During the annual MFA exhibition organized by London’s Goldsmiths College, one particular work caused great turbulence amongst the students. The work in question is by a Goldsmiths student Rafael Pérez Evans, whose Grounding piece used a huge number of carrots dumped out of a truck, forming a massive pile at the school’s courtyard.
The site-specific work appeared last Tuesday when a truck dumped approximately 240,000 (equivalent to 31 tons) root vegetables in the form of the said art piece. Evans, who was raised up in a family of farmers in Spain, was inspired by a protest method that was prominent among farmers in France called dumping. “To protest cratering produce prices, farmers will pile up carrots or potatoes in the street, the vegetables becoming a physical roadblock and serving as a highly visible reminder of farmers’ oft-ignored labor. It’s a practice that has intrigued the artist since childhood,” reported Artnet.
However, a few moments later, the work was found greatly insensitive and publicly condemned by four Goldsmiths students who launched an Instagram account called @goldsmithcarrots to protest “this incredibly wasteful art piece.” “Lewisham is one of the poorest boroughs in London and this mass dumping of carrots at Goldsmiths is beyond insensitive,” the group wrote on social media. “It’s a massive slap in the face,” criticizing the piece as contributing to global food loss.
Additionally, Evans told Artnet News in an email: “On one occasion when I was quite young I remember people being very angry and upset as the cost of lemons had been devalued to such an extreme that it was costing the farmers money to sell their stock. This issue made many farmers dump, in protest, tons of lemons, creating a sort of sea of yellow. This I guess was the first moment in which I became aware of the power of how governmental devaluation and international trade affected farmers.”
The meaning behind the Grounding work hasn’t changed the protesting students’ minds, who still aren’t siding with the artist. The group has been collecting, peeling, and grating the carrots from the pile to create a slew of recipes such as vegan carrot cake and carrot soup. They are also hosting daily bake sales next to the artwork and donating the proceeds to local food banks.