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Artists Find Creative Ways to Raise Food Insecurity Awareness - PlantBot Genetics

Thursday, February 24, 2022 11:26 AM | ecoartspace (Administrator)

Wendy DesChene and Jeff Schmuki, Monsantra Plant Bots (2019)

Artists Find Creative Ways to Raise Food Insecurity Awareness

While it may be strange to think of food insecurity as a basis for art, the works in Food Justice reveal barriers and injustices in food access.

by Anna Mirzayan

January 17, 2022 for Hyperallergic

PITTSBURGH — Food Justice: Growing a Healthier Community through Art, a multimedia group exhibition at Pittsburgh’s Contemporary Craft, is ambitious; it purports to highlight global food insecurity and its place in a complex ecosystem of injustice and inequality, including poverty, racism, climate change, and dubious corporate and governmental practices. It’s fitting, then, that each artist’s work is accompanied by both an object label and a “field guide,” which provides commentary on that work’s thematic relationship to food justice, written by community partners that support related causes, such as food banks, urban gardens, and university food research think tanks.  

The inclusion of field guides, which are less direct reflections on each piece and more related ruminations, ingeniously weaves together the works and the issues they represent within the habitats that shaped and naturalized them, complete with signifiers that unite the disparate pieces under the banner of “food justice.”

Read the full review HERE

Excerpt on the work of members Wendy DesChene and Jeff Schmuki

At first glance, Monsantra Plant Bots and Community Hydroponic Garden, both projects by Wendy DesChene and Jeff Schmuki from 2019, use living flora in contrasting ways; the former consists of what looks like lengthy, verdant grass adhered to two sets of remote-controlled monster truck wheels. As the title suggests, the piece merges Monsanto GMO seedlings with robotics, producing a comical hybrid that portends a somber future for agriculture. The edible plants in Community Hydroponic Garden grow from their machines, fed by carefully distilled water into porous, pH-neutral ceramic containers tended throughout the show by community members who actually harvest the yield for food. Perhaps this garden of “working water” (hydroponics) is actually another creation of the plant bots, showing us an alternate future of sustainable food that melds human communal labor and technology. As this project asks “where does our food come from?” it is accompanied by a field guide that talks about what globalized capitalism has done to food sovereignty.

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