The short version:

An exchange project between farmers and performers workshopping the concept of community to produce a site-specific performance.


Cloneen, Ireland community members with PerFarmance project collaborators during Tidy Village Clean-up Day!

Now for the  long version…

Food production is a point of fascination and concern for us. We come from different backgrounds and our views on food are varied, but they intersect at the dinner table. Chris was raised in a family that owned a fast food restaurant and, over the past seven years, has been a practicing vegetarian. Juan comes from a flavourful tradition of Mexican cuisine, homemade tortillas and salsa. For Melissa, food was simply ingested energy until she began experimenting with vegetarian, vegan, raw and natural diets seven years ago. What people willingly put into their body without a second thought is,kindly said, perplexing and, bluntly stated, deadly. As more small farms are absorbed into large agricultural, umbrella corporations, seeking to be represented in giant retailer stores, several questions arise. How complex is the food cycle? When horse meat is labeled as cattle beef, what are the implications? What is truly local? What corners get and have to be cut from stable to label and finally table? Are organic markers and regulations, always the right choice for small farmers? Artistic practices have a unique ability to engage this dialogue and bring important matters about food production into the spotlight.

In the summer of 2012, a close acquaintance approached Chris with his dream of creating a farmers co-operative of a recently inherited property in southern Ireland. The generous supporter envisions a space for two modes of production to symbiotically generate an organic growth of knowledge exchange between farmers and performers.

Many ideas and questions sprout from the collaboration of farmers and artists, dealing with issues of production with regards to performance and food. Can performance practices facilitate a platform for participating in the globally relevant conversations of food production? And, conversely, could the community’s farming practices offer a new perspective to artists who tend to find themselves producing and consuming, most frequently, in the concrete enclaves of a city? Certainly, we can offer each other substance beyond subsistence.

The framework for this residency has an elastic quality. Through the artist residency in Cloneen, Ireland there will be an exchange between local and international artists and the  community in several ways:

– Artists and community members are provided a venue to share developed performances and display hand-made, farm-produced work in a temporary exhibition, in order to cultivate space for dialogue and to receive feedback from local and international community.

– Artists investigate and residents discuss local histories in the community and impacts of global trends on rural villages.

– Artists and interested community members may give workshops for the collective, such as:
-movement-based workshops
-story telling workshops
-farm machinery
-farm practices

– A weekly People’s Kitchen of preparing dishes and sharing thoughts over a meal of locally produced food will continue to center the project around the issues on the table.

– Through the cumilative ideas sparked in the workshops, the community interviews, ethnographic documentation and reflection around the community dinners, the artists will produce a culminating piece to conclude the residency.

The project finds sustenance in the sharing and receiving of ideas around food health and security. As a greenhouse nurtures  growth of breathing and organic fibers through focused energy and heat, this farm house residency seeks to capture, activate and invigorate the farm to table, rural to urban, local and global debate with a thorough and genuine approach. In this space, visiting artists and local community share energies and expand participant knowledge bases through collaborative processes. Ultimately, through this exchange, both farmers and artists are able to workshop the concept of community, which is positively transferred to the larger movement for sustainable living. It is through the farm that the city gains sustenance.

Photo: Tarla Patel

Photo: Tarla Patel