Our activity is centred on a small triangle of land which is about half an acre in size and surrounded on all sides by miles of industrial scale agriculture
a little piece of land functions as a fertile ground upon which we develop ideas and formulate questions which we can mediate via artistic production. It gives focus to our responses to: the politics and economics of globalisation; climate change; accelerations in urbanisation; the increase in an urbanised, colonising world view and the decrease in agency experienced by ordinary people in areas of activity that our ancestors would have taken for granted; and to researching and re-imagining what kind of food landscape people living on this land would have recognised before the arrival of farming.Our response was provoked by extremes of weather we experienced in the first half of 2012, which affected our initial commitment to establishing an edible five layer permaculture to explore alternatives to industrial, globalised food production via an attempt to redress the current energy ratio of industrialised farming: For every 1 calorie of food produced by modern agricultural methods, 10 calories of fuel are burned in its production. We decided not to fight nature by tilling, planting, weeding and reaping as farmers and growers do, but to learn from the environment and to work with it; to discover and (re)learn what can provide food from amongst the indigenous wild plants that grow vigorously and reliably whether we cultivate them or not. We have now developed a system of minimal positive intervention in a re-wilded ecosystem, which draws on permaculture tenets to ensure we obtain the foods we need from a self-sustaining system which accommodates us, rather than being managed by us. This has foregrounded pressing issues relating to food production, what we can and cannot eat, about heath and healthy diets and the kinds of food commercially available in the wider context of current global market economies. This project didn't set out to explore political and economic issues, but it seems as soon as one engages with alternatives to the commercial marketplace, politics, economics and social history raise their heads and one is taken on an unexpected journey into what it means to live now. Monika Dutta and Jake Harries are media artists based in Yorkshire.
Contact : info at alittlepieceofland dot org dot uk
Funded by Arts Council of England DYCP Grant and British Council AIDF
All content © Monika Dutta and Jake Harries