The Order of Potatoes

Åsa Sonjasdotter gives a lecture today, Thursday April 30, 15.00, at Kunstakademiet:

The presentation “A Potato Perspective on: The Order of Potatoes” is a rearrangement and actualisation of different presentations I’ve made on the subject over the last few years. In the presentation I will make available potato varieties that are prohibited for commercial circulation within the EU and present material on the historical journey that has led to this state of order.

The potatoes’ journey through Europe, from its first appearance as loot from Spanish Conquistadores’ raids in South America in the 1500s to its position today as genetically regulated plant material, contains many surprising details and conjunctions with major historical, political and economic transformations. Becoming an important foodstuff during industrialisation, the potato is one of the basic threads woven through the story of modern societal transformation.

Cultivated potato varieties are living historical material; they are carriers of information and knowledge from the past. Throughout history, the tubers have been bred to cater to our varying needs and desires, be it those of home-gardeners, small-scale farmers or corporate life sciences researchers. Some of this living history will be available during the exhibition since it takes place very appropriately during the potato-planting season; it will be possible for visitors to collect samples of potato varieties that still exist but have been outlawed for commercial circulation, planting or further distribution.

The handing-out of marginalized potato varieties is an act that increases, in real terms, the genetic diversity that is currently kept locked away in gene banks. It can at the same time be understood as a symbolic distribution, highlighting a matter of urgent importance to Europe: The marginalisation and criminalisation of what capital interests define as ‘disturbing elements’.

More about the project at: potatoperspective.

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