Welcome to The Learned Pig’s inaugural artist residency! This residency is in part the result of ongoing discussions among our editorial team. We’ve been trying to think through ways to develop more closely collaborative relationships with contributors that involve open-ended discussions over time. We’ve also been thinking about ways to present works in progress. Mostly, The Learned Pig shows finished works: art, essays, poetry etc. But we also want to open up some creative processes – partly to offer something less formal and finished but also to enable our contributors to test out and develop ideas in open and unpredictable ways.
The residency is also the result of chance conversations and connections. Our first artist-in-residence is Rosa Farber, who we were introduced to by Wapke Feenstra, part of artist collective MyVillages, whose work we have featured in the past. Rosa is an artist, performer, and farmer, who has recently returned from Glasgow to work on her family’s biodynamic farm, Laines, in West Sussex. Rosa is investigating how farm-based work influences an art practice, and in response, is experimenting with how her practice can fertilise the farm and bring new perspectives, free from the usual lenses through which farming is viewed strictly in terms of economic productivity. We hope that this residency offers an opportunity to navigate this process, while at the same time offering a platform for the work to be seen from.
This residency is a new thing for all of us – for Rosa and for the editors of The Learned Pig. Exactly what it consists of will become clearer, perhaps, over time. At this stage, we know that Rosa is likely to focus on the body, to think about bodily histories, connections between bodies and land and subsistence, and how physical work on the land translates into an online realm.
From summer until winter, we expect to be presenting new materials every few weeks. These might consist of audio recordings, snippets of video or text, photographs, drawings, maybe the beginnings of music or future performances… We might try and host online events of some kind. We shall see…
Hi Tom and Marloe
I’m writing this email with my head down and tail between my legs – I have not made anything to go on the residency page for this month… and I am unlikely to rustle anything up before our (already postponed) online meeting tomorrow afternoon.
The farm has been a whirlwind of shops and restaurants and middle men and women placing orders, all whilst the crops still need planting seeding weeding and then their ultimate end, the harvesting.
I’ve raced around the 5 fields over these 5 weeks with numbers of kg and bunches buzzing around in my mind, lugging bursting bin bags of broccoli and other brassica produce up hills, slung over my shoulder with the plastic slowly etching its cut into my fingers and back with the weight of the crop stretching everything. Whilst racing I’ve thought about many things unrelated to numbers, orders, amounts and delivery schedules… some of these thoughts drift in and out while I in turn drift about, in and out of working hours and sleepy leisure hours. Thoughts on justice, land trusts, rebuilding projects the potential ego maniacs that initiate some rewilding ideas. Thoughts on planting trees. lots and lots of trees. On judgments from spirits of flowers as I run past them, beheading their neighbour and deheading their aged siblings whose stalk their share. Thoughts on traditions, rituals, thoughts to google or find out family histories relating to growing food, this interaction, and if performance or art can help in imagining or resurrecting these rituals that I can find nestled in the practices of my Jewish ancestors. On art, and what a relief it is to work in a tangible food producing job now, and how I, with great help from my privilege, did the unknowing unending and unrecognised “work” of ART for so many years…
Wild animals, life in the shadows. Severed beauties. Unconscious holes.
I’ve thought of my role, instagram framed role or perceived role, as land carer, or caretaker, or just taker. Thoughts on the body and her movements.
I take the land in the way I take the swede or cabbage or beetroot. And i dont say thank you… not nearly enough… i turn around sometimes while leaving the flower garden, and thank the bees and flowers and soil and other living forms i cannot possibly fathom and and say “thank you”… but this thanks is imbued with guilt; and a guilty thanks is a hole in consciousness.
Time has flown and babies have been born and I havent made anything for the residency page, yet. Maybe you can use this email? It is a clear presentation, steaming from a busy farm life… (I am trying really hard not to feel failure at the absence of any work* to show you guys this month – but a lot of work has happened).
I think it would be important right now, in this moment, in these times, at this point, to remain silent. So that is what I will do. For now.
Much love to you both
‘Can I make it’ is a video sketch to orientate a viewer, a slice of life here, a vocal response to lockdown and its easing up. It had to be made, prepared, served, for us to move forward into this predetermined human-heat-wave. Then, writing is needed to carry the image that carries the sound…
Like everything that seems to exist at the farm in this summer season – growth, progress, swelling, developing, rooting – any finality leaves through the farm gates and gets uploaded onto sites where it is available for consumption for just some days (this video sketch might not be here next time you visit). Digestion happens relatively quickly for work like this: visual notation.
‘Can I make it’ is available to watch online from Sunday 9th August until the last of the fennel is harvested – in about a week or two.
30th August update: the fennel has now gone and the film been taken down.
The working day, a series of drives
Common desires to make it all grow
Young shrubs and trees and land became memories throughout the time here, growing. Small and young, matured into stories without observant efforts, just resting for 40+ years on the farmers’ wide-angled periphery.
On Thursday the bubble will get intruded, the outside will enter and extract, capture, frame, steal away the essence of the place, but it is indefinable anyway so it feels wrong to feel wrong.
A farm tour will be given through the eyes of a city dweller, visiting for the afternoon – wherever his eye desires take us. It may very well blur the boundaries; like the wild animals that enter to feast on cabbage leaves and swollen steams, then leave again through the intricately placed rabbit, deer, netted fence.
It’s harvest day
All day we have undone the work we do in order to do all the work.
Cutting off the heads of fennel, cabbage, the appendages of kale plants – their octopus limbs now severed and tightly bunched together stuffed into the black dustbin liner for wholesale – all the support, facilitation, rooting for their graduation, their growth. All that, cut through. Cutting through their xylem cells with an unthinking coldness, clouded by the romance of living off the land and growing organic and biodynamic vegetables.
Physical, practical, spiritual, social, communal, advantageous, privileged
Having it all, all in one place.
Better make use of it.
The limits and the borders get experienced by the outside, through a lived knowledge of it, outside the specificity of it, outside and through a biased window framing it. How can this be, and be undone? Blurring the boundaries of these fields is a typically non-human habit, need, action and (usually successful) endeavour.
Tasting this life, first hand, and even at second hand…
This is part of FIELDS, a section of The Learned Pig devoted to exploring fields as natural and (agri)cultural, invisible and visible, poor and productive, created and creators. FIELDS is conceived and edited by Marloe Mens.