March 18, 2000
by Panino Bandito
Bread sculpture on the National Mall, Washington, DC, looking toward the Washington Monument.
|The third official Bread Bandits Action created a flat sculpture made
of white bread slices at the National Mall, in front of Smithsonian Castle,
Washington, DC. The sculpture itself measured approximately 5 feet by 7
feet, and used fifteen loaves of Wonderbread. Construction was completed
swiftly, and we began distributing handouts to passersby. For the first
part of the morning which was cold (low 40s), few people ventured over
to us. But when a Bread Bandit assistant arrived wearing a sandwich board
sign inscribed with the Bread Bandits motto: "Less Wonderbread, more
wonder and more bread," traffic increased considerably. Comments were generally
positive, although some people "didn't understand" and wondered "Is this
what's passing for art these days?"
To secure this prominent location in what is essentially a National Park, the Bread Bandits applied for, and received a permit for this action. We felt it was necessary to secure official "permission" to hold a guerrilla art action because it really sucks to have to be told to pick up hundreds of bread slices on short notice. I was gratified that a park ranger actually came by and asked to see our permit. We generally like to abandon the bread at the site, but our permit stipulated that we clean up after our "demonstration." We would have been irritated if there had been no site inspection and we had to clean up!
Permits are available only for "political demonstrations"--art does not qualify--so it became necessary to stress the political meaning of the work. While an anti-corporate message is present in Bread Bandits Actions, it is by no means the only message we wish to present, including purely aesthetic concerns and the social purpose of creating authentic street life in a town dominated by federal purpose.
The permit process itself was not a big deal, although it was necessary to appeal an initial rejection by the Park Service. Our first permit stressed the "artistic nature" of the action. Once we learned that only political demonstrations were allowed permits, a special letter of appeal was filed with the Park Program Chief. The permit was then readily granted.
This was the largest Bread Bandits Action to date, and we regard it as a success although it fell short of our original goals in terms of size and visibility. It was an excellent study for a much larger action, which is still in the planning stages.
Bread Bandit David C. wearing the sandwich board inscribed with the Bread Bandits' motto: "Less Wonderbread, more bread and more wonder."