Stacey Spiegel

Austrottung / The Last Harvest

1995
The thirty-six Pyrex tubes placed on shelves in "Austrottung / The Last Harvest" contain a strain of Canadian winter wheat that has been genetically modified to render it sterile. Corresponding to "lamed vav"* in mystical Judaism - the number of Just Men required in any given generation for humanity’s continuation - these thirty-six storage vessels contrast with their empty counterparts gleaming on the storage trolley. The artist addresses metaphorical parallels between the control and engineering exercised in agriculture and human culture: "Austrottung", a German word meaning "to pull the weed out by the roots," refers both to the horrors of ethnic cleansing and the industrialization of agriculture, in which species diversity is eliminated to assure the purity of the dominant crop. * The Hebrew letters "lamed" (30) and "vav" (6) equal 36.
Title
Austrottung / The Last Harvest
Date
1995
Medium
Sculpture
Materials
Pyrex glass, stainless steel, aluminum, cast iron and steel shelves, wheat seed
Dimensions
installation dimensions variable
Nationality
Canadian
Credit line
Gift of Ethel and Earl D. Myers, Toronto 1998
Accession number
40014.1-146