastic-wrapped styrofoam trays behind a glass case in his “Body Bakery” in Ratchaburi, Thailand.

For pictures, text, and a video (in Thai) about the Body Bakery, check out this post via Shape+Colour. NOTE: this may be scary for children.

He is a virtuoso of the grotesque. The skill and attention to detail are impressive, but I am not sure what to make of his work. I can find little information about his intention and it is unclear whether this is primarily due to a language barrier or because he is not one to make artist statements.

His work makes me, coming from a Western perspective, think of the flesh-to-bread transformation of the Catholic Holy Communion, Hansl and Gretl, and Halloween haunted houses where grapes mimic eyeballs and spaghetti moonlights as intestines.

From what I was able to find, he is inspired by the Buddhist concept that one shouldn’t be misled by appearances; what you see may not be true to what you thought. He is quoted as saying, “Of course, people were shocked and thought that I was mad when they saw the works. But once they knew the idea behind it, they understood and became interested in the work itself, instead of thinking that I am crazy.”

Again, maybe it’s a translation issue but this feels like an overly simple and thus frustrating answer. If the goal was to push the idea of ‘seeing is believing’ with home baked trompe l’oeil, there are many different directions to go with this. The painstaking realism of his goods and the faux-cannibalism they imply is an unnerving aspect of his work that this statement doesn’t really address.

I’d be really interested to know more about the interaction with his customers, their experiences buying his products, and whether his showroom functions more closely to a gallery or to a bakery. Do most come in for the novelty or are there repeat clients? What is the life of the ‘body bread’ after it leaves the storeā€”is it served as ‘normal bread’ in a sandwich? What happens to pieces that aren’t sold by the end of the day? Bread is quick to mold in a humid climate… How are the pieces priced compared to a regular loaf?

DISCUSSION: What do you think about the Body Bakery?

  1. Larry Geater says:

    He is not pushing the idea that “seeing is believing”. He is pushing the idea that seeing is not believing. He is pushing the idea that one should not accept surface aprearances as the truth. Your reaction, calling the eating of bread that is textured and flavored like bread “faux-cannibalism” proves that his work needs to be out there because apearances are being treated as reality.

  2. Sarah says:

    Hi Larry. Thanks for your comment. My use of the word “pushing” is confusing and I should have paid closer attention to my word choice. I didn’t mean to suggest that he was enforcing or promoting the idea of ‘seeing is believing’ rather, his statements about his work say that he is testing people’s perceptions. I meant more pushing the limits of the idea of seeing is believing. So I think, on that point, we are in agreement.

    Many artists have enjoyed playing with perceptions and preconceptions. Art 21 Artist James Turrell does this skillfully with light. Kittiwat Unarrom’s choice of subject and its graphic rendering elicits an emotional response. I would be very interested to hear him further discuss his choice of subject matter; it’s a deliberate choice and one that makes his work so striking. With his obvious skill, he could be playing ‘don’t believe everything you see’ by making bread that looks any number of things–chicken, currency, jewelry, a pistol etc-but he chooses to bake disembodied heads and limbs. It’s possible that I’ve become too codependent on Art:21 and wall text as guides. I’ve come to expect artists to discuss provocative work and their process. When they don’t I feel a bit frustrated.

  3. John says:

    They’re not “disembodied”, they’re entirely “bodied”. That’s the body. Disembodied things are not corporeal.

    Also they’re not dismembered either. The body gets dismembered into its…members. These are the members (well, look like the members).

    Could it be that he chose the medium because he’s good at it and it can do what he wants? Would you expect a baker’s son to work in cheese?

  4. thomas says:

    can some one tell me the directions to the bakery?gallery?

  5. anna says:

    I found the body bakery while i was doing a unit in my IT class. I was reading The Silence Of The Lambs at the time and it made me think of what Hannibal Lecters Fridge/Freezer and Panrty would look like =D
    I didn’t know the concept behind the bread when i saw it, the article I read was pretty basic. But wow, that’s amazingly awesome!!!!

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