April 28, 2018 - May 22, 2018
Opening Reception 7-10pm April 28, 2018
“One day of good work; one world of good neighbors; a heart of goodwill; and a good appetite.”
-Bertolt Brecht, The Bread Kind Learns to Bake, 1941
In October 1941, Bertolt Brecht submitted a script to MGM Studios. In it, a Chicago businessman hires a poor migrant to bake bread, the success of which allows the bakery to grow into a culinary empire. In restructuring the business the migrant baker is fired, and the Bread King enlists a team of chemists to inspect the crust of the migrant’s delicious bread and recuperate her original recipe. With a pinch of realpolitik and a dash of proletarian moralism, the Bread King comes to realize that a good loaf of bread requires more than flour, water, and yeast. To almost no one’s surprise, Brecht’s script was promptly rejected.
For his exhibition “The Bread King Learns to Bake,” David Weldzius uses Brecht’s estrangement effect as a point of departure in developing new works that examine migration, labor, and land occupation. In a large-scale painting, Weldzius reproduces an unfinished quilt that his great-grandmother stitched from red, white, and blue work garments after immigrating from Lithuania to Chicago; in a series of ceramic works, Weldzius distills the lyrics of popular labor songs in order to draw comparison between the proletariat’s alienation from production in the twentieth century and the precariat’s alienation from dignified employment in the twenty first; while in a short video work, Weldzius ruminates on Brecht’s influence on new wave cinema proceeding the wildcat strikes and student movement of May 1968.
In addition to these works, Weldzius will exhibit reproductions of bronze plaques used in the City of Philadelphia to demarcate property and prevent adverse possession. In doing so, the artist aims to draw attention to the condo developments that will soon encroach the North, East, and South easements of Pilot+Projects, and highlight the accelerated rate of development in Kensington, commonly to the detriment of local communities.
Lastly, for the duration of the exhibition, legal documents related to the ongoing dispute, Catholic Workers v. Mayrone LLC, will be on display for public viewing. In 1988, the Catholic Workers of Philadelphia converted an abandoned lot near Pilot Projects into a community garden, eventually gaining ownership through adverse possession. On May 1, the land will be returned to the original owner by court order. The artist is optimistic that this case study will call to mind the surplus of disused land surrounding Pilot Projects—inviting residents to imagine a social-ecology that nurtures the reproduction of commonwealth above the reproduction of luxury housing.
David Weldzius (b. 1980, Evergreen Park, IL) is an artist based in Philadelphia. He has exhibited at David Kordansky Gallery, Stephen Cohen Gallery, LACE, MAK Center, and the California Museum of Photography among other venues. Weldzius was a 2012 artist fellow with the Terra Foundation of American Art in Giverny, France, and a 2014 recipient of a Durfee Foundation Grant. Concurrent with his exhibition at Pilot, Weldzius’ photo-essay “Slouching Towards Bethlehem: Four Meditations on the Old and New Spirits of Capitalism” will be published in XTRA Contemporary Arts Quarterly (www.x-traonline.org). Taken together, his pictures and words consider globalization’s effect on the “forgotten men and women” of the present day.