On the Commoning Practice of Cultivating Abundance
On the Commoning Practice of Cultivating Abundance
Åsa Sonjasdotter
6 June - 20 July 2024
Åsa Sonjasdotter addresses issues of ecological justice and activist-agricultural engagement in an artistic investigation dedicated to the participatory condition of cultivating agricultural abundance. Her film, Cultivating Abundance (2022), constituted as an open manifesto dedicated to the revival of collaborative farming methods, documents the critical position of farmers in Sweden towards the legislative demands for standardization of local agricultural production that impose conditions for stabilization and uniformity of grain plantation variety. Working with local farmers, such as Hans Larsson from Fulltofta, Sweden, but also with various institutions such as the Swedish Farmers' Association, Allkorn (allkorn.se), or the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences in Alnarp, Åsa Sonjasdotter observes how the law works against nature by conditioning farmers to produce distinct but stable and uniform plant organisms.

Documenting the tendencies to preserve old monoculture grain cultivation techniques that have existed since the 1880s and have been re-established in response to the modernization of grain cultivation methods, Åsa Sonjasdotter addresses the post-humanist hypothesis of correlating the coded genetic information of grain crops with human molecular genetics, the two systems subsisting through a shared human-plant memory bank. Tracing agricultural memory to reconfigure grain cultivation practices, Åsa Sonjasdotter identifies a split in the human-plant connection brought about by the introduction of modern, colonial farming methods that amplified existing authoritarian structures of cultivation. As a result of this split, the scientification of the plant environment has led to a demarcation of the practice of cultivation from the knowledge of cultivation, which remains centralized in politically or scientifically motivated institutions connected to the academic or industrial environment.

The installation The Kale Bed is so Called Because there is Always Kale in it (2023), created in collaboration with the photographer Mercè Torres Ràfols, proposes a return to traditional methods of growing cereals that involved a transfer of knowledge carried out in an organic manner and a non-conservative working technique, oriented towards the future, but anchored in the local context. With the establishment of global agricultural corporations, centralizing profits and dominating monoculture plantation fields, farming communities practicing traditional working methods remain marginalized. As a symbolic gesture of inclusion, Åsa Sonjasdotter brings into the exhibition space seeds from local farmers in Iasi who use traditional cabbage seed growing techniques, advocating for the 'communalisation' of an organic and participatory method of growing plants.

Curator: Cristina Moraru