The Produce Party (2017), commissioned by Artcite Inc, unsettles the nostalgia for locally-grown produce. In Walks of Survivance, a two-person exhibition curated by Srimoyee Mitra, the installation was presented alongside Lisa Myers' Blueberry Spoons.
In this installation, the ambience of a locally sourced soiree is breached by a series of interventions. Ads from as far back as the 1970s, jingle happily in the background. The marketing belongs to Foodland Ontario - a consumer promotion program of Ontario's Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs.
Rupturing contrived longings for the innocence of home-grown produce, a coffin-shaped dining table spans the length of the gallery. Fashioned from old fruit-crates, thirteen paper plates are nailed to its surface. Permanent, yet temporary. Beside each plate, an article drawn from activist, legal and health publications serves up evidence of the injuries, health risks, fear and exploitation migrant workers face, along with glimmers of resistance.
Looming overhead, four rusty farm wheels take the shape of a chandelier. Adorned with soiled shoes, gloves, and plastic produce - the fixture implicates the viewer in the violence of industrial agriculture, and the politics of buying local.
Photos by Joshua Babcock, Programming Coordinator, Artcite Inc.