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Farmers designers: an art of living

Aug 19, 2021

How can we feed, educate and care for ourselves? The Bordeaux Museum of Decorative Arts and Design attempts to unpack these fundamental questions.

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It’s increasingly more important for humans to unlearn and find new ways of interacting with their environment. Once, there was the idea that humans could control their environment and make nature their own.  However, now more than ever designers bow their heads over questions of rethinking our everyday life. We’re facing urgent questions like: how can we feed, educate and care for ourselves? The show ‘Farmers designers: an art of living’  at the Bordeaux Museum of Decorative Arts and Design (MADD Bordeaux) explores these fundamental questions.

This exhibition, which is fully devoted to farming design, looks into 20th-century industrialization which has profoundly transformed our soils in order to feed more people, more effectively. Two concepts are nowadays being called into question on all sides. Food has become an incredibly complex arena; from farm to fork, many different processes come into play to feed a growing population.

Naturally, farmers face many challenges. Those known as ‘farmer-researchers’ are experimenting with new practices. Like a designer, they are inventing new farming processes, taking into account the specific features of the context and tools, which they readily reinvent to adapt them to specific local characteristics. At the heart of their concerns, the land, topography, rainwater run-off, sunshine, winds, and the biological cycles of fauna and flora are all elements that the ‘farmer designer’ observes to develop their land and promote virtuous links for the soil and its crops.

Farmer designers: an art of living aims to present a new generation of farmers who are looking to feed us while regenerating the soil rather than exploiting it. The exhibition makes soil our central focus, revealing new knowledge about its role, how it functions, and the ecosystem that it harbors. It demonstrates the scales of crops and production, offers insights into new farming practices, and reexamines the dimension of time. In France as well as on other continents, it explores the origins of a new culture that places people at the heart of unprecedented ties with nature and repositions them on an equal footing, as one of the links in the chain of life alongside living beings, plants and animals. A fresh perspective on the world to which we belong.

It is not about shouting a warning cry but presenting inspiring adventures, projects and scenarios. The challenge is to imagine and reveal avenues towards a desirable – and possible – world.

Farmer designers: an art of living is on show from 14th July 2021 until 17th January 2022 at MADD Bordeaux.

Cover image: “Tools for an agroecological transition” in the foreground and a selection of old tools in the background, Exhibition Farmer designers, an art of living at the madd-bordeaux, Cultural season Ressources / Bordeaux 2021 © Rodolphe Escher

Exhibition Farmer designers, an art of living at the madd-bordeaux Cultural season Ressources / Bordeaux 2021 © Rodolphe Escher
''Standardization of the living, what is the limit?'' - Henk Wildschut, Food series, 2012-2013 Exhibition Farmer designers, an art of living at the madd-bordeaux Cultural season Ressources / Bordeaux 2021 © Rodolphe Escher
“Sourdough, the unsuspected matrix of bread” Exhibition Farmer designers, an art of living at the madd-bordeaux Cultural season Ressources / Bordeaux 2021 © Rodolphe Escher
Exhibition Farmer designers, an art of living at the madd-bordeaux Cultural season Ressources / Bordeaux 2021 © Rodolphe Escher
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