Initiated by visual artist, researcher and writer Åsa Sonjasdotter, in collaboration with practitioners of cultivation, the project Peace with the Earth – Tracing Agricultural Memory, Refiguring Practice revisits histories of agriculture.
A long-term enquiry, the project investigates soil, habitat and dwelling histories, in order to challenge and transform long-established cultural narratives of cultivation and ecological thinking.
The project’s title was borrowed from a call to action written in 1940 by two Swedish suffragettes and peace activists: Elisabeth Tamm (1880–1958) an organic farmer and one of the first women in parliament and Elin Wägner (1882–1949) a writer on matters of ecology, suffrage and peace. Their proposal was based on: ‘…a long, hands-on experience of old as well as new agricultural methods and the effect they have on the soil, the animals and on the humans.’ Their conclusion was as simple as it was challenging, suggesting that ‘peace on Earth and a new and peaceful relationship with the Earth are inseparable’.
In their view, the reconsideration of human-kind’s relation to the land and soil is a pre-requisite to solving problems of peacekeeping, maintenance of health and soil, as well as demographic and educational challenges. Eighty years on, their call is alarmingly timely. Tamm and Wägner not only spotted problems that are still acute, but also proposed solutions for how to reconsider a sustainable relation to soil and the land.
Following in their footsteps, Sonjasdotter investigates the overlooked knowledge and role of smallholder farmers and kitchen gardeners, which were so often women and children. She points to the potential of cracks, reading between the lines of dominant narratives.
Peace with the Earth – Tracing Agricultural Memory, Refiguring Practice was planned to develop as an exhibition at Project Arts Centre in Dublin, Ireland, between 1 April and 13 June 2020, including cultivation and workshop programming at various sites in Dublin (some in collaboration with NCAD), Turlough and elsewhere. The exhibition and programme are postponed until further notice.