PAIN is the tandem of the artist Elena Gallen and the photographer Nerea López. An experimental project in which we create everyday objects in bread, ephemeral and biodegradable.

We can go back to the time of the creation of the Valley of the Kings in ancient Egypt to find the first scenes of bread making. Bread is the most basic form of human nutrition. Cheap, accessible and still unexplored beyond its culinary use, at PAIN we use flour as a fundamental material to create organic design furniture, everyday objects and sculptural pieces.


“Why am I ephemeral, O Zeus?” says Beauty / I do not make beautiful, says Zeus, but the ephemeral.” (Goethe, The Seasons)

Bread becomes for us an exotically familiar creative territory, where we experiment with the creation of everyday objects of an ephemeral and biodegradable sculptural character in baked flour that leave no trace in the environment. In this particular sense, the choice of material does seem to take us back to the times in which the piece was created and serves as a metaphor for the digital-native generation: the piece itself is not durable or preservable in time, it is created and discarded, preserving its memory through the photographs we take of the objects and then share on our profile on social networks.

Our objects often seek a striking contrast between the natural and the artificial, as we rarely see organic matter taking the form of industrially produced objects such as chairs, lamps or design tables. In addition to everyday and dysfunctional objects that refer us to interior design and that have a direct correlation with the home and everyday life, looking for inspiration those objects that have been accompanying us during these last post-pandemic months -in which the home has become for us, more than ever, shelter and playground-, and that we have decided to reinterpret with a certain naturalistic and surrealist touch. On the other hand, we have also developed sculptural objects with a clear interest in the forms and the aesthetic function they can acquire.

The output of the project -both for the ephemeral nature of the project and for the post-pandemic historical context in which it has been developed- has been that of the exhibition through social networks, in particular Instagram. In social networks, we know that immediacy reigns and the value of the images we see, in most cases, does not have much to do with the work itself but to the way in which it is shared, communicated and received by the public. Who and how the photographs are shared and the impression they make at first glance is as remarkable and determining in today’s fast-culture as the process or the concept behind it.

It is therefore the value of the resulting image, and not the piece itself, that can be considered the work itself. With this in mind, the photographs we produce are not documentary in nature, but artistic: when we photograph them, the aim is that each piece stands out as much as possible and at the same time, its functionality is recognizable. In the images, very careful and aesthetic, we try to enhance the volumes and textures through the use of light, the setting, the composition, the framing, etc…



PAIN - pieza de arte



It is common in art, that the material used gives us clues of the time in which the work was created, that is, contemporary artists tend to make use of plastic, fiberglass and other synthetic materials that did not exist in antiquity. However, the commitment to the use of natural and organic matter expels us from the timeline, placing us in an alternative and discontinuous space-time.

Although we could focus on the use of organic and biodegradable material as an extension of the environmental defense that began to be seen in the art world in the 1960s, the interest we have in it has even more to do with the fact that it is an ephemeral material.

During the confinement, the moment in which this project was conceived, the feeling of impermanence was exacerbated in society as a whole, in the face of a collective crisis that in the most alarmist versions prophesied -in the purest science fiction style- that the pandemic could jeopardize our survival as a species. In the face of a scenario of global health, social and economic uncertainty with few historical precedents, it seemed interesting to focus on the creation of impermanent sculptural objects whose transience in time could be comparable to our own as individual beings in this uncertain new paradigm.


Although we seek the optimal survival of the pieces created through photographs we produce, the proposal by a curator to put some of the objects for sale as part of an art and craft project, and taking into account the possible future exhibition purposes of our work, we are interested in researching a possible method of medium-term conservation of objects made of bread. A task that is not easy because fungal spores attack easily, especially in humid conditions and the pieces have to be discarded quickly. Therefore, one of the phases of the residency would be to experiment to find a method of preserving bread, given the difficulty of preserving organic matter to prolong its useful life.


The pieces we have developed so far cannot be described as ‘food art’, because although they are apparently on the border or intersection between art and food, not only are they not edible, but the flour is for us a material of choice with an experimental and conceptual purpose, but in no case determines its ultimate purpose, nor does it intend to enclose the work in the sphere of the culinary.