Exhibition view, Seasonal Neighbours: Our Invisible Hands , Z33 Hasselt, 30.01—17.04.22

Exhibition view, Seasonal Neighbours: Our Invisible Hands , Z33 Hasselt, 30.01—17.04.22

Sending Roots: Witloof in Transit
Wooden box, isolation, peat, lamp, 6 chicory roots, water, folder with mail exchange with the Thai Embassy of Belgium, picture, chicory tea bags.

Taking roots within the shared space of a chicory farm in Kampenhout, a vegetable closely connected with this region and that was once the main source of income for the still rural villages around Brussels. Today this agricultural practice has lost a lot of its traditions, but het witloofkot, the place where the crops are cleaned, keeps bringing women together to work and - consequently - talk. The table has become a conveyor belt, the women have become older, and Thai women, newcomers in Belgium, have joined them.

The rhythm of the repetitive labour and the restrained location (in time and space) leads conversations in het witloofkot to be brief, half understandable and mainly anecdotal but at the same time, at least for an intruder, touching. The conversations are embedded within the product that we share and work on for the preparation of its commodification through (inter)national export.

The work experience within a chicory farm led to the meeting with Nook Onchanicha. Upon her departure back home, the sister of the farmer gave her a bag of chicory in order to show this “typical Belgian vegetable” to her family in Thailand. Unfortunately she had to refuse due to the quarantaine she had to do when arriving at the airport in Thailand, due to the corona crisis.

Nevertheless, this is an attempt to send chicory to Nook's home in Thailand. Chicory leaves grow in darkness from the roots of the previous year, so the vegetable will continue its growth during the transport, and hopefully arrive at a matured state at Nook.

Chicorée was the opening of the exhibition of Seasonal Neighbours: Our Invisible Hands

Research in the (hi)stories of chicory in Belgium, particularly in “witloof driehoek”, and how these have evolved. Circulation of (living) goods, people, and administrative procedures. Initiated in the context of Seasonal Neighbours.

Absurdistan met witlof
Aan de ingang is absurdistan compleet, met dank aan een houten kist en een hoop papieren. Wie door het kijkgat piept, ziet vier mooie stronkjes witlof. Die kist van Pia Jacques de Dixmude is verschepensklaar, richting Thailand. Want voor het arbeidsintensieve plukken en wassen van witlof vertrouwen we op fijne Thaise vrouwenhanden. Alleen geraakte het cadeautje voor seizoenscollega Nook niet opgestuurd. In een kafkaiaanse farde naast de kist ligt de hele papierwinkel uitgeprint. Extract Article: Witlof dat vastzit bij de douane: expo in Hasselt toont absurditeit van seizoensarbeid
( Woensdag 2 februari 2022 om 15:00) by Joey Bougard, Het Belang van Limburg