DAIRY SPA for ECOLOGICAL COMMUNION
in the PLEASURES and FILFTH of CHEESE MAKING
Sottochiesa, Valtallegio BG, Italy / 2019
This work is a prototype for a processing facility in modern regenerative cheesemaking. The simple, open-air plant offers the pleasures of making cheese in a liquid exchange, humbly inviting humans into new practices of ecological communion. Care for the milk and its microbes joins with care for the body joins with care for the built environment of the processing facility. Treatments include foot massage for curd cutting, face mask for straining whey, and steam bath for warming after laying cheese to rest in the cold wet of the Grotta dei Partigiani. The liberatory gay dairy spa endeavors to hybridize across modern and traditional production modalities, to accept the limitations of both with grace, and to whisper of new, powerfully nourishing relational logics for commercial food processing.
Currently accepting investors to partner in construction of permanent facility.
You enter the ovarian palace from below, rising into a heavy mass that hovers on thick piers over the water. Algae creeps up the faces of the piers. Sea water climbs capillary passageways, wending their interiority. In the front hall. From the water in Salt crystals bloom from walls baked warm by a fire lit on the floor in the center of the room. Salt shards are harvested and brought into the next room where a biofilm sheen coats the walls, glinting as it catches the light. A barrel just finished brewing is poured out on the ground, flowing over the wooden floorboards, pickling again the planks to a deep glow and percolating out through the concrete slab below. The salt shards go in the emptied barrel, ready for sparking the next batch. In the bathing room beyond, vegetables bob in warm water, eager for you scrubbing hands. You disrobe, rinse, and slip in to pick up the scrubby brush. The rising steam kisses the meats dangling over head with humidity. Perimeter shelves stock dough rising too. The floor mosses catch the drips in their velvety folds. Full with heat, you glide towards the next room, cold feet on a hard iced floor. You are handed a slice of chilled orange as you cross the threshold. Perimeter shelves stock fresh cheeses settling into their new skins. Hands reach out to flip a few cheeses and pull up another bucket of ocean to dump into the plunge pool. You take in the flesh of the orange and the twist the peel into the pool, where your feet dangle between floating citrus and the days catch of anchovies. Chilled to the bone and ready for your next cycle of heat, warm up by the candlelit prayer service dance party in the fruit stomping room for the wines and vinegars, or pull rocks from below the entry room fire to bake in the birch sauna room where some toasts crisp for lunch, or in the anteroom of the roaring clay oven where a few more loaves just went in. Finished, back in the front room, rest by the fire, sip a cup of tea and nibble on the fruits of your labor. Enjoy the music of small flute and the water dripping. Close your eyes.
Everywhere across the built environment, and everywhere across the food system, the concerns of ecology, beauty, and justice mat together.
"The taoist butchers cut draws no blood".
The microbial spa cathedral has no doors.