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The order of potatoes: On purity and variation in plant breeding

Artikel i vetenskaplig tidskrift
Författare Åsa Sonjasdotter
Publicerad i Third Text
Volym 32
Sidor 254-272
ISSN 09528822
Publiceringsår 2018
Publicerad vid Akademin Valand
Sidor 254-272
Språk en
Ämnesord Cultivation, Intra-species skills, Karen Barad, Matter, Memory, Narrative, Plant breeding, Prinzessinnengarten, Temporality, The order of potatoes, Åsa Sonjasdotter
Ämneskategorier Bildkonst


© 2018 Third Text. This article addresses questions of memory, matter, temporality and narrative as they emerge in stable plant variation throughout processes of cultivation and breeding. I have come to investigate these topics through a practice that combines plant breeding and artistic research. Over the last eight years, I have engaged in the cultivation and breeding of farm-bred potatoes with gardeners Bennar Markus and Mathias Wilkens in the self-organised and publicly open Prinzessinnengärten in Berlin.1 The direct engagement with plants has been a way for us to reconnect with human-plant knowledges that are difficult to trace among human records, since not much is written or otherwise documented of the history of breeding practices of pre-industrial farmers in Europe. However, it is indisputable that before the appropriation of this knowledge by scientific and corporate organisations, farmers in Europe were breeding, with the old plant varieties that survive bearing witness to this. This circumstance brings awareness of the fact that the memory of knowledge accumulation that these varieties carry is still alive and functional in the plant, even though it has been widely marginalised or even lost to humans. This in turn makes visible how farming and breeding are intra-species skills that are cultivated in a dialogue between plants and humans that also involves microorganisms, soil, weather, geological conditions and so on.

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