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This Grotto Breathes

Zoë Schneider
August 22 – September 26, 2020

THIS GROTTO BREATHES: In the fifteenth century Nero’s Domus Aurea, a forgotten underworld palace was rediscovered beneath the streets of Rome. The rooms were ornately decorated with frescos, mosaics, and abundant gold leaf. In awe, artists would visit the site, becoming heavily influenced by the spectacle. Deeming the ruin ‘grottesca’ or ‘of the cave’, the imagery and word would eventually morph into the contemporary ‘grotesque’.(1) Noticing that works depicting fat or transgressive bodies are often categorized as grotesque I decided to appropriate the root of the word (grotto-esque) to imagine a grotto made of squishy adipose-like bread. This Grotto Breathes is an immersive exhibition; imagery of cheap carbohydrates like bread and potato chips complicate understandings of fatness, food, and the modern-day understanding of the word grotesque. Simultaneously beguiling and threatening(2), we cannot help but be drawn to the grotesque. This murky fascination serves as the catalyst from which to renegotiate understandings of fatness through the architecture and slippery meaning of the grotesque (grotto-esque).

1,2 Squire, Michael. “Fantasies so varied and bizarre”: The Domus Aurea, the Renaissance, and the “grotesque”’, in M. Dinter and E. Buckley (eds.), The Blackwell Companion to the Age of Nero (Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell), pp. 449. 2012.


ZOE SCHNEIDER: holds an MFA from the University of Saskatchewan (2018), and a BFA from the Alberta University of the Arts (formerly ACAD) (2009), and is based in Regina, Treaty 4 Territory, Saskatchewan. Working in sculpture and installation to critically examine the complexity of fat identity, Schneider considers topics including the expanding body, the body under restriction and surveillance, obsession in diet culture, the medical industry and the fat body, inherited food values, and societal confusion around food. Expansion, accumulation, restriction, and shrinkage are referenced through material explorations with bread dough, mortar, and silicone.

This exhibition has been generously funded by the Saskatchewan Arts Board.

Participatory Bread making video, produced by the artist – can be viewed

Want to make bread along with Zoë? Find her special recipe: HERE