It may seem pretty gruesome, but you could literally take a bite out of a human foot if you visited this bakery in Bangkok, because one of the bakers there got a taste for highly original food art, unaware that it would very quickly become the thing everyone wanted to eat.
Kittiwat Unarrom has studied fine arts and mastered paintings, sculptures and other media. But it wasn’t until he went back to his roots that the 32-year-old finally found fame and a real passion for his work. Since 2006, Kittiwat has used dough as his medium, making a name for himself with his edible creations molded to look like bloody body parts, including heads, arms, feet and legs.
“My family is in the bakery business and I learned to bake when I was about 10,” says Kittiwat. “I want to speak out about my religious beliefs and dough can say it all. Baking human parts can show the audience how transient bread, and life, is. Also, my bread is still bread no matter how it looks.” To say Kittiwat’s creations are realistic looking would be an understatement. In fact, they’re so lifelike they look like they were swiped from a forensics lab.
Dismembered human body parts covered in blood are packaged like fresh food found in supermarkets. To achieve this authentically horrific aesthetic, Kittiwat spent a great deal of time studying anatomy and visiting forensic museums while at the same time working to improve the taste of his artworks.
“The first series was edible, but they were not delicious. And I don’t want art to just be an object of art; I want the audience to feel involved. I tried hard to make the artworks more and more flavorful,” says Kittiwat.
In 2008, Kittiwat baked fresh heads for the audience to eat at his Body and the Dead exhibition — the tiny heads smelled and tasted fantastic — though it was an odd sensation if you allowed yourself to look into their eyes before biting into them.
More recently, Kittiwat and his friend exhibited their sculptures and paintings in a show called Art Now at a clothing shop in Bangkok’s Siam Theatre in May this year, prior to the building being set alight during the city’s recent unrest.
“I want to experiment and think art shouldn’t only exist in galleries or museums. We got good feedback until the fire. The shop wasn’t in the burnt area but the smoke devastated most of our works.”
Kittiwat is now taking a break from his art and is working full time as a baker at his family’s factory in Ratchaburi, about an hour west of Bangkok.
“When my brother and sister passed away, I had to jump in and run the family’s bakery business. At first I thought I wouldn’t get to work on my art again. Surprisingly, every day when I bake, ideas keep coming to me on how to use dough to make art. My next works will not be related to the human body, I want to do something different. It will take me quite a long time before my next show, though,” he says.
In the meantime, don’t bother making the trip to Ratchaburi to buy a freshly baked severed head for your boss. The factory produces just ordinary bread, as Kittiwat is firm that his art is not for commercial purposes. THese may not be the loaves or buns that you had imagined buying when you set off, but you can be certain that the kids will love them. It takes all sorts to keep the art world interesting, and it will be fascinating to see what this amazing artist conjures up next. I can hardly wait.