Photographer's 'Seed Stories' Tells Shut-Up Tales of Resilience and Sovereignty

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There will be a whole lot of symbolism that’s packed inside a tiny seed. As one stage within the flowers cycle, seeds characterize development, and the latent potential that—when planted below the correct situations and nurtured with care—will ultimately flourish into one thing fairly totally different altogether.

It’s a shocking fact that each gardeners and artists alike who work with seeds would perceive. French photographer Thierry Ardouin is certainly one of these artists who’re specializing in the attractive fragility and resilience of seeds, and their pivotal position and impression on human civilization.

Ardouin is greatest recognized for photographic works that cope with the connection between people and the pure panorama, along with works that experiment with revived old-school photographic strategies like pinhole cameras and cyanotype. More just lately, Ardouin debuted Seed Stories, a sequence of macro-scaled pictures of assorted seeds from around the globe. Out of the five hundred snapshots that Ardouin took for the sequence, about half will likely be featured in a e book printed by Atelier EXB and will likely be exhibited in an upcoming present in Paris.

Thierry Ardouin / Tendance Floue


The pictures, which usually characteristic close-up pictures of seeds in opposition to stark backgrounds coloured in black or white, have been prompted by Ardouin’s work 10 years in the past on a French documentary exploring agriculture within the nation. It was throughout this time that Ardouin discovered that it was principally massive, multinational companies, similar to Monsanto, that owned the patents to many seed varieties. As some observers point out, the seed is an more and more privatized pure useful resource, with solely 4 multinational companies controlling greater than 60% of the worldwide seed market.

Thierry Ardouin / Tendance Floue


All of this leads to creating precarious authorized and monetary conditions for smaller, unbiased seed corporations, along with meals insecurity and restricted entry to seeds for farmers around the globe.

Thierry Ardouin / Tendance Floue


Paradoxically, it is attainable for small-time growers to develop seed varieties that exhibit similar traits to patented varieties, and but not use any patented genetic materials. Plus, the concern of authorized prosecution from these deep-pocketed company entities can hinder much-needed collaborative work on creating seed varieties which can be higher tailored to a given locality, or a altering local weather.

Thierry Ardouin / Tendance Floue


As Ardouin explains, that is the very scenario that’s taking place in France, and around the globe:

“Because he wants to control nature, man has also domesticated seeds to improve yields and food production. The seeds used today must obey standardization rules and be registered in [France’s] Official Catalog of Species and Varieties. Farmers are obliged to use these certified seeds and must buy them back each year, because most of them are hybrids and therefore not reproducible.”

Thierry Ardouin / Tendance Floue



But Ardouin additionally factors to a parallel phenomenon that’s rising alongside this growing privatization of seeds, thus elevating moral questions in regards to the notion of patenting residing issues:

“On the sidelines of this official circuit, various networks and associations refuse to register the seeds they sell, especially those from old varieties, claiming, in a way, the free movement of seeds, as well as the freedom of their reproduction. We are therefore in a frontal opposition, with on one side certified, standardized, legal seeds which produce vegetables of the same shape, of the same size, of similar color. And on the other, seeds of peasant varieties, natural, adapted to their land, freely exchanged and producing vegetables in various forms, de facto illegal.”

Thierry Ardouin / Tendance Floue


Ardouin’s curiosity in specializing in the intricacies of this “seed war” additionally extends to people within the latest socio-political debates round who or what’s “legal” or “illegal.” As he explains on This Is Colossal:

In 2009, in a really explicit political context relating to undocumented immigrants, I observed that there have been ‘legal’ and ‘illegal’ seeds. The query arose : does a ‘authorized’ seed seem like an ‘unlawful’ seed? But seeds are tiny and, to see them, I needed to get near them and make portraits of them, as I might do for human beings.

Thierry Ardouin / Tendance Floue


No matter what form they might take, seeds finally maintain the promise of life and sustenance, and we’d do nicely to maintain them free. To see extra, go to Thierry Ardouin’s website, or go see Graines, l’exposition! at CentQuatre Paris, which can characteristic artworks from Ardouin and different artists and actual seeds from the National Museum of Natural History.


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