Mother of All Wheat
Galvanized iron, polycarbonate, Perspex, LED tubes, wheat, photopolymer 3D prints, epoxy, pigments, cement, salt, soil, latex, seeds, and grains
230 x 210 x 230 cm
The work was made for the occasion of Agro-Art: Contemporary Agriculture in Israeli Art at the Petach Tikva Museum of Art.
Curator: Tali Tamir
Photos: Elad Sarig
Thanks to Prof. Avraham Levy, Prof. Yuval Eshed, and Yifat Tishler, Department of Plant and Environmental Sciences, Weizmann Institute of Science, Rehovot; Drorit Gur-Arie, Petach Tikva Museum of Art; Yivsam Azgad, spokesman and curator, Weizmann Institute of Science; Dr. Ilan Paran, Volcani Center, Agricultural Research Organization; Avi Lubin, Omri Ben Artzi
Supported by Outset
Review at 7 Leilot, Yediot Aharonot, Dana Gillerman (Hebrew), 1.5.15
Interview for IBA, National TV (Hebrew), 30.5.15
The installation Mother of All Wheat, located outdoors, 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 (in 1906) by agronomist Aaron Aaronsohn, 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.
Lighting in the greenhouse is based on a combination of natural sunlight penetrating through stained glass windows, as it were, and artificial light produced by blue and red LED tubes. Violet light (its entire range) is considered optimal for growth in artificial indoor agriculture, but in Sapir's greenhouse-laboratory, the lighting changes according to the hours of the day and the weather conditions outdoors. Despite the greenhouse conditions and balanced lighting, all the products and exhibits of the greenhouse are static and lifeless, fossil-like.
As in Noah's Ark, this apparatus conceals a genetic archive for rebooting in case the existing reservoir is destroyed or damaged irreversibly. This indicates the dimension of risk and anxiety associated with agriculture, and its crucial significance to the future survival of mankind in the 3rd millennium, whose uncontrolled reproduction poses a potential threat of starvation. Sapir's installation, which focuses on one of the three traditional staples feeding mankind (wheat, corn, and rice), reinstates the traditional status of agriculture as "common knowledge," which is in the public domain, vis-à-vis current trends of multinational corporations, which grant themselves license for technological intervention in the genetic structure of seeds, claiming their ownership.