Can we design a better system of agriculture? The madd-bordeaux exhibition, Farmer designers: an art of living, believes so
Loess Plateau, Gao Xing Zhuang village, China. Photograph: Kosima Weber Liu, EEMP
A new exhibition devoted to farming design – the design of agricultural productivity – has opened at the Museum of Decorative Arts and Design, Bordeaux (madd-bordeaux). Taking into account the impact of the 20th-century rise of industrial farming, the increased food needed for a growing population, and the accelerating climate crisis, the projects and practices on show are presented as possible routes to a more sustainable world.
Here, design is positioned not as an object but as a process to tackle pressing issues. The elements these ‘farmer designers’ design with are land, topography, rainwater run-off, sunshine, winds and the biological cycles of fauna and flora. The show highlights individuals among this new wave of farmers – from Burkina Faso to Brazil – who draw heavily on research, experiment with innovative practices and adapt processes to specific contexts, in order to produce food while regenerating soil and biodiversity.
Market gardening, Malabo (Bioko island), Equatorial Guinea, 2016. Photograph: Jan Ziegler
One, Adama Dialla, grows corn, sorghum, okra, bissap, sweet potatoes and peanut over 3ha in Burkina Faso’s Oubritenga province. In 2016, she adopted a site-specific agroecological approach: managing soil fertility, creating and using different types of composting, combining and rotating crops, rationally managing water, and adopting agroforestry principles.
At Ahalen Lurrak, a 5ha farm in Oneix in the south of France, Odile Fabrègue and Christian Varin grow 178 varieties of vegetables and over 50 varieties of tomatoes in a balanced and biodiverse ecosystem. The river that runs below the farm irrigates the land with the help of a solar-powered pump and certain crops are grown under a large mobile greenhouse.
Ahalen Lurrak, Oneix, France, 2020. Credit: madd-bordeaux
The exhibition highlights the scales of crops and production and offers insights into new farming practices. It focuses in on soil, revealing new knowledge about its role, how it functions and the ecosystem that it harbours.
In the heart of the show is an installation developed by students from Lausanne design university ECAL, under the direction of designer Erwan Bouroullec, which is described as ‘a plastic translation of the economic, social and ethical issues brought about by the scales of production.’
Alongside the exhibition, a major off-site project has taken place across the city, in the form of a dozen themed gardens being created in various Bordeaux neighbourhoods, sponsored by farmers, designers and figures from the world of ecology.
Farmer designers: an art of living is at the Museum of Decorative Arts and Design (madd-bordeaux) until 17 January 2022
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