Sustainment Experiment Feast & Exhibition
Sustainment Experiments is an exhibition and engagement project that responds to the urgent need for a multidisciplinary approach to food production, farming, and climate change and biodiversity collapse. The project draws on design philosopher Tony Fry’s idea of the ‘Sustainment’, as an equivalent movement to the Enlightenment in its capacity to transform systems of thought and behaviours. In 2021, research was focused on farming and soil ecology through the PLOT, PLOT 2, conversations with farmers in Kilkenny, Carlow and Tipperary, and residencies at UCD Earth Institute and the Butler Gallery that informed and further developed ideas. Feeder at the RHA Gallery, shared research resources with gallery audiences.
The first commissioned Sustainment Experiment feast took place at Butler Gallery, Kilkenny in October 2022 and brought together 24 diners from farming, political and scientific backgrounds. Hosted by the Artist, a Bean an Tí, and a Fool, guests engaged over a bespoke eight-course menu responding to issues related to soil health and farming. The sensory experience of the food and tableware – porcelain dishes imprinted with soil and roots, potatoes cast in porcelain, cutlery engraved with quotes from ongoing research – was designed to activate conversation. Through the tableware which draws on the artist’s skills and experience in painting and making, and the event, which invited a cross-disciplinary expression of ideas, the intention was that the affective power of the food, dinnerware and performative hosting generate a frank, rich ecological conversation (now being transcribed). A second feast will be held in Dublin on January 25 2023 and a third in Centre Culturel Irlandais Paris. Transcripts from feast recordings will serve as the basis for a major new moving image artwork in 2023, The Quickening.