The intent behind Soil is to examine a culture through its agricultural past. In my first project, Soil: 1000 years of Icelandic farming, I looked at a country with no soil— Iceland. As a resident artist at HEIMA, in Seyðisfjörður, Iceland, I worked intensely with the immediate farming and fishing community of the small agricultural town nestled within the beautifully hostile Icelandic Fjords. I traveled to all four regions of Iceland to learn about each unique, diverse environment, to study the natural resources of each region, and to learn about the uncommon adaptations made by the settlers of Iceland. Iceland was once barren and uninhabitable, but, thanks modernized technologies and the use of natural, unconventional resources that the country offers, they are almost entirely self reliant. My research was conducted through factory, farm and restaurant visits, interviews, cooking lessons, foraging walks, boat trips and many shared meals. I shared my findings through paintings, installations and a online journal, linked here.
For this project, a meal was prepared using only Iceland’s natural, edible resources: Algea, Sea Weed, Moss, Fish and Mussels, along with the ingredients brought to Iceland with Viking settlers: Wheat and Dairy. Traditional recipes were used to bake “Thunder Bread” (baked in the earth) in the Western, geothermal region of Iceland, Skyr (yogurt) sourced from the mossy glacial fields that only exist in the South, Moss Butter from the lave fields of Northern Iceland, and Harkfiskur (wind dried fish chips) from the windy Eastern fjords. Meals were shared in a growing algae farm, which employed one of Icelands most plentiful resources- sunlight- to produce nutrient dense, fresh water spirulina, harvested from the glacial waterfalls. Rather than farming with soil, Algae Farming provided a glimpse into alternative farming— one that uses geothermal heat and sunlight as tools for successful agricultural production. By incorporating traditional recipes from each region of Iceland, the installation reflects four diverse and radically different environments with one major similarity: they all lack soil.