Sanne De Wolf: Meet the artist who bakes messages into loaves of bread - Artdependence magazine, 2020

"Because of my love at first sight for a bakery in Tehran, I saw similarities between the bakery and my artist studio, were I work with porcelain, plaster and salt as a daily ritual.Aside from this, the Middle Eastern bakeries seem like a white wide space. You could almost be presenting a gallery space".


Sanne De Wolf lives and works in Antwerp. Her fascination for language and sign systems leads to art that has roots in conceptualism, but materializes in diverse media such as porcelain, paper, human hair, bread, textile, performance and video.


De Wolfs' works are subtle, often fragile and carry a poetic tension. Connection is central to her, whether it be social, geographical, cultural or historical. Although engagement is essential in her practice, her work is seldom explicit.


De Wolf has a natural affinity with the Middle East, both thematically and in the use of an implicit language. In 2017 and 2019 she stayed in Iran and Lebanon during a number of art residencies. The results of these residences were shown in exhibitions in Tehran, Ghent, Lebanon, Paris and Antwerp. 




ArtDependence (AD):You have an ongoing project in which you create messages on bread. You did this project in Syria, Iran, Lebanon and now in Antwerp. Is bread the medium or is bread the piece of art?


Sanne De Wolf (SDW): I guess both.


In this project, bread is the medium that spreads messages to question, to empower, to keep thinking, imagining and activating.It is intended to reach the widest possible audience, so it can find the heart of our society.


Originally the text is made by pressing a wood carved mold onto the bread.The letters appear in ‘haut relief’ on the surface. These unique pieces are made in collaboration with chef boulanger M. Saelen and available in limited editions which can be preserved as an artwork.


During the time of Covid-19, distance and communication made me switch the way of communicating. Now I send digital formats to the bakeries abroad. They cut the format and use it as a mold. The texts are made with flour on the breads.

AD: Why bread?

SDW: Bread approaches different layers and meanings. It is a universal material, object and subject that is used and needed by everyone, no matter the culture, economic or social differences. It’s considered to have a long history that has created new opportunities in the wellbeing and the human way of life.


AD: Why these places?

SDW: My love for Iran is originated because of the use of language.Iran has a long history of poetry, but also politics. In a certain way it gives context to the language I use in my work. We speak the same metaphorical language.Also the regimes in these countries make artists aware of what we don’t see any more in the West.


AD: What was the strongest message you communicated in this medium?

SDW: I like all of them. For me it’s a game, like music, a sculpture or an installation.They always balance on poetics and politics. I try to encourage people to reflect, to question evidence. It’s important that we keep thinking.

The texts as they are known arise by a process of modeling, twisting, putting upside down. They always reflect on an urgent situation or conflict. The most important thing is that the texts make people aware of their thinking and reflect on habits and ideas. I hope the texts are an opening for communication.

If I really have to choose a favorite one, I choose ‘Give us more light please’.On the one hand it refers to enlightening the spirit, at the same time it points to a political issue in Lebanon where people face a blackout every day.