Bra bröd/ Good Bread

Media: My focus will be multidisciplinary, with emphasis on performance and social practice, with artifacts in photography, drawing, sculpture,  and video. Media will include homemade and store bought loafs of bread, knäckebröd, grocery store items, locally sourced grain when possible, and vintage textiles and sewing notions (yarn, thread, fabrics) from Erikshjälpen Second Hand. / MV


Project Summary:
“My starting point was the search for my identity in foreign places, in places where I am estranged from myself.” - Rirkrit Tiravanija
As a maker, I discover myself in the estrangement made available by the unfamiliar. Whether that be unfamiliar places, tastes, or experiences. Det Goda Brödet investigates the social and communal nature of food through various iterations surrounding bread. The project will humbly approach the community of Värnamo to produce several artistic platforms to exchange stories, recipes, and trust–with bread as the catalyst. Bread is not only a key economic and cultural signifier of identity, but bread is downright biblical. They irony is I neither bake nor worship with any proficiency. It is not for lack of skill or faith, but for lack of patience.

Det Goda Brödet welcomes collaboration by asking residents of Värnamo to bake with me–and me, asking to deserve to be baked with. The initial outcomes will be a series of modest photographic portraits of people, kitchens, and bread. These images will seed a petite brödbiblioteket or brödarkiv, combined with bread recipes, new and old, from local citizens. Not dissimilar to how women would collect and share small volumes of recipes in a church cookbook. In return, the results and related artifacts will be shared with contributors.

As my knowledge of Värnamo strengthens, I will create an interactive public embroidery experiment of knäckebröd with yarn and other sewing notions. The surface of the knäckebröd lends itself to text and image needlework, with its organic grid of indentations. The happening, in a shared public space, welcomes everyone to contribute by embroidering personal epitaphs on the knäckebröd while sharing conversation and coffee. The results will be documented and exhibited.

In conclusion of my proposed time in Värnamo, I will take several walks through the city, wearing shoes made from loafs of bread, tentatively titled En Brödvandring. The walks, in an oblique way, reference “walking in someone else’s shoes”, while meditating on cultural perspectives surrounding identity, other than one’s own. / MV


”I spent much of my adult life looking for good bread, the bread my grandmother baked for my mom. Not out of some health-conscious or grand moral desire, but simply for taste... a taste of cultural identity. My mother spoke a great deal about the homemade limpa she grew up with. The project in Värnamo will address the personal journey, and almost mythologic relation to various breads. I wish to collaborate with Värnamo residents, and the Småland landscape, to form socially oriented and performative artworks with bread as a primary focus. These interactions will not be heavily scripted, but will be multi-faceted with several tiers of collaborative development."

- Melissa Vandenberg


During the Distancio site visit in November of last year, I was fortunate to meet the people and town of Värnamo. Everyone was generous with their knowledge of Värnamo, past and present. This was my second trip to Sweden, but first to Småland. Being of Swedish descent, I am grateful to see Värnamo through the eyes of long-term residents.

During the week-long stay I visited cultural venues throughout Värnamo with the hospitality of Eva Törn, Monica Lembke, and Cecilia Gustavsson. With their insight, I spent meaningful time at Gummifabriken, Apladalen, with Erik Lundh at Källemo, and several private homes and studios in the region. Another highlight was the Bruno Mathsson Center and a private tour of his residence in Tånnö. I viewed the Folkform: Production Novellas exhibition at Vandalorum and toured the Småland Konstarkiv housed there thanks to Linda Larsén. The stay concluded with my artist talk at Vandalorum. / MV

Bra bröd
(sv) >>>

Good Bread (eng) >>>

Credit: Photograph by Erica Chambers Photography
Born and educated in Detroit, Melissa is a multidisciplinary artist living in Eastern Kentucky. Her practice explores national identity, folk art, ancestry, immigration, and the perception of a “homeland”. She gravitates to everyday materials like matches, fabric, stickers, wood, and domicile objects. Her work has been exhibited in Canada, Germany, Luxembourg, Iceland, Sweden, Poland, and throughout the United States. Melissa received a BFA from Center for Creative Studies in Detroit, and a MFA from Southern Illinois University. She has been the recipient of various grants including a Kentucky Foundation for Women Grant, the Al Smith Fellowship, Great Meadows Foundation Grant, and was shortlisted for the Luxembourg Art Prize in 2016. Melissa is an Associate Professor of Art at Eastern Kentucky University.

Melissa is represented by Maus Contemporary in Birmingham, Alabama.

Artist website >>>
Realisation of project, May 17- July 17,  2020. 
New dates due to pandemic June-October >>>

Artist Talk: November 28th, 2019, 18.00 Vandalorum, Värnamo
In collaboration with Smålands Konstförening. Part of the ArtTalks Series.
Research stay in Värnamo: November 18 - 25, 2019


Melissa Vandenberg - Rui Mourão - Martinka Bobrikova and Oscar de Carmen - Mark Rautenbach  >>>

DISTANCIO CURATOR: Anna Viola Hallberg >>>

With support from: Region Jönköpings län with Mullsjö, Gnosjö, Tranås and Värnamo municipalities.     Curator: Anna Viola Hallberg   Contact: curator @