Farmer Designers: An art of living
Museum of Decorative Arts and Design, Bordeaux
July 14, 2021 – January 17, 2022
One of the main roles of design today is to invent new reciprocities. While modernity has forged the idea that humans could control their environment and make nature their own, we now know that this is simply not the case. The current crises are our confirmation that it is time to change paradigm. Design has contributed to the invention of modern life, producing objects on an industrial scale, but it has a new role to play today. More than ever, designers are striving to respond to the problems raised, rethinking the social organisation of our everyday life. We are facing urgent questions: how can we feed, educate and care for ourselves?
In English, the word ‘design’ is used with precision: fashion design, interior design, sport design. This exhibition is devoted to farming design. 20th-century industrialisation has profoundly transformed our soils in order to feed more people, more effectively: two concepts that 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. 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 harbours. It demonstrates the scales of crops and production, offers insights into new farming practices and reexamines the dimension of time. Here 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. A major off-site component is offered throughout the exhibition; the visit continues in the farms and vineyards associated with the exhibition. From April, a dozen themed gardens have also been created in different Bordeaux neighbourhoods, sponsored by farmers, designers and figures from the world of ecology.
This exhibition is presented at the heart of the Resources Cultural season (10 June – 10 August). The 2021 Cultural season gives pride of place to local movers and shakers through creations and artistic initiatives that offer everyone the opportunity to re-experience the city in a new way, together. A bridge between the two sides, it looks to be a socially responsible and eco-friendly cultural project that invites us to pay attention to everything that now makes up the real resources of the city and everything that surrounds us.