I’ve just spent a week lacto-fermenting local things underground with Valentina Karga and a host of micro-organisms at Treignac Projet, in the south of France. It happened as part of Entanglements, Embodiments, Positions, curated by Jussi Koitela and continuing his work around Karen Barad’s material-discursive intra-actions. La fermentation de la terre was our first experiment towards making a public underground fermentation facility, conceived as a possible future project for Collective Disaster.
We made: beetroot and carrot pickle (incorporating all the beetroot stalks and leaves), a French variant of kimchi (with chilli, ginger and herbs from the garden, thyme, rosemary, dill..), and pickled eggs, all using ceramic vessels that could be buried in the earth. The largest one, used for the kimchi, was found buried under the basement of a 500-year old stone house a few kilometres away. Stones from the stream running through Treignac served as very good weights, keeping the vegetables under the salty water level.
Since this region has only a thin layer of soil over bedrock, it was not easy to find a suitable place for pit fermentation on the property. Sam & Liz (who run the space, a rambling former textile factory) decided that they could make one by drilling out a patch of concrete in the courtyard. We tried out some underground slow-cooking in the brand new hole, leaving behind a pit that can be used for fires and fermentations.
If you happen to be in that part of the world over summer, you can see (and taste!) the exhibition anytime until 31 August 2018.