From March to October 2015 in Milan downtown a 5 hectares field of wheat created by the artist Agnes Denes will be sown, tended and harvested. Wheatfield, organized by Fondazione Riccardo Catella and by Fondazione Nicola Trussardi in collaboration with Confagricoltura, represents Nature reclaiming the city. Through a simple, yet compellingly ecological image, this masterpiece renews the message of returning to the concreteness of the land, source of all life and prosperity.
Created for the first time in 1982 on a four-acre landfill that is now New York’s Battery Park City, Wheatfield has endured in public memory as one of the most famous earthworks of all time, a masterpiece imbued with symbolism and confrontational power.
Wheatfield fits perfectly with the values and the topics of Expo 2015, such as sustainability, sharing and redistribution of resources and world hunger, the need of protecting the land and fostering social and economic growth in a way that preserves quality of life for individuals and communities.
Wheatfield will grow over 5 hectares of an area of the Porta Nuova quarter subsequently intended to house a public park called the “Biblioteca degli Alberi” or “Library of Trees”. To create the field 15,500 cubic meter of soil will be transported to the area, and 1250 kg of Odisseo variety seed (250 kg per hectare) will be used, in addition to some 5000 kg of fertilizer.
“Making art today is synonymous with assuming responsibility for our fellow humans”, Agnes Denes explains. “We are the first species that has the ability to consciously alter its evolution, even put an end to its existence. We have gotten hold of our destiny, and our impact on earth is astounding. Because of our tremendous ‘success’ we are overrunning the planet, squandering its resources. We are young as a species, even younger as a civilization and, like reckless children, initiate processes we cannot control. I believe that the new role of the artist is to create an art that is more than decoration, commodity or political tool, an art that questions the status quo and the endless contradictions we accept and approve of. It elicits and initiates thinking processes.”
Wheatfield is not just a work of art, though. It is above all a universal concept, a driving force for building community and social engagement. In the growing stage, it will involve hundreds of citizens in an experience closely tied to Italy’s agricultural history: from sowing to reaping to threshing, with the support of farmers from Confagricoltura, the oldest organization in Italy representing the agricultural sector.
On 11th April the wheat field will be officially opened to the public for Miart 2015, Milan’s international fair of modern and contemporary art, but the biggest and most exciting group event will be the harvest, slated for mid-July, when in keeping with the artist’s concept and with agricultural tradition, citizens and tourists from around the world will be called on to take part in this great celebration.
Text by Gabriele Masi.