Acres of Care - Veldzorgen (2023)

The village of Watou is situated in the agricultural province of West-Vlaanderen, where maize, used for cattle feed, is one of the most grown crops. Zea Mays holds significant cultural importance in its native lands in Central America and has integrated into the cultural worlds of many of the people who cultivate it. In Europe, however, contemporary maize cultivation is a practice where several ecological issues come together. Industrial-chemical agriculture, plant migration, the loss of cultural and biodiversity, and food production intersect.

'Acres of Care' is inspired by the Watcher’s Stages that the Hidatsa people built in their fields. Here, they spent hours tending to the crops, singing to them, and being attentive to their growth. It is this idea of care that I introduce to the West Flemish fields. The platform, situated in a maize field, rises from an excavation in the ground as if originating from an earlier geological time. The three elevations allow the viewer to grow with the maize as the season progresses. During the festival, two gatherings were organized. In the opening weekend, eco-philosopher Sophie van Balen provided an interactive lecture on the passing-on of a breathable future. Halfway through the festival, a tasting of local produce was organized in collaboration with Restaurant Pegasus. Here, the reciprocal relationship between the agricultural landscape and our internal, microbial landscape was emphasized. Bites of food were served with 'bites' of Scott Gilbert's essay 'Holobiont by Birth' from the book 'Arts of Living on a Damaged Planet'."