Baratter les sols pierreux (Churning the rocky soils) is a research-based and collaborative project inspired by two now lost traditions related to my heritage: domestic butter-making as a feminist practice, and communal ovens as a community-strengtening practice. Dairy was a space that belonged to women. This artisanal activity required a great deal of time and physical effort but provided them with an independent income. At the turn of the 20th century, the paradigm shifted. Politicians became aware that butter was a profitable commodity when exported to Britain and men took over. This research in the archives brought me back unexpectedly to parts of my family history. My grandmother handed me down her century-old beans cooking pot and told me that, as a child, the baker would collect the stoneware pots from each family, in exchange for a few pennies, to bake them together all night. Her generation put an end to this tradition, as for the first time each family could afford the comfort of its own electric oven.
During my research, a symmetry emmerged within how these two traditions were transformed and swallowed by the economic system: the making of butter evolved from the individual to the collective, while the cooking of bread evolved from the collective to the individual. Both traditions were invisibilised and visually undocumented since only the objects used remain. I was unable to find visual representations of the gestures and people involved. Facing this lack of visual material, I elaborated fictional gestures by creating a symbolic process merging both traditions. I created and fabricated a contraption that would allow me to make raw clay bricks, the basic material for building community ovens, using gestures specific to the process of butter churning . On these bricks, I printed words pulled from my research and a series of conversations held in Granby, CA. The bricks were used to stimulate group exchanges and were given to participants as gifts.
The words RYTHM, SACRIFICES, CAPITALISM and LEGITIMACY emerged from my research and individual interviews with community members in Granby, CA. These four bricks were used to start a group conversation with these participants. From this group conversation emerged the words SELFLESSNESS, VULNERABILITY, FIGHT, COMMON ENEMY, and DISSENSUS.