Drawing parallels between the use of bacteria and culture in traditional bread-making, and the self organising and generative condition of network art, Cultural_Capital is a transformative and distributive artwork in which a sour-dough starter is grown in the home, workplace or gallery, and cared for by curators. Installed in the kitchens (or other suitable place) in the gallery or non-gallery venue, the starter transforms over a period of seven to eight days into a mature starter that can be prepared and baked into bread. Seven or eight days after the starter has been installed in a venue, the curator organises a collective event at which portions of the finished dough are distributed to guests. Those guests receiving a share of the starter can choose whether to use it all to make a single loaf of bread; grow it and tend it ongoingly for a continuous supply of bread dough, or let it die. Some of the dough passes onto the curators at the next venue.

Sour dough-starters can be created from a range of organic material, such as potato skin, grapes or bread. They can be ‘self-generated’ by taking a small amount of raw dough and adding more flour to it. The starter used in Cultural_Capital is created out of wild yeast from the bacteria lactobacillo which is generally present in the local environment. Cultural_Capital is conceived as a touring artwork that accumulates bacteria and cultural capital from every venue in which it is installed. Theoretically, cultural capital (Bourdieu 1979/1984) is the social power collected around the producer, collector or owner of highly valued objects. Cultural capital turns ordinary objects into works of art and gives them ‘symbolic power’: it has its own currency and brings its own opportunities. At any point in the tour, the cultural capital of the sour-dough starter received by guests is equivalent to that retained by curators and that which is passed on to the next venue.

Cultural_Capital gives attention to the role of curator as carer. In their 2006 text ‘On Misanthropy’ Alex Galloway and Eugene Thacker note that’ [t]he act of curating not only refers to the selection, exhibition, and storage of artefacts, but it also means doing so with care, with particular attention to their presentation in an exhibit or catalogue. Both “curate” and “curator” derive from the Latin curare (to care), a word, which is itself closely related to cura (cure). Curate, care, cure’ (1). Throughout its transformative process the sour dough starter is in a very fragile state, and will die unless given regular attention. The curators at each venue are asked to care for the artwork: to try and keep it alive, and to ensure that it passes safely to the curators at the next venue.

Cultural_Capital was launched in Cornwall in March 2009. It is now in the care of curators.


To care for Cultural Capital contact Kate Southworth or Patrick Simons at

Curators' Documentation
26th February 2010 Ana Carvalho cared for the sour-dough starter in Portugal. and distributed the starter at an event which also celebrated 500 short stories written by Bronte Sisters on the blog(spot) Latido de Cachorro more    
1st December 2009 curator Zoe Shearman, Relational, Bristol cared for the sough dough starter during installation week of Arnolfini's Craftivism exhibition. (more...)  
19th September 2009 the sour dough starter was cared for by Ben Hyde at his bakery Trois Petits Pains in St Julien de Jonzy, France. (more....)  
During August 2009 Cultural Capital was part of ISEA2009 The Exhibition curated by Kathy Rae Huffman. (more....)   Kathy Rae Huffman
25th June 2009 Heather Lovelady and Laura Wild held an event with the community of Somewhere Else, Liverpool. (more....)  
28th May 2009 Joasia Krysa and
Geoff Cox
(KURATOR) distributed the starter at THE INFECTED SEMINAR. (more....)

May 15th 2009 Caroline Broadhurst organised lunch with her old colleagues on Friday and distributed the starter to them. (more....)


April 30th 2009 Alice Ladenburg distributed the starter at an event to celebrate her birthday. (more....)


April 14 2009 Michelle Kasprzak distributed the sour-dough at a dinner which was held to welcome Stelarc to Edinburgh. (more....)


3rd April 2009 Sarah Cook distributed the sour-dough starter on her journey to Edinburgh. (more....)


March 24th 2009 Beryl Graham distributed the sour-dough at an AHRC Research Training event on Digital Media/Curating. (more....)