The Compass Collaborators initiated a series of public hearings into the longstanding practices of the Monsanto Corporation. In each hearing, people were invited to testify, witness and listen; to offer sounds, images, material artifacts and arguments for inclusion. Our focus was on Monsanto’s role in transforming the ecologies, economies, and social relations of this region. The proceedings unfolded in several stages, and as the deliberation process builds, added to the accumulating body of evidence about the impacts on human and non-human bodies, food, biological processes, weeds, neighborhoods, farmers, alternative forms of knowledge, and finally the environment from which all these entities emerge.
Throughout this project, we invoked the form of a hearing but did so critically. Ideally, the trial is a method of producing a comprehensive public understanding of harms and determining responsibility for those harms. However, existing legal frameworks are inadequate for addressing the scope of Monsanto’s activities: the corporation is granted the rights of a legitimate “person,” while human noncitizens and nonhuman agents in our biosphere are not recognized. Our proposition was to consider all living things as potential witnesses and plaintiffs. We submitted to public review impacts that are experienced materially and culturally, in the past, the present and extending into our shared future.
Cover image: Kristen DeGree.
Carbondale, IL (2012)
Iowa City, IA (2012)
St. Louis, MO (2013)
Greene County, OH (2014)
Cedar Rapids, IA – Legion Arts, “Maize y Más,” October 8, 2015-January 3, 2016
Urbana, IL – The Interdependent Film Festival, – July 31, 2014.
Chicago, IL – School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Sullivan Galleries, 2013
St. Louis, MO – CAMP, 2013
Carbondale, IL – Carbondale Public Library, 2013
Detroit, MI – Museum of Contemporary Art, 2012
Iowa City, IA – Iowa City Public Library, 2012
Kassel, Germany – Documenta 13, 2012
Compass, “The Monsanto Hearings”, performance events and documentation, 2012-2014