A Wheatfield Grows in the East End of London

wheatfield dalston.photo
Migrated Image

Image from Hackney Citizen

In 1982 Agnes Denes created one of the first examples of ecological art--she planted a wheatfield on an abandoned piece of land in downtown New York. Now, 27 years later, her work is being reinterpreted and updated, only this time in the east end of London. A derelict site has been planted with wheat uprooted from Lancashire and driven to Dalston for replanting. In addition, a solar windmill has been built to power two public ovens to make bread.

Created as part of the Radical Nature exhibition at the Barbican, it's a reversal of the show: the art is outside and nature is inside now. It's also meant to make us think differently about the way we use land, produce food and relate to each other.

agnes denes wheatfield photo

Image from greg.org: the original art project from 1982

The french architects' collective chose Dalston for the wind powered pizza oven because of its mixed multi-cultural population. There are many Turkish, Caribbean and English people living and working in this changing area. The mill is fully functioning -- it will be used to power two ovens which will produce 'bread currency' that can be spent in local cafes and cinemas and it also powers the DJ's turntable.

radical wheatfield.photo

Image from the Londonist
The programme accompanying the project is esoteric in a way that only the Brit's can do. It combines psychoanalysis with cake decorating, and a feral trade tea service. What? O.k. it is " A talk and tea afternoon with Kate Rich featuring delights such as hand-traded tea from Bangladesh and sweets from Montenegro, accompanied by a travel report tracking these products from their source."

The bread making is equally bizarre since the results will be used as money to shop in neighbouring stores. It will be baked by an artisan baker and will be accompanied by a pedal-powered music performance.

For the truly committed, there will be a "series of Urban Psychoanalysis sessions, using a Talking Mill, by the emergency urban psychoanalysis commando unit, UPIA."

more mill photo

Image from saschapoflepp

More on the food front; there are cake decorating sessions and a session to design "everything from the cutlery to the baking trays which will then be used at a dinner cooked and served that evening." : Barbican