Sowing the Seeds for the Future
As a multimedia video, sound and space installation, Sowing the Seeds for the Future weaves three narratives into a “science-fictional poetry”.
The starting point is the history and activities of ICARDA (International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas), whose research programme and data collection in Aleppo, Syria, was threatened with destruction due to the ongoing war.
In 2011/12, various employees were involved in the exfiltration of seeds from the war zone in Syria under the most difficult and dangerous conditions in order to secure the remaining stocks in new centres in Lebanon and Morocco.
Part of this action to preserve the seeds was also the first repatriation in 2015 of seed samples from the Svalbard Global Seed Vault for duplication. The bomb-proof and permafrost-situated facility provides a genetic archive of about one third of the world’s seeds, which can be accessed in case of regional and global crises, wars and climate disasters. A material back-up copy, which in the face of apocalyptic scenarios of world events is intended to guarantee the genetic diversity of plants as well as the nutrition of mankind.
ICARDA owns one of the world’s largest collections of old or wild seed varieties, which it continuously plants and archives. ICARDA’s research goal is to prevent hunger crises as a result of droughts and other disasters. In the face of rising global temperatures, water shortages and new pathogens, these seed varieties are becoming important building blocks for science to rediscover and apply the characteristics and survival skills they have acquired over thousands of years. ICARDA does not practise genetic manipulation and provides its seeds to farmers and scientists without financial compensation, on condition that no patents are taken out on them.
In Sowing the Seeds for the Future the images from the research institute are interwoven with a conversation with the natural philosopher Andreas Weber, who deals with the idea of unconditional reciprocity and paraphrases this with the concept of “edibility”. In addition, another fictional voice conveys the perspective of the stored seeds.
Thus, in this video project, the narrative modes mix and merge, culminating in a kind of “science-fictional poetry”. For science fiction is the place where the boundaries between fiction and political and scientific reality are blurred and new worlds can be experimented with.
Dominique Koch is a Basel and Paris based visual artist, understanding her works as “thinking laboratories” that merge different fields of research resulting in hybrid entanglements and unlikely intellectual encounters. Solo exhibitions include CAN—Centre d’art Neuchâtel, Rinomina Paris, Centre Culturel Suisse Paris and upcoming at MASI Lugano. Her works won several awards and were presented in various group exhibitions at, among others, CCCB Barcelona, STATE Studio Berlin, Shedhalle Zürich, Istituto Svizzero di Roma, Lagos Biennial II, A Tale of a Tub Rotterdam, Frankfurter Kunstverein, Swissnex San Francisco, Kunsthalle Basel, EKKM Tallinn, Copenhagen Contemporary, and Kunsthalle Mainz.
Supported by Abteilung Kultur Basel-Stadt and Saly Frommer Foundation