Vegetable seed banks carry the illusion of humanity’s future

Dénes Farkas’ solo exhibition, entitled Darkness Visible, raises the  questions; if the  present’s and  future’s possible and actual positions can be determined  by the practice of adaptation, documentation and archives. The exhibition, which consists of photographs and  texts was  born  two main inspirations. The artist photographed the visual material at four various seed banks, which can  be found in different points of the world. At the  Global Seed Bank in Svalbald, the  N.I.Vavilov Research Institute of Plant  Industry in St.

Petersburg, Russia,  the  International Center for Agricultural Research in the  Dry Areas  in Terbol,  Lebanon and the  seed bank  of the American University of Beirut in Lebanon. These institutions were established with the goal  of building an archive of the world’s seeds and  plants to be used in the  case of a global catastrophe. The quotes appearing in the  exhibition are taken from the  Lebanese-American writer, Rabih Alameddine’s novel An Unnecessary Woman. The book  follows  the  inner monologue of an elderly woman, who devotes all her time to translating western literature into Arabic language.

The aspiration towards adaptation, its duality  and  absurdity is deeply rooted in Dénes Farkas’ photo and text pairings.  These seed banks, which were built to preserve nature and  serve the  survival of humanity are isolated buildings, where the  plants are kept alive in superficial environments. On the  same analogy, the  transcripts of the  elderly woman in the  novel can  be interpreted – the  translated texts only remain for herself, this way creating a ‘box’, where the  outside world  does not make sense. Although their goals differ, the will to create and  crate exists in both cases. It constructs ambivalence and  also  an interesting angle to commensurate the  creating and  destructive powers of both humanity and  nature.

In the  photographs, the  plants, plant-pieces and  seeds, that  are stored in boxes and  locked behind metal fences, are hidden from the eyes of the world. On the  borderline of existence and  non-existence, hence they are removed from their natural habitat, striped off their original purpose, stored away  this archive flora lives. The quotes paired with the  imagery amplify and  broaden the  dimensions of meaning for the viewer. Keeping in mind, that  the  possible and  actual reality of humanity’s future is simultaneously filled with hopes and  dark omens.

These archives of catalogued seeds, just like the  quotes of the  author’s arbitrary list of translations present an unusual parallel of time, between the  present which is rived off reality, and  an uncertain, fictive future.  Drawing attention to the  fact that  normality and  the  illusion of such is divided only by a thin line.

Dénes Farkas (1974) was  born  in Budapest, lives and  works  in Tallinn. In 2013 he represented Estonia at the 55th Venice Biennale. His works  have been exhibited at prestigious art events and  museums, such as at the EKKM, KUMU or Tartu Art Museum, Tallinn or at the  Ludwig  Museum, Budapest.

Opening speech in Ani Molnár Gallery by: Zsolt Petrányi, art historian. On view until: 3 March  2018. from Tuesday to Friday, 12 p.m. to 6 p.m., on Saturday 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Address: 36 Bródy Sándor street, Budapest, 1088 Hungary