THE KABOOM! PROCESS - The Slingshot Planting Technique
Meir Tati and Søren Dahlgaard in conversation in Jaffa, Israel, 24th of November
2016, on the occasion of producing The Slingshot Planting Technique together.
Søren Dahlgaard (SD): This interview will be part of my PhD thesis. It is important to have the presence of your voice, as one of the case studies, The Slingshot Planting Technique, is a collaboration between the two of us. Let me begin by asking you to describe The Slingshot Planting Technique project briefly?
Meir Tati (MT): There are two main aspects of the work, the slingshot and the seed bombs. The seed bombs represent an old planting technique where compost, seeds and clay are mixed to form the seed balls. It is a method that preserves the seeds. More recently this technique has been used in urban guerrilla farming around the World The project takes place in collaboration with the Israeli centre for digital art. The art centre is located in the neighbourhood of Jesse Cohen in the city of Holon. Jesse Cohen is an immigrant neighbourhood and widely considered to be one of the worst (of low socioeconomic status) in greater Tel Aviv. The art centre relocated to Jesse Cohen as a part of the city’s attempt to bring change to the neighbourhood through artistic processes. Our project is part of the art centre’s plan move from an exhibition-based program to research and process-based projects. The idea is to use the art centre as a starting point for artists, activists and local residents to develop ideas, which will benefit the local community rather than the art world. The overall concept is to make a series of projects that are not connected to an exhibition or is driven by the motive of an exhibition. The idea is to create projects that will bring awareness to the role of the Israeli centre for digital art in the neighbourhood and the function of art as a process for change. The basics of the project are to research and develop a model that can create a small change. The art centre has previously invited artists and artist groups whose practice is widely considered socially engaged art, such as the Danish art group Superflex and Bik Van der Pol from The Netherlands.
1. The design and construction of the slingshot with the assistance of industrial
2. To identify and reintroduce local seeds, some of which do not grow in the
neighbourhood any more.
3. Identify suitable places to plant the seeds.
4. Planting the seeds by shooting the slingshot.
5. Return to the location to see if the seed germinates and grow into a plant.
The participants of the project are the two of us and the local people of the neighbourhood; some people we meet when we work in the neighbourhood; and some people through the art centre.
SD: What are some of the cultural references and aesthetics that inspire you're practising in general, which you bring into The Kaboom Process collaboration?
MT: Israeli society is heavily militarized, and the presence of guns in public space is common. In my practice, the basic idea is to take army aesthetics and turn them around and make them work for society, either by making a work of art or doing a workshop for kids with ‘art weapons.’ In The Kaboom Process, we take the same approach and connect it to the playful ways of your practice.
SD: Please explain about the particular area called Jesse Cohen we are working in
Holon. What is it we want to do, what is the problem we have defined and how are
we responding to it?
MT: Jesse Cohen is predominantly a neighbourhood for recent immigrants and was built in the 1950s from a large donation by a wealthy American Jew by this name.
Jessy Cohen has experienced a couple of ‘immigration waves.’ The last one was in the early 2000s where immigrants arrived from Ethiopia. The city of Holon, where the neighbourhood is located, is generally a rather well off city. Jesse Cohen is the last neighbourhood to remain poor regardless of various efforts by the city. There is a highway cutting through Jesse Cohen with high walls along either side. The public space alongside the walls is a narrow strip of a mostly abandoned wasteland. Some private houses have expanded their yards and occupy some of this land. The starting point of working in this public space is to ask: If we plant seeds that used to grow there, could this be a way to draw focus on this abandoned public space and create a process for the community to start thinking and discussing what they could do with this land?
SD: How do you see the particular methods we have developed influencing the outcome of the work?
MT: We use an old method of making seed balls, which brings back to light old gardening methods. Utilising the slingshot adds a sense of humour that helps people
connect to the method. The idea behind The Kaboom Process is to show that the way you do something can be significant. When we were shooting the seed balls people wanted to join in. The Slingshot Planting Technique attracted interaction with the people of the neighbourhood in a way we would not have if we just sowed seeds by Hand.
SD: How do you think this project might be different if you had worked alone? What different aspects or approaches does each of us bring into The Kaboom Process?
MT: In every project by The Kaboom Process each of us brings a different approach to our collaboration. When you work alone as an artist you are limited to your own
ideas, knowledge and methods. The combination of working together expands our practice and we develop ideas we would not have otherwise.