BAK basis voor aktuele kunst Utrecht
research, exhibitions and performative conference as part of
Fellowship programme 2017- 2018
Fellowhip research trajectory
After 30 years living in Syria, at the head of the research team that, together with local farmers, was experimenting with the participatory genetic evolution of cereals, in 2013 geneticist Salvatore Ceccarelli is forced to abandon his research due to the outbreak of the civil war.
Few years before he managed to bring with him a small quantity of seeds to Italy, hundreds and hundreds of varieties, harvested and reproduced by Syrian farmers.
Those very same seeds were planted all over Italy and whithin a few years the practice of seed-mixing and participatory genetic evolution started to spread more and more shaking the cultural certainties tied to the concepts of monoculture, uniformity and genetic selection.
The revolutionary potential of evolutionary populations lies within the ability to respond ethically to the major agroecological challenges of the present: ensuring food security despite climate-related uncertainties, promoting agrobiodiversity in order to improve the nutritional characteristics of the crops themselves and giving control of the seeds back to the farmers thus creating strong participatory and commoning dynamics.
Evolutionary populations have the ability to evolve over time, to adapt to climate and soil changes, leaving it to the earth to choose the varieties to grow. This agricultural choice lends itself to becoming a metaphor on how to welcome diversity without prejudice, an idea capable of subverting existing power hierarchies.
Cultivating the idea of evolutionary population entails making a basic cultural choice, simple and revolutionary, that of escaping the logic of having control over nature, of uniformity and monoculture and embracing the concepts of intraspecies hybridization, contamination, circulation and complexity.
The installation reassembles, according to a design that symbolically refers to the complexity of nature, hundreds of spikes of evolutionary population wheat both hard and soft grown, coltivati in Utrecht, grown in Utrecht, on the terrace of the new Bak building, as the first verification of the adaptability of evolutionary populations to the environmental conditions of the Netherlands.