A project by Elena Bellantoni
Curated by Benedetta Carpi De Resmini

March – Decembre, 2019

On The Breadline is a project by Elena Bellantoni winner of the 4th edition of Italian Council (2018) and promoted by Wunderbar Cultural Projects. On the Breadline is an itinerant project developed over a year and travels along the ‘bread road’ of 4 countries: Italy, Greece, Serbia and Turkey.

The Breadline that the artist follows indicates both the bread line and the poverty line that marked the countries involved in the ‘bread revolts’. Indeed, bread does not only represent the moment of conviviality between different peoples, but is linked to the popular uprisings and protest movements that united many populations in the name of justice and equality. Belgrade, Istanbul, Athens and Palermo mark the artist’s path, supported by the Italian Cultural Institutes of Belgrade, Athens and Istanbul. In addition, a network of local cultural realities and curators was present in the residency countries, including Beo Project (Belgrado) and K-Gold Tempory Gallery (Atene), the Fondazione Ignazio Buttitta and the Eco Museo Urbano Mare Memoria Viva (Palermo).

During her research in each city, the artist created, together with women’s choirs, a performance accompanied by the protest song Bread & Roses. The text originates from a 1912 speech by Rose Schneiderman, a US socialist feminist leader, declaimed during a major strike by women workers. A different song each time was translated into the language of origin of the countries involved, following a musical score created by Sandra Cotronei. The element of chorus and bread are essential because they become the instrument to narrate the social and political uprisings that are in the DNA of each country, particularly those countries historically and geographically linked to the Mediterranean.


The final outcome of the project consisted in the production of a four-channel video work that became part of the permanent collection of multimedia works of the Istituto Centrale per la Grafica and it was also presented in a solo exhibition in 2020. Additionally, On the Breadline included the final publication of a catalogue, published by Quodlibet, which recounts the journey through the voices of the artist and the curator Benedetta Carpi De Resmini with the two art historians Stefano Chiodi and Riccardo Venturi.

If it is true that man does not live by bread alone, I will try to push myself on the ‘breadline’ and give voice to this line I will follow. My personal ‘song’ will take on the rhythm of an old typewriter, on which I will transcribe my logbook day by day. My notes will echo the notes sung, in four different languages, by the choirs. For me, artistic work is born of encounter: in this case with the territory – whose signs and traces I will follow – and with an all-women choir. I have chosen to make this project exclusively female because I believe that today more than ever there is a need to take the floor and give voice. I believe that this ‘poetic gesture’ is necessary, not only to recount a long past of struggles and protests, but also to speak deeply about our present.” Elena Bellantoni says.