7-10 June, 2019. I’ve been invited to ‘Agri/Cultures Seed-Links’, a three-day exhibition at Svalbard Seed Vault, a global seed bank on a Norwegian island near the Arctic circle. Artists will present works that articulate the relationship between biological & cultural diversity, with a particular focus on seeds. With plant species disappearing, seeds are genetic resources for adaptation to climate change. Svalbard’s goal is to store and protect samples of every type of seed from every seed collection in the world.
On 10 June, after the exhibition & discussion, artists will deposit their works in Svalbard’s vault, along with a new shipment of seeds. The art is a complementary narrative to the vault’s one million seeds, and the interment will be “a reminder that seeds live within vast webs of interrelations—ecological, socio-technical and cultural—and that these connections are worthy of celebration and preservation”.
I will present photographs from ‘The Iraqi Seed Project’, a documentary project about agriculture & cultural autonomy: A region in northern Mesopotamia, Iraqi Kurdistan is home to mountains, steppes, and pastures that were part of the Fertile Crescent: the birthplace of agriculture—and, indeed, civilization—where ancient farmers nurtured a wealth of crops that would become staples throughout the world. Now, after years of war and sanctions, the country cannot feed itself. Markets are filled with foreign monocrops, heirloom fruits are disappearing, and fields are fallow. Imported greenhouses collapse in the wind, and the next generation of farmers rejects their inherited land.
I’m happy for the opportunity to include Iraq’s story in a global dialogue about food security, threatened ecologies, and regional identity.