Conchas (2018)

15’x2′; Series of 10 photos printed on 16’x24′ dish towels

In November 2017, after moving to Ann Arbor, MI I asked my friend Karinne to send me pan dulces from Berkeley, CA, intending for these Mexican pastries to be used in a project. Instead, they sat in the back of my fridge, half-forgotten for the better half of a year. Periodically, the image of the decaying bread would cross my mind, and finally, in May I pulled them out of their cold grave, surprised to see that they were barely molding.

I became intrigued by how the burden the thought of the neglected pan dulces weighed similarly on my conscious as questions about my Mexican-American identity. I wondered what might happen if I learned how to make one of these treats as a way to work through these questions. What might be discovered? What might remain inexplicable?

Fast-forward to June 2018, I asked my brother, who has been teaching himself how to bake a number of Latinx American desserts, to teach me how to make conchas. When asked where he learned, he responded by sending me a link to a Rick Bayless Youtube video. This left me wondering what does it mean for a Latinx individual (Joey) to “relearn” a Mexican cultural process (in this case making conchas) via a non-Latinx “expert” (Rick) and then teach it to another Latinx amiture (me)? Where is both the falsity and authenticity in this exchange? What is lost and what is reclaimed?

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