In the Stomach of the Predators. The Monopolization of Seeds and its Methodological Representation

Lecture by Andreas Siekmann
January 20th, 2015

In his long-term works, the Berlin-based artist Andreas Siekmann is frequently engaged with the privatisation of public property and the restructuring of labour relations under the conditions of globalisation. This is also the case with »In the Stomach of the Predators«, an installation from 2014 resulting from a collaboration with Alice Creischer. It is concerned with the monopolization of seeds.

The narrative begins with Karl Marx: In 1842, the young Karl Marx observed the Rhineland Parliament’s debate on toughening the law on the theft of wood. While forests were publicly accessible, they did belong to somebody, and most members of the Rhineland Parliament viewed it as a criminal offence for the poor to gather dry twigs and branches there. Marx reflected on how the capitalist mode of production had always drawn its foremost boundaries between those who made laws and those who had to follow them. The first of these boundaries was to be understood very literally: territories were demarcated, other countries and even whole continents were subjugated and parcelled out. Natural resources and the people who lived in these countries became the object of private business interests and trade. In a very real sense, this history of conquest ends with the devouring of these goods. In the end, nature encounters itself in the stomach of the predators.

The large-scale panels of »In the Stomach of the Predators« survey the current state of these ever-progressing developments and elucidate the disruptions that both state endeavours and private businesses cause through their dealings with the common good that is nature. The Svalbard Global Seed Vault, the seed bank established by governments and agribusinesses in permanent ice on the Norwegian island of Spitsbergen, is just one of the nodal points in a global web whose pathways pump knowledge, genetic information and the fruits of centuries of experience from the Global South to the industrialised nations in an incessant blood-letting. Genetically modified seeds flow back in the other direction, binding local populations to the agriculture industry’s products.

On the basis of »In the Stomach of the Predators«, Andreas Siekmann will talk about this monopolization of seeds, reflecting on methods of how to represent this global net of transnational corporations and their effect on farmers, local populations, economies and ecologies.

[This text is a slightly modified version of Galerie Barbara Weiss’ exhibition announcement, Berlin, April 2014]