Leone

Contini

Firenze, 1976

Migrant Seeds Bank | Cittadellarte, 2016

Migrant Seeds Bank, Cittadellarte, 2016
(Lecture-performance, drawings on paper, food, video)
Courtesy: Leone Contini, Cittadellarte


The aim of seeds banks is usually to preserve a botanic biodiversity that comes from a rural past, and is in danger of disappearance. Instead this one aims to investigate the future, the making of bio-diversity, as a process in progress.

At the core of this living archive are the farming activities involving asylum seekers around the town of Biella, in Piedmont. In fact many of these young men created little gardens in order to grow vegetable that they cannot find in Italy, for their own consumption. However these gardens are controversial and contested, since the seeds are introduced in the UE informally, if not illegally.  At some point during my residency I realized that migrants were often craving for seeds that were easily accessible in Tuscany among chinese farmers. I ended up becoming a vector to spread these seeds, and I started collecting the denominations of these vegetables in many of the languages spoken of migrants in Italy. At some point tuscan-chinese bottle gourds, pumpkins and other vegetables where growing in pakistani, afgani and west african gardens in Biella. Many of these vegetables accomplished a full reproductive circle, generating the seeds for the next year. These seeds are embodying the paradoxical notion of "becoming native". They are all kept in a fresh refrigerator, not to be preserved for future generations, but to be used next summer. 

The bank turned into a device to map such activities, which are not fitting the UE bureaucracy and the current logic of labour, but are able to make inhabitable a foreign land, and to keep agriculture as a living tool of the human becoming, instead of a museum of fetishes. 

 

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