Mohamed Sleiman Labat & Pekka Niskanen (Illustrations Mohamed Seliman Labat)
Seeds have the capability to connect people and distant fragmented gardens across the globe. Gardens extend hope to places beyond local communities. Not only do gardens produce edible food, they also activate the different senses, vision, smell, and touch. As artistic creations, they invoke a multisensory experience. This book brings up some key issues and viewpoints on how family gardens and Sahrawi refugee camps can be approached in research and in fine art. The Nomadic Seeds project is based both on artistic practice and artistic research that influence and feed each other. The book in itself is a work of art. It includes Mohamed Sleiman Labat’s unique drawings of trees, plants and seeds. The artistic research article is printed both in English and in transcribed Hassaniya, the oral language of the Sahrawi people. The Nomadic Seeds book does not have an ending. Instead, it has two beginnings that meet each other in the middle of the book. The middle is an intersection for two different writing cultures and for two different cultural contexts. Beyond the texts and drawings, the book continues to offer a post-reading experience by inviting readers to plant the seeds it brings with it.
The starting points for the Nomadic Seeds project are Finland and the Hamada Desert in south-west Algeria where the Sahrawi community have been confined in the middle of the desert as refugees for the past 47 years. Small scale family gardens popping up in the Sahrawi refugee community are now creating a new narrative for the Sahrawi who have been nomads for centuries. 173 thousand Sahrawi in the Hamada Desert have been disconnected from their nomadic practices. In contrast to prolonged isolation and dependence on international aid, family gardens offer the Sahrawi people alternative ways to survive in the new context.