At MADD in Bordeaux, agriculture is also design

Most surprising – even disturbing and a bit hermetic – such is the new exhibition “Peasants designers, an art of living”, to be seen until January 17, 2022 at the Museum of Decorative Arts and Design (MADD), born under the auspices of Resources, the cultural season in Bordeaux. The subject – safeguarding biodiversity – is certainly a hot topic, but does it have its place in such a place?

“It would not have shocked the British who talk about farm design, in the same way as fashion design, hair design, sport design, etc., defends Constance Rubini, the energetic director of the Bordeaux museum and curator of the exhibition she carried for two years, Covid obliges. The farmers that we put forward because they think, explore new avenues such as soil regeneration, and they seek innovative solutions to social issues, such as the fight against global warming, take a similar approach to that of designers. “

The scenographer Jean-Baptiste Fastrez has deployed – with the designer François Bauchet – treasures of inventiveness to give life to what are only figures, illustrations and videos. Wild grass beds and flowers have grown under the zenithal light of the old prison for sailors on board and daughters of joy of the XIXe century, now annex of the museum. Vintage tools (forks with two to five teeth, scythe with a wooden handle, secateurs…) are hung on the wall, like trophies. Here, bushels of rye, wheat and spelled ears line a cell, to illustrate the major role of old and hardy seeds in biodiversity. There, an enigmatic barrel with 500 liters of water represents the content of what an oak evaporates in liquid per day, emphasizing the importance of fighting against deforestation, so that the trees continue to hang on the clouds to better give birth sources.

“Tools for an agroecological transition” in the foreground and a selection of old tools in the background.

There are, in the exhibition, authentic designers who have seized, in the XXe century, of the crucial question of food, advocating optimization, rather than exploitation of land. Some are presented in a photo gallery, such as the Austrian-American Victor Papanek (1923-1998), who laid the foundations for ecodesign, or the American Richard Buckminster Fuller (1895-1983), who, in his Instruction manual for the Earth spacecraft, introduced, in 1969, the idea that men are all on board the same planet that must be preserved. The others appear through a few files on their work – which have remained utopias – such as the American Frank Lloyd Wright (Broadacre City, 1932), the Swiss naturalized French Le Corbusier (La ferme radieuse, 1934) and the Italian Andrea Branzi (Agronica, 1994).

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