ongoing since 2005
Sankt Ibb, Ven
About the project
The Potatoes’ Perspective departs from the exhausted soils of monoculture farm fields in a depopulated rural community of Sweden, for the reconnection to healing and nurturing practices across species and disciplines. The potato has become a cheap staple for global fast food chains and the processing industry, at the same time as it safeguards subsistence farmers and underpaid citizens. The plant originates in the Andes, where it has been cultivated for at least 6000 years. As potatoes became a staple on the ships of the triangular slave trade in the late 16th century, it spread to other continents. With the privatization and enclosure of land in the 17th century Europe, the plant became a lifesaver for those who lost their homestead: for those who were left to grow their food in ditches, on expensive rental plots or in the wasteland margins of the expanding cities. In the transition from subsistence farming to plantation management, the potato plant embodies the memory of a rupture in nurturing relations.
The stories emerging from this plant’s perspective, therefore, make possible the double act of tracing painful colonial and capitalizing memory as well as healing its wounds. At the same time and throughout such a process – potatoes remain a living matter that it is possible to touch and feel, nurture and get nurtured by. The potatoes’ perspective engages from the soil level into the archival memory of abandoned farming techniques, legal documents that criminalize peasant knowledge, and embodied stories of traditional plant varieties. Through redistribution of old cultivars and their stories, by breeding new varieties as well as new knowledge, the inquiry engages small holding farmers, urban gardeners, citizens without land, seed-savers and self-organized plant breeders.
About the artist
Åsa Sonjasdotter (b. 1966) is an artist, writer, and organizer living on the island of Ven in southern Sweden, and in Berlin, Germany. Her work aims at refiguring healing and nurturing practices across species and disciplines. She is currently a researcher in artistic practice at Valand Academy, the University of Gothenburg. She is a founding member of Nachbarschaftsakademi, a bottom-up learning site and a branch of Prinzessinnengarten, an urban garden in Berlin.