Sand, plywood, wood, aluminium, plastic, seeds and water. Variable dimensions.

Currently on view in Luleå Biennial 20214. Havremagasinet, Boden

PHOSfate is a collaboration between Mohamed Sleiman Labat, an artist and writer born in the Sahrawi camps of southwest Algeria, and Pekka Niskanen, a media artist, filmmaker and researcher based in Helsinki.

The sandoponic garden made for Helsinki Biennial 2023 was part of the ongoing PHOSfate project, which addresses phosphorus and its impact on the Sahrawi, but also the environmental challenges, climate change and sea eutrophication caused by fertilizers. Phosphate mining is the reason the Sahrawis are losing their nomadic way of life. Meanwhile, fertilizers made of a phosphate rock in Western Sahara end up polluting the Baltic Sea, where they increase phosphorus fluxes, leading to oxygen depletion and death of marine life.

Sand surrounds the Sahrawi in huge quantities, yet it is not common to think of it as a source of food. The Sahrawis have begun using sand for organic farming. The Sandoponic garden is the most important new model for growing plants in a controlled sand environment that is designed to preserve as much water and biological nutrients in the desert as possible.

With sandoponic gardens, the Sahrawi are rethinking their relationship with sand as a medium for growing food. Inspired by the model developed in the camps, the gardens on Vallisaari Island were used for growing basil, coriander, carrots, potatoes, kale and lettuce, the same plants as those farmed in Sahrawi gardens.

PHOSfate Community Garden is part of PHOSfate Artistic Research project between Mohamed Sleiman Labat and Pekka Niskanen.

Currently on view in Havremagasinet, Boden.  Luleå Biennial 2024