Istanbul Biennale TR
projects & works
Potato Growers

Kevser Guler with Wapke Feenstra

Istanbul Biennale TR  (ENG )
A Potato-Lunch during the openingdays
2019, Part of The Rural with IKVS in Istanbul TR

Stories of industrialization, land-use and globalization told through the daily practices of three potato-grower families in Cappadocia Turkey.

Potato Growers is initiated by Bige Örer for Istanbul Biennial 2019.

Potatoes have been grown extensively in the volcanic and mineral rich soil of Cappadocia since the 1950s. Not only in Cappadocia but in Anatolian cuisine more generally potatoes are one of the most consumed products. Agricultural changes and extending global market relations have affected generations of past, current, and future potato-grower families in different ways. The resulting diversity of daily routines and economic structures among the families make an understanding of the rural as complex, dynamic, and alive.

In this project, Wapke Feenstra together with the Turkish researcher and curator Kevser Guler learned about contemporary and traditional practices of three potato-grower families - Kara Family, Süt Family and Güven Family - in Cappadocia. While the Kara Family cannot continue their land based on traditional dry farming based on pigeon manure due to increasing dryness in the region, the Süt Family is constructing their irrigation system on land that was abandoned for two decades in relation to overproduction, the internationally traded potatoes from the Güven Family are stored in traditional natural storages. Even though the three families have different stories of local knowledge, industrialization, land-use and globalization, they share the feeling: ‘once a potato farmer, always a potato farmer’. In the project, Wapke and Kevser experienced the daily life of these families and mutually created new imaginations of the rural concerning its relations with labour, agriculture, land, and soil.

The stories of the three families have been visually portrayed in the booklet ‘Potato Growers – Patates Yetiştiricileri’ and launched in a gathering at the Istanbul biennale in September 2019. At this gathering the (urban) art world met with the (rural) potato-grower families where the potatoes they grow have been cooked according to each family’s favourite potato recipe and shared among all the guests. Focusing on the stories of three potato-grower families, this project revealed interconnectedness and a shared rural mindset in rural-urban living.

See also: Myvillages.