Tuesday, 22. 3. 2011

Written on the skin of the earth

An exhibition entitled 'Written on the Skin of the Earth' runs until the end of April at the Jakopič Promenade in Tivoli Park.

The purpose of the exhibition is to support the preservation of agricultural land and is a good example of interdisciplinarity – the bringing together of sciences or professions and art.

The exhibition comprises 120 large-format (130 x 80cm) photographs and photomontages. The photography is the work of Marko Modic, the accompanying texts are by Iztok Osojnik, while the idea originated from Prof Dr Marina Pintar, whose academic and research work deals with the management of agricultural land. The exhibition is organised by Ljubljana University Biotechnical Faculty, the Slovenian Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Food, the Slovenian Chamber of Agriculture and Forestry as well as the City of Ljubljana and the Ljubljana Tourist Board public institute.

The idea for the exhibition was born at the Biotechnical Faculty, having noted that the total amount of farmland in Slovenia is declining exceptionally rapidly and that at professional and scientific meetings on the problems associated with agricultural land mostly people are preaching to the converted and that discussions often do not move beyond professional circles. In a possible, although then still undefined, artistic event they saw a chance to get the largest number of people involved in how to best deal with agricultural land.

In the exhibition concept the Earth is thought of as soil, fertile soil, the upper layer of the world produced over thousands and thousands of years. From the subsoil, fertile soil is slowly produced on land that serves people not just to produce food, which is one of the basic and most important human material assets, but also to cover diverse non-material assets, such as the maintenance of biodiversity, ecosystematic services connected with the preservation and cleaning of drinking water, enjoyment of the cultural landscape and the like.

If we ask “Agricultural land is needed by whom and why?” the answer given is that as individuals and society, in its multiple purposes, it is needed by us all. The fact that in Slovenia we only have 866m² of arable land per capita and that in that respect we are second to last in Europe is alarming and calls for careful spatial planning in Slovenia in the future. The draft law on agricultural land that emerged from exemplary partnership between farming and planning experts and is in the process of being adopted, sets out a legal framework for this (its critics are suggested to have a repeat, or perhaps even a first careful reading of it), but there must be awareness of the importance of land, agricultural land and the cultural landscape among us all for it to become a concept in society at large.