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Step Into a Post-Apocalyptic 'Pollination Pod' This Week in Brooklyn

DOWNTOWN BROOKLYN — You can step into a post-apocalyptic world where bees have died off and food is scarce this week in Downtown Brooklyn

The participatory art installation, called a “pollination pod,” will pop up at Metro-Tech Thursday and Friday.

The pod, created by 30-year-old artist Lia Kim Farnsworth, depicts a fictional future government program called “Initiatives for Global Food Supply” in which people can volunteer to pollinate plants in exchange for food vouchers, following the mass extinction of bees and other pollinators. 

Audience members can walk into the pod — a 14-foot-long truck marked with an “Initiatives for Global Food Supply” logo — and listen to different audio recordings that will teach them how to pollinate various types of crops.

Participants will be handed pollination tools like artist’s brushes and cotton swabs, and given instructions on how to use them. Meanwhile, Farnsworth will be playing the role of a uniformed government worker who will give guests instructions on the pollination program.

Initiatives For GFS - Hand Pollination Methods from Lia Kim Farnsworth on Vimeo.

At the center of the pod, a bed of planters will include crops like tomato, eggplant, a variety of peppers and zucchini. If the flowers are open, audience members may get to pollinate some of the crops themselves.

Once they’re done, participants can fill out an online form to receive their fictional food voucher. 

Farnsworth, who is an MFA candidate at Pratt Institute, said she started researching pollination as she worked on her thesis project, which incorporates environmental change.

“It’s really interesting because a mass [pollinator] die-off is happening,” the artist said. “That’s not necessarily related to a lot of conversations that have to do with environmental change, like climate change, but it has some sort of trajectory on our economy and our way of living.”

Beekeepers in the United States alone lost 44 percent of the honey bees in their colonies between April 2015 and April 2016, according to an annual survey conducted by the Bee Informed Partnership and the Apiary Inspectors of America, and funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).  

boot tray

Lia Kim Farnsworth. (Courtesy: Lia Kim Farnsworth)

Farnsworth said she hopes to bring to light the importance of a topic that goes mostly unnoticed in our society.

“I’m hoping to create an environment where people are able to recognize something they’ve already known, but to see it in a different way and to explore it in a different way,” she said. 

“Performing a motion we completely take for granted and thinking about its connection to our food source, that’s the larger takeaway I’m looking for.”

The pollination pod will sit outside 139 Duffield St., at the intersection of Flatbush and Myrtle avenues, from 5 to 8 p.m. Thursday and noon to 8 p.m. Friday.