Contemporary Agriculture in Israeli Art. Curator: Tali Tamir 19.2.2015 - 13.6.2015

Courtesy of the artist and Chelouche Gallery for Contemporary Art, Tel Aviv
Supported by Outset.
Thanks: Prof. Avraham Levy, Prof. Yuval Eshed, and Yifat Tishler, Department of Plant and Environmental Sciences, Weizmann Institute of Science, Rehovot; Yivsam Azgad, spokesman and curator, Weizmann Institute of Science; Dr. Ilan Paran, Volcani Center, Agricultural Research Organization

The installation Mother of All Wheat was constructed as a cross between a greenhouse, a bunker for seed preservation, and a biological research lab; it simulates a vegetal gene pool which (metaphorically) preserves the “evolutionary intelligence” assimilated in the grain over millennia of agriculture. Tomer Sapir operates in an evolutionary range whose limits he himself sets, based on the architecture of the mother of wheat: an ancient, durable plant discovered in the area of Rosh Pina by agronomist Aaron Aaronsohn (1906), regarded as a genetic point of origin from which mutations crucial to the nutrition of Western man have developed. From this archetype Sapir generates artificial mutations, invents unknown configurations, mixes three-dimensional prints with manual work, and juxtaposes the organic source with synthetic details to create a broad spectrum of variations. As in Noah’s Ark, this “greenhouse-bunker” represents the genetic option for rebooting in case the old reservoir is destroyed or damaged irreversibly. He thereby indicates the dimension of risk and anxiety associated with agriculture, and its crucial significance to the future survival of mankind, whose uncontrolled reproduction poses a potential threat of starvation. Sapir’s installation, which focuses on one of the three major staples feeding mankind alongside corn and rice, discusses the traditional status of agriculture as “common knowledge,” which is at the disposal of the public, vis-à-vis current trends of technological intervention and genetic engineering.


Tomer Sapir , Mother of all Wheat, 2014-15, Galvanized iron, polycarbonate, Perspex, LED tubes, wheat, photopolymer 3D prints, epoxy, pigments, cement, salt, soil, latex, seeds, and grains