Metabolic Rift

{~ '2023-05-19 00:00:00' | amDateFormat: 'D/M' ~}–{~ '2023-07-08 00:00:00' | amDateFormat: 'D/M/Y' ~}

According to the UN, by the year 2050, 68% of the world population will live in cities, where resources have long been concentrated. In rural areas, the extraction of minerals continues; farmers nourish their plants using a broad palette of methods and, if they are left without the "luxury of nitrogen", plants themselves mobilize nutrients through symbiotic relationships with fungi and bacteria. Then, the nutrients travel to the urban centers in foodstuffs to accumulate in human bodies, finally ending up as waste in sewage treatment plants or municipal dumps. The one-dimensional consumption of resources, in essence, prevents the closure of any cyclical flow of nutrients, whether global or local. This phenomenon of Stoffwechsel, or the social-ecological metabolism, was the target of critique already by the mid-19th century from the chemist Justus von Liebig, the “father of the fertilizer industry” as well as Karl Marx, who termed it an “irreparable rift in the mutually dependent process of the social metabolism.” This rift, which represents one of the major ecological ruptures, is the outcome of the growing division between the countryside and urban centers, and of agriculture subordinated to the logic of capitalism.

The authors, Tomáš Uhnák and Jirka Skála, present in VI PER Gallery a paradigm for achieving soil fertility and plant nourishment, as well as depicting the invisible and interrupted flows of nutrients. They do not attempt a separate analysis of industrial, peasant, self-sufficient, or other agricultural forms, but instead underline their fluid and organically overlapping character. The key themes are the extraction and creation of nutrients and the infrastructures necessary for their transfer and transformation, as well as the global interconnection of agrarian institutions and industrial branches, along with the incredible richness of approaches and regional differences brought together precisely by the metabolic rift. In parallel, they also pose the question of what are the conditions for healing the metabolic rift and what this change might imply.


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