Linda Goode Bryant is a soil loyalist. The artist and founder of Project EATS, a network of urban farms across New York City, has spent more than a decade building local food systems that provide under-resourced communities throughout New York with access to fresh produce and the land and soil necessary to grow their own food. Bryant’s newest piece in Social Works, on view at the Gagosian until August 21st, is a meditation on the communion between land and human that the act of farming facilitates as well as the parasitic nature this relationship can take on in the modern industrial world.
In an urban environment like New York City, where Bryant is currently based, real estate prices are high and concrete is king. However, in an interview with MOLD, Bryant warns against the isolation of urban dwellers from the processes of food production and ultimately, food systems, “If somehow [growing food] becomes alien and we give up responsibility of the things that are so essential to all life—air, water and food—to other people, we become dependent in ways that really strip us of our own agency to create the things we need with the resources we have.”
Are we really that different?(2021), disseminates Bryant’s work with Project EATS into a floating aeroponic and soil garden. The structure, which was designed in collaboration with Elizabeth Diller, was inspired by a visit Bryant made to Brownsville while working on a film piece. There, buildings in disrepair, specifically a dilapidated old school with no roof, sparked her imagination as she envisioned the possibilities that farming in a semi-closed structure could provide in an unstable climate future. “The Cube”, as Bryant has named this moment of inspiration, also provides insight into the themes of spatial potentiality and transformation that have characterized her artistic practice.
If somehow [growing food] becomes alien and we give up responsibility of the things that are so essential to all life—air, water and food—to other people, we become dependent in ways that really strip us of our own agency to create the things we need with the resources we have.
Bryant’s farm structure is accompanied by other works created by artists such as Theaster Gates, David Adjaye and Lauren Halsey that explore the relationship between space and Black social practice. Curated by Antwaun Sargent, the show examines the myriad ways in which art and community can and have intersected to create spaces of Black cultural genesis. Bryant, who previously founded the gallery “Just Above Midtown”, which showcased work by Black artists, is no stranger to the power of space. For her, bringing people together is inherent to the nature of art, “I have always felt, since I was a kid, that art should be discovered and unmediated— art should exist in communities where people can experience it through the course of daily life. [In Social Works], I wanted to invert the gallery, imagining how this growing structure, which creates a space for people to gather, eat and buy their groceries, could become a platform for art.”