The Order
of Potatoes

This ongoing artistic enquiry evolves around potato varieties that are restricted for commercial cultivation within the EU. Most of these old and new varieties are bred by farmers for small-scale use. They are genetically too diverse to meet EU’s regulations on Distinctiveness, Uniformity and Stability, the so-called DUS criteria, which have to be met in order for the plants to qualify for commercial use.

The potatoes are grown and circulated together with stories from the cultural and historical context in which they have been bred. When brought together, their stories tell about the long historical process in which they ended up as relegated bodies.

Initially domesticated by Andean farmers, the potatoes that reached Europe are sparsely documented. The place in which this story begins, is Austria in 1587, when the earliest documentation of the potato in Europe is known. The story ends in 2010, when farmer Karsten Ellenberg in Barum, Germany bred new varieties for small-scale farmers, bypassing the industry’s need for DUS criteria.


Den Frie Udstillingsbygning, Copenhagen,  Denmark. April - June, 2009.

Materials: EU pallets, sacks with 16 different potato varieties, paperbags with 16 different two sided prints.

Potato varieties: Mehlige Mühlviertler, Congo, Vitelotte, Æggeblomme, Rosa Tannenzapfen, Bamberger Hörnchen, Highland Burgundy, King Edward, Arran Victory, Lapin Puikula, Adretta, Asparges, Linda and Rote Emma.

Each paper bag had on the one side printed information about a potato variety and on the other side a related narrative on the cultural/ historical/ economical implication for this variety to have been bred. The 16 varieties made a chronological narrative ranging from 1587 to 2009.

Most of the presented varieties are old heirloom potato varieties prohibited for commercial circulation within The EU, since they do not live up to the standards of EU’s so called DUS-criterias (Durability Uniformity and Stability).

Visitors could fill the printed paper bags with potato of the described variety and bring with them to plant, cook or in other ways let circulate.

Curated by Sebastian Schiørring and Camilla Berner.