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Agropolis

Artistic interventions in a scientific exhibition
 
Through a series of artistic interventions, Agropolis attempts to touch upon the social and political significances of agriculture as seen through the unique viewpoint of artists. During the past decade artists have returned to dealing with agriculture and sustainability, while combining a critical view of human history and predictions of the future. An important term in this field is the Anthropocene Era – a time in which humanity’s influence on the world and on nature has been so significant that it has led to ecological disasters. Agriculture plays a central role in the efforts and thought processes directed at saving the world. Many consider a return to community agriculture and to traditional methods a way to preserve seed diversity and protect the food and animal species that are becoming extinct. Tomer Sapir’s work, Research for the Full Crypto-Taxidermical Index (Mother of All Wheat), 2016, touches upon this subject through an artwork composed of artificially engineered seeds he created. Hila Amram’s work, Colony Collapse Disorder, made in collaboration with a bee colony, poetically presents the bee community’s disappearance from the Western world and the possibility of its return.

Hila Amram, Colony Collapse Disorder, mixed media, everyday objects and beeswax, 2013
 
The return to community agriculture also has an economic aspect, related to the widespread protests that flared up throughout the world in recent years following the economic crises. In Israel, for instance, farmers are forced to destroy crops and shut down farms due to their inability to cover the high costs of cultivation and mediation. This process began in the 1990’s, with the reduction in government subsidies for agriculture in favor of focusing on imports. Another example is the far-reaching consequences of using genetically engineered seeds and the pesticides tailored for them, such as the Roundup Formula of the US-based Monsanto Company. The substance produced by the corporation is controversial from a health point of view. Also, it kills everything that is not genetically engineered and does not allow a return to growing unmodified seeds, generating dependence on the corporation’s expensive products. When crops do not grow as expected, it causes severe economic crises for farmers across the globe. At a time when money and power are concentrated in the hands of a few, community and urban gardening of food is a simple and comparatively cheap independent economy resource. Artists throughout the world, side-by-side with farmers; agronomists; social activists and architects – all play an important role in generating entrepreneurship and platforms of community and urban agriculture and in demonstrating support for farmers. Sharon Glazberg’s video work, The Peach Orchard, 2014, presents a protest performed in a closed peach orchard while her interactive installation, Untitled 2016, lyrically refers to the fragile connection between man and the land. The project by the Onya Collective, Every Blade of Grass, 2016, showcases unique Jerusalem-based grassroots communities through a participatory sculptural garden and a series of experiential study meetings.
 
Finally, agriculture also has a political aspect, especially in Israel where the connection to the land is uniquely charged. Some claim that the founding myth regarding the Jewish pioneers who worked the stony ground and made it blossom is blind to communities such as Palestinian and Bedouin farmers who had worked the land for years using traditional methods. Even today, agricultural lands in Israel serve as metaphorical battle grounds as whoever works the land is considered its owner, both in the legal and the symbolic sense. The forestation work carried out by the Jewish National Fund throughout the years is often brought as an example of planting intended to claim territories and mark them as national lands. Another example raised in this context is Israel’s use of crop dusting drones, allegedly to destroy crops in lands cultivated by Palestinians or Bedouins. Israel defines these actions as security measures or to counteract what it claims is ‘illegal seizure of lands’. The painting Maya, 2014, by Fatma Shanan Dery, who grew up in the Druze village of Julis, refers to the loss of personal space and the dissolution of territories. Nadav Assor, in his video work Ground Effect 2016, examined the desert line in the Negev region where the Bedouins have been struggling for recognition of their lands for years. Assor “plows” the land with his feet, while a drone watches him from above. Ben Hagari’s work Fresh, 2014, takes place in a greenhouse in which a man made of vegetables is studied and examined in laboratory conditions. The work points to the fear of the other and the lack of compassion in modern life, hinting that not everything is under scientific control.
 
Date Created: 08/06/16
Date Updated: 08/06/16