Tracy Metz, Rotterdam, 22 december.
A landscape hides behind each bite.
Where does our cheese come from? Artist Esther Polak looked for an answer to that question and followed the dairy line from Latvia to the Netherlands. From the cows udder in Latvia to a Dutch couples plate in Utrecht as rigamont cheese: straight through five European countries, artist Esther Polak from Amsterdam, follows the milks route, through different media such as photography, film and satellite navigation she paints a picture and draws a map. Yesterday she presented her MILKproject to the collected ministers of agriculture in Brussels. Polak gave a gps-receiver with specially developed software to nine different ‘characters’: the Latvian farmers with their cows, the milk collector, the owner of the cheese factory, the transporters, the cheese trader, the market merchant and the consumer. The receiver registers its position every five seconds and can remember up to 10,000 positions, which can later be downloaded to a computer and together show a movement pattern, mowing the land for example. Portraits in photography and film are made of all characters that can also be seen on the website http://www.milkproject.net.
This project very concretely shows the new connections that are made by trade in Europe '', says Polak, who cooperated with the Latvian artist Ieva Auzina. , It also connects to the desire of the consumer to know where their food comes from. The MILKproject shows that a landscape and a way of life hide behind each bite on your plate. That is what the story of the Latvian milk collector is about'', tells Polak. , He sees that the farmers now have their own land, but no machines to farm it. As a result the open meadow landscape is roughening in fast pace.' ' One of the best things of the MILKproject Esther Polak thinks is that the preconception about technology is broken down, often we think that technology leads to alienation, but here technology leads to connection.' ' Earlier this week the MILKproject was stationed at the Agrovakbeurs (an agricultural trade show) in Den Bosch. A dairy farmer that saw the installation there, said:, My milk is made into milk powder for baby food, and that is then transported all over the world as well.' ' Another dairy farmer told Polak:, I’d like to know where my milk ends up.'