Edible Estates: Attack on the Front Lawn, featuring Fritz Haeg, Peter Sellars, Dolores Hayden, Frederick Kaufman, Shamim Momin & Paul Holdengräber
"What Is Wrong with an Edible Estate?"
In 2005, Los Angeles architect and artist Fritz Haeg planted the first "edible estate" garden in Salina, Kansas the geographic center of the United States. One front lawn at a time, the Edible Estate project is replacing the domestic front lawn with a highly productive, edible, organic garden landscape. Three more prototype gardens have since been created in California, New Jersey, and England, with two more Edible Estates forthcoming in Texas and Maryland.
The publication of Haeg's new book, Edible Estates: Attack on the Front Lawn, marks the beginning of a concerted national campaign to dramatically overthrow an American institution, the front lawn. Gardens of food will be promoted to fill these toxic spaces that currently divide our neighborhoods, devour precious resources, and pollute our air and water.
The Edible Estates project is at the nexus of many disciplines and current topics of interest: global/local food production, art as social action, radical gardening, urban agriculture, gardening as a public spectacle, food security, water and energy use, peak oil and the uncertain future of suburbia, the blurring of public and private in the front yard, community and neighbor relations, the phenomenon of the American front lawn, etc. However, this alternative project brings with it a new set of questions.
A public debate with project creator Fritz Haeg; theater director, Peter Sellars; author and Yale professor of architecture, Dolores Hayden; author of A Short History of the American Stomach, Frederick Kaufman; 2008 Whitney Biennial curator, Shamim Momin; and director of LIVE from the NYPL, Paul Holdengräber will engage the audience in an open discussion with the question, ?What is wrong with an Edible Estate?
A projection screen will alternately display the Edible Estates videos and time-lapse images depicting the removal of the front lawn and the planting and growth of the four Edible Estates gardens in Kansas, California, New Jersey, and London.
Fritz Haeg works between his architecture and design practice, Fritz Haeg Studio; the happenings and gatherings of Sundown Salon; the ecology initiatives of Gardenlab, which include Edible Estates; and his role as an educator. He has variously taught in architecture, design, and fine art programs at CalArts, Art Center College of Design, Parsons, and the University of Southern California. In 2006 Haeg initiated Sundown Schoolhouse, the alternative educational environment based in his geodesic dome in Los Angeles. He has produced projects and exhibited work at the Tate Modern; the Whitney Museum of American Art; Mass MoCA; the Institute of Contemporary Art, Philadelphia; among other institutions. His new on-going series of projects called "Animal Estates" will debut at the Whitney Biennial in 2008 with a commissioned installation in front of the museum. Edible Estates: Attack on the Front Lawn is his first book.
Theater, opera, and festival director Peter Sellars is known for ground-breaking interpretations of classic works. Whether it is Mozart, Handel, Shakespeare, Sophocles, or the 16th-century Chinese playwright Tang Xianzu, Sellars strikes a universal chord with audiences, engaging contemporary social and political issues. He has staged operas at the Chicago Lyric Opera, the Glyndebourne Festival, the Netherlands Opera, the Op?ra National de Paris, and the San Francisco Opera, among others. Following his iconic stagings of Le Nozze di Figaro, Don Giovanni, and Cosi fan tutte, Mr. Sellars established a reputation for bringing 20th-century and contemporary operas to the stage and has expanded the repertoire of modern opera. He has collaborated with John Adams on Nixon in China, The Death of Klinghoffer, El Ni'o, Doctor Atomic, and, most recently, A Flowering Tree. Sellars has led several major arts festivals, including the 1990/1993 Los Angeles Festivals, the 2002 Adelaide Festival in Australia; and the 2003 Venice Biennale International Festival of Theater in Italy and the 2006 festival in Vienna, New Crowned Hope, celebrating the 250th anniversary of Mozart's birth. Sellars is a professor in the department of World Arts and Cultures at UCLA and a resident curator of the Telluride Film Festival.
Dolores Hayden is Professor of Architecture, Urbanism, and American Studies at Yale University and has written extensively about the history of American urban landscapes and the politics of design. She is the author of Building Suburbia: Green Fields and Urban Growth, 1820-2000; A Field Guide to Sprawl; Redesigning the American Dream: Gender, Housing, and Family Life; and The Power of Place: Urban Landscapes as Public History. Hayden is also a poet whose work has appeared in literary journals such as The Yale Review, Southwest Review, and The Kenyon Review. Her most recent poetry collection is American Yard.
Frederick Kaufman is the author of A Short History of the American Stomach. A professor at the City University of New York's Graduate School of Journalism, he has written about food culture and other subjects for Harper's Magazine, Gastronomica, and The New York Times Sunday Magazine, among others.
Shamim Momin is associate curator at the Whitney Museum of American Art and branch director and curator of the Whitney Museum of American Art at Altria. Momin was a co-curator of the 2004 Whitney Biennial and has curated numerous exhibitions for the Whitney Museum, including Terence Koh, Mark Grotjahn, Raymond Pettibon, and Banks Violette: Untitled. Exhibitions at Altria have included projects with artists such as Andrea Zittel, Rob Fischer, Sue de Beer, Mark Bradford, and Ellen Harvey. Momin has contributed essays to numerous other monograph collections, art periodicals, and exhibition catalogues, most recently as an author for the Phaidon Ice Cream series. She is co-curator of the 2008 Whitney Biennial
Paul Holdengräber is the Director of Public Programs now known as "LIVE from the NYPL" for The Research Libraries of The New York Public Library.