Åsa Sonjasdotter
30 April 2020

A gathering for the sharing of farm-bred seed-potatoes and learning from the cultivation methods they bear witness of with artist, researcher, organiser and writer Åsa Sonjasdotter

Language: English. Please, register for the event until 28.04 by sending an email to: You will receive the link to the event and instructions on how to join it.

Older potato varieties found in Europe are tangible and living witnesses of the way food relations have transformed into the current large scale, global system prevalent today – a system that is in urgent need for revision, as the current crisis demonstrates. By tracing back in time and learning from the older farming systems that these potatoes were bred for, this gathering looks into ways to refigure nurturing relations of cultivation. An important reference for the event will be the project The Order of Potatoes by Sonjasdotter - an enquiry into potato varieties that have become restricted for commercial circulation within the EU. Most of these old and new varieties are bred by farmers for small-scale use. They are genetically too diverse to meet EU’s regulations on Distinctiveness, Uniformity and Stability, the so-called DUS criteria, which have to be met in order to qualify for unrestricted commercial use. In the project, the potatoes are presented together with a related story about the cultural and historical context in which the varieties were bred. Altogether, these marginalized varieties tell a story about how potatoes became regulated bodies. The survey ranges from 1587 (the earliest documentation of the potato in Europe after its introduction from the Americas) to 2010 (when farmer Karsten Ellenberg in Barum, Germany breeds new varieties for small-scale farmers, bypassing the industry’s need for DUS criteria). After the event the participants will be given an opportunity to receive some forgotten breeds of potatoes from the Temporary Gallery so that they can plant them in their gardens or on their balconies: Blaue Schwede, Bamberger Hörnchen, Asparges, Rote Emmalie, Vitelotte, Pink Fir Apple - Rosa Tannenzapfen.

Text recommendation (it is not required however to read the text before the meeting):
Åsa Sonjasdotter , The Order of Potatoes On Purity and Variation in Plant Breeding, Third Text, 2018, Vol. 32, Nos. 2–3, 311–329. If you would like to receive the text, please write to:

Artist’s biography: In her practice as an artist, researcher, organizer and writer, Åsa Sonjasdotter investigates the processes of co-species knowledge, memory, loss and prospect through the cultivation of plants, imagery and stories. Since 2018, she has been a researcher in Artistic Practice at Valand Academy, University of Gothenburg, Sweden. She is the founding member of The Neighbourhood Academy, a bottom-up learning site and a branch of Prinzessinnengarten, an urban garden in Berlin, Germany. She has been professor in Contemporary Art at Tromsø Academy of Contemporary Art in Tromsø, Norway, an institution she took part of establishing in 2007–2014. From 1996 to 2006, Sonjasdotter was a founding member of the Danish feminist art- and action group Kvinder på Værtshus (Women Down the Pub). She studied at the Department of Art, Goldsmiths, University of London, The Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts in Copenhagen and at Trondheim Academy of Fine Art in Norway.

Her projects and exhibitions include: Bergen Assembly (2019), Archäologien der Nachhaltigkeit, the Botanical Museum and NGBK, Berlin; Peace With Earth, Project Art Space, Dublin, Ireland; Peace with Earth, Artistic Research Residency and exhibition project at the Gotland Museum, coordinated by Baltic Art Centre, Sweden 2017–2019; From Flesh to Flesh, Henie Onstad Kunstsenter, Oslo, Norway, 2016; DUMP! Multispecies Making and Unmaking, Kunsthal Århus, Århus, Denmark; D’après nature, Musée de la Chasse et de la Nature and Institute Suédois, Paris, France, 2015; Tote Wespen fliegen länger: bewegte Natur-Kulturen, Natural History Museum, Berlin, Germany, 2015; Native Food and Invasion, Sapporo International Arts Festival, Sapporo, Japan, 2014; Haute Diversité, Domaine de Chamarande and Centre Culturel 104, Paris, France, 2014; Green Acres: Artists Farming Fields, Greenhouses and Abandoned Lots, Contemporary Arts Center, Cincinnati, USA, 2012; Order of Potatoes (The Worldly House, dOCUMENTA (13), Kassel, Germany, 2012), The Way Potatoes Go (EATLACMA, LACMA, Los Angeles, USA, 2010), The Way Potatoes Go (The Gatherers: Greening Our Urban Spheres, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, San Francisco, USA, 2008), Tea Pavilion (3rd Guangzhou Triennial, Guangzhou, China, 2008).


Åsa Sonjasdotter: Participatory plant breeding, the living seed bank of Allkorn, Organic Grain Association, Alnarp, Sweden, 2019
Courtesy the artist