Sustainment Experiments: The PLOT

2021 - 2024

The PLOT is part of a broader public art inquiry which considers what actions can be taken concerning farming, food consumption and the current ecological and climate crises. It is the first of the artist’s Sustainment Experiments and will run until 2024.

The PLOT began with a potato ridge planting with the Loy Association of Ireland in the shape of a hexagram, produced in response to a question put to the I Ching’ Book of Changes’, an ancient Chinese divination system. VISUAL asked ‘What is the future of sustainable food production in Ireland’, the answer was given in hexagram 15, which was then reproduced in ridges overlooking the car park. The hexagram has the following reading:

Modesty creates success. Balance and adjust things by cutting through pride and complication. Reduce what is overdeveloped. Don’t try to advance yourself. Beware of conceit and arrogance. Be consistent and resilient. Don’t follow policy. Do the right thing.

The potatoes were harvested in 2021, and in the ridge’s footprint,  Sainfoin, a crop that points the way to a possible future, was planted in The PLOT. Sainfoin is an animal fodder, that was once grown widely in Europe, falling out of use with the industrialisation of agriculture. It grows in drought conditions, fixes nitrogen in the soil, reduces methane emissions in cattle, increases protein uptake in animals, and is an anti-parasitic of particular benefit for sheep, who are all but immune to most wormers. Sainfoin is loved by bees, cultivated in France precisely because of the highly prized honey from the flowers. Sainfoin was also the subject of O’Mahony’s film Speculative Optimism. A sister project, The PLOT 2, was made for the Gangwon Triennale, Korea, in 2021.

A series of PLOT Talks began in 2022. A recording of  the first event in June with Paul Totterdell of Cotswold Seeds,  a presentation from agricultural management and policy specialist, economist, writer and advisor Stuart Meikle, and farmer Suzanna Crampton is available to listen to here, and slides PaulTotterdell_Sainfoin_OMahony.pptx and an account of the event by Caitriona Devery here: The PLOT at VISUAL Sainfoin and Regenerative Agriculture

The PLOT is supported by VISUAL Carlow, Ireland