Pollen

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“Pollen” as presented on the banquets tables.
The logo of the open source Buckfast bee association. The honey of these resilient bees was used to preserve the chebakias in.

This dessert, titled “Pollen”, was served to the 150 guests of Le Banquet held at contemporary art museum Palais de Tokyo[1] on November 20th, 2019 as part of Futur, ancien, fugitif, an exhibition dedicated to the “french art scene”. This dish is part of a research project called Spore & Pollen.

“Pollen” consisted of buckwheat chebakias[2] dipped and glazed and preserved in honey, later sprinkled with pollen. These fried flaky pastries were served with a lightly whipped fake-vanilla[3] honey oat cream as well as salt roasted grapes.

Illustrating a talk on the collapse of biodiversity and the sterile environment now facing pollinators, this dish was deliberately calling on a variety of crops. No mono-product, no mono-culture.

  • The dough of the chebakias called for buckwheat, wheat and potato starch, which was fried in peanut oil
  • The honey cream was made from oats and sunflower oil
  • The grapes were roasted with olive oil

“Pollen” was produced in collaboration with beekeeper and biologist Julien Perrin who offered us multiple kilos of honey in exchange for the pedagogical design of his future honey pots. The dish was served on ceramics produced by the students of the Art and Design school of Le Mans (France), under the supervision of Natsuko Uchino and Olivier Chouteau.

Introduction to the dish

The chebakias

“As Nickie explained with “Spore”, the hyper industrialization of our food systems has led the biodiversity of our ecosystems to collapse. An excellent witness — and the key example of this crisis — is the case of the bee.

The reason being that the behavior of bees is the same for a wild bee as for a domestic bee: they pollinate the nectar of plants within their reach. A large majority of these plants being nowadays spread with insecticides, both wild and domestic bees die. Unfortunately bees are not only used to produce honey. They allow pollen to be distributed from plant to plant. Without this pollination plants can no longer reproduce themselves, and it is on this reproduction that depends more than 3/4 of our food production.

To address this issue we took the train through the suburbs of Paris, to the region of “Essonne”, west of the capital, to meet beekeeper and biologist Julien Perrin. Julien breeds Buckfast bees, which can be considered a “rustic” species — which, in other words, means “resistant to all the disasters she has to face”. Julien works in collaboration with a large community of beekeepers to multiply these open-source bees. According to him, the bee must remain "a common" which no industry must take possession of, to avoid at all costs falling into the pitfall of privately owed seeds and breeds.

The indifference towards the bee also relies on the fact that humans have actually very little empathy towards insects. And indeed, there is a real misconception about what social insects are and how they think. Indeed, we often believe that insects are intelligent as a group. And yet, they have an intelligence of their own.

To illustrate it, we have described through an Umwelt, ergo at the first person, the activity of a bee. This text, which will punctuate our conversation with Julien Perrin, was written and then evaluated, word by word, by Fanny Rybak, biologist and researcher at the french CRNS institute, specialized in inter-species communication. It is read by french performer Nolwenn Salaün (English version) and Garance Kim (French version).”

Related links

Gallery

Notes

  1. Paris, France.
  2. The chebakia is a traditional middle-eastern pastry, often served for Ramadan. The spicy dough is fried in oil then dipped in honey to allow its conservation.
  3. The vanilla seeds were mimicked with powdered dehydrated black sesame. Reproducing the look of a vanilla cream allowed us to trick the guests in thinking that the cream was produced from luxurious ingredients while preventing us from supporting the prodcution of an already over exploited ressource.