Last weekend a group of 36 people with 3 to 6 baguettes wrapped around their face appeared suddenly at Onomichi Station in Hiroshima, Japan. They paraded down a street, through the city’s shopping district and even went on a ferry ride, all the while chanting “We are Bread Men. We are not human” in Japanese and English.
This was not the latest All Breads Matter protest. Rather, it was a performance art piece by 71-year old Japanese artist Tatsumi Orimoto called “Bread Man” and has been staged around the world over 200 times.
In the early 70s Orimoto spent time in New York working as Nam June Paik’s assistant and taking part in the Fluxus movement and the performance art pieces of John Cage, Yoko Ono and Joseph Beuys. Around 1991 a defining moment for Orimoto occurred when he learned that in the Bible ‘bread means body.’ That’s what gave him the idea for Bread Man. “If Marcel Duchamp could call a toilet a fountain then bread means not food: it is sculpture.”
Orimoto keeps what he calls his own bible: large yellow binders packed with postcards of his past performances. He staged Bread Man in Turkey, Nepal, Germany, London and he’s been chased by homeless people in New York and thrown out of a restaurant in Moscow for wasting food. But nothing has stopped him from wrapping at least 6 baguettes around his head in various configurations and exploring the world, challenging people to accept him.