Ferment

DDW2021 16-24 October, Eindhoven

Ferment

verb –    to change chemically through the action of living substances, such as yeast or bacteria, or to use a substance to produce a chemical change.
noun –   a state of confusion or excited expectation, esp. because of suddenly changing conditions.

Ruchama Noorda’s bio-based landscape interventions are rooted in a centuriesold underground tradition that links medieval occult practices/fermentation processes to the early C20th backtonature Lebensreform Movement, the ‘60s and ‘70s Land Art/hippy counterculture and contemporary anti-growth environmentalism. For the DDNoorda presents a further iteration of Tumulus, a one-room meditation hermithut erected on a wild growth garden mound that currently sits in front of the Sluisdeurenloods at the Mediamatic Biotope in central Amsterdam.

As with the earlier work, the installation in the Hara Hachi Bu Village foregrounds fermentation as a living microorganic agent in the brewing of the glazes Noorda uses to coat the ceramic works clustered round the repurposed garden shed. The glaze combines the four composite ingredients- sugar, yeast, flour and water- that stand at the beginning of agrarian civilization and today may augur its downfall. For thousands of years through the magic of mutual contamination the ebullient sugar/yeast/flour/water brew has facilitated the explosive growth of human populations through the reliable delivery of dietary staples like bread and beer.

In Claude Levi-Strauss’s ‘culinary triangle’ the crucial third category mediating between nature (the Raw) and culture (the Cooked) is the Rotten – the process of ‘natural’ decomposition whereby biodegraded foodstuffs (e.g. cheese,pickles, sauerkraut, kimchi, kombucha, miso) get broken down by enzymes produced by living organisms. In the current ferment in which we find ourselves today when the fundamental viability of our collective way of life is on all sides placed in question, the rotten can function both as symptom and as cure. Noorda’s Ferment installation for DDW has elements of both– both grieving and the possibility of redemption– the bony ceramics threaded like totems or bits of bread on scaffold polesthe work shed with the unclosed door: an acknowledgement of necessary limits and open endings.

 

 

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