do not weep for the death of the cowboy

from Laura Salyer

This art project began 8 months ago after joining a discussion group called Politics of Food. We met once a month and examined a food-ecology related book. Conversation always carried away from the book itself into the local community. I later attended a conference in Louisville, Kentucky called Healthy Foods, Local Farms where I heard and met with Wendell Berry, Christopher Cook, Judy Wick and Daniel Imhoff. I left with energy and conviction. Shortly after, I took a trip to Madison, Wisconsin to visit the university. I spoke with professors in the Agroecology department. The trip was enlightening and I found myself reeling from conversations about art, food and farming.

One day, I was sifting through a stock photo website at work. I kept coming across these grey squares that said, “Image not currently available. Contact Corbis for licensing information.” I wondered about the corporatization of our world, how Corbis owns what seems like every image that has been created. Food, water, land are all being threatened by ownership. I drive south to my parents and the farms are all labeled, giving appropriate ownership of what grows in the field. Farmers are sued for having Monsanto certified crop in their field illegally, when it is the farmer who should sue for the desecration of his crops. Our rights to partake and participate freely in this world are being pecked at little by little.

The audio component of the piece, a reading of the 2008 Food and Farm Bill, evolved from the lecture given by Daniel Imhoff. The spectacle that was created as I watched people smirk, eyes widen and maybe even laugh softly at what I was reading produced, in myself, speculation that people are, and want to be, tuned-in. The political system is convinced otherwise. Some did not laugh, only gathered close to the speakers and listened intently, then, walked away murmuring about the price of wheat. more here