“In the culture that I grew up in bread is nearly sacred,” Oakland-based, Polish-born photo and video artist Milena Korolczuk says. “It represents nourishment and the work that goes into making it. It’s near blasphemy to throw it on the ground.”
That partially explains Korolczuk’s "Wonderbread" series, which consists of small busts of artists, thinkers, and world leaders made from the compressed slices. Plato’s lush beard of bread nubs might be her most ornate model. Or maybe it’s the insanely articulate forehead wrinkles of Claude Lévi-Strauss. Marina Abramovic, Andy Warhol, Sartre, Vladimir Lenin, and Jay-Z have also gotten the Wonderbread treatment.
I’ll admit—her work communicated the exact opposite of what Korolczuk explained in her email when I first saw it. There was something wryly subversive about carving iconoclasts out of boring, conformist Wonderbread balls, their faces molded out of the great American equalizer—empty carbs. Maybe, I thought, it was a comment on consumption and consumerism, with the faces of great thinkers projected onto a lack of intellectual nutrition in our mainstream media diet.
But Korolczuk seems to have real reverence for bread. “When I moved to the States a few years ago, I found it interesting to see Wonderbread, the name suggesting a miracle, conveniently packaged and sliced, sitting on the shelf of the supermarket,” she writes. The idea came about, Korolczuk says, when she started reflecting on her own creative process and the incorporation of ideas from writers, philosophers, painters, photographers, and musicians.
“As I participate in this intellectual consumption, I wish to give pause and monumentalize the moment, bringing awareness to this experience,” Korolczuk explains. “Each figure has its own story and they reflect the amalgamation of ideas, some lofty and some lighter in spirit, but all equally important.”
And all equally suited for peanut butter and jelly.