A few weeks ago we began to explore the intersections of art and agriculture while reflecting on “Slow Design.” Today we pick up that thread again to discuss Edible Estates: Attack on the Front Lawn, the book portion of an art project by Fritz Haeg.
Haeg is an artist, trained as an architect, who likes to explore “poetic provocations on the street that force us to examine the world we’re living in and the systems that support us, like food.” Those are his words, scribbled down while he spoke as the moderator of a panel about his project at the New York Public Library last Friday.
Haeg’s project reclaims the front lawn–the most barren green thatch we’ve got in this country–and tries to turn it into a “space of agency.” So far he has helped nine families turn their front lawns, generally suburban, into edible landscapes, home gardens if you will.
These projects are sponsored by museums–they are living art projects–ones that have the potential to unify communities, provoke conversation, and help to feed a family.
The NYPL brought together a rockstar panel of experts on art (theatre and opera director Peter Sellars and Whitney Biennial curator Shamim Momin), urban planning (Yale professor and author Dolores Hayden), and gastronomy (Frederick Kaufman, author), to discuss this piece and its intersections with each of their disciplines. The surprise sustainable food activist and expert? Peter Sellars, who in addition to being a world famous theatre auteur, is also apparently extremely well versed in the politics of food.
With a project such as this, that explores the convergence of some big issues including: suburban landscapes, our relationship to our neighbors and our community, our relationship to food, and the question of: is art a form of activism(?), there is potential for truly interesting discussion, and this event did not disappoint. Especially fun was seeing Frederick Kaufman try to pitch the benefits of GMO crops and the audience booing him.
Soon you’ll be able to both listen to the panel and view a video on the NYPL’s website.