MUTANT CORN : A Collaborative Agricultural Art Project

We’re collaborating on an art and agriculture project! And we’d love your help to make it awesome. Check out the details below and get in touch if you’d like to get in on it.


For Summer 2015, The Dacha Project (Freevile, NY) and ArtCodex (Brooklyn, NY) are collaborating on “Mutant Corn,” a project inspired by the genetic and economic history of corn. Essentially an experiment in cross-breeding corn, it is also an experiment in crossing the social boundaries of agriculture, science and art. We will be executing this project in the region surrounding Ithaca, New York. The long history of agriculture mixed with alternative living initiatives makes this city a perfect venue for an experiment such as this.

The Project

In front of the main house at The Dacha Project, we will grow a small field of different colored corn to see how, at the end of the season, the corn will cross-pollinate. The structure of this field will be triangular, divided into three smaller triangles that meet together to form the boundaries of a fourth triangle in the center.

The three outer triangles will each be planted with different, brightly colored corn: red, blue, pink. In the center triangle, we will plant a commercially produced genetically modified maize (GMM). This will be a pale yellow or white corn. This central corn will be our neutral test subject, growing ears that will display a mosaic of color reflecting the genetic influence of its neighbors.  Unlike the rest of the corn, it will be de-tasseled (stripped of its pollen producing flowers) to prevent both cross- and self-pollination.

An important aspect of this project is social. During its development, we have worked with scientists, artists, and agriculturalists, and will be seeking many other collaborators for the physical growing projects. Work parties – much like an amish barn raising, will be a very important part of this process. This will include building the raised beds, planting the seeds, de-tasseling the GMM corn, and harvest. In addition to gathering interested minds and hands together for this necessary work, we would like to program cultural events such as film screenings and performances.

Around harvest time, we will have a gallery exhibit at The Dacha Project that explores the cultural landmarks that have grown up around corn. This will include a simultaneous screening of the classic horror movie “Children of the Corn”, with the agricultural documentary “King Corn”. There will also be a collaborative mapping project reflecting the results of the cross-pollination, as well as photographic and video documentation of the process.

Get Involved

We are looking for collaborators on all different levels for the project. Though the basic project has been fleshed out, we would like to invite artists and other creative people to bring their own ideas into the mix.  We will be programming events throughout the growing season where interested folks can bring music, discussions, performance that converges around the topics of agriculture, commodity and community.  We will also be hosting an art exhibition in the autumn to coincide with the harvest.

Also, we will definitely be needing lots of help with the physical tasks of the project- lining the pond for irrigation, creating the raised beds and filling them with soil, planting, weeding, and harvesting.  One of the greatest parts of this is that it’s been designed with long-term results in mind, and both the pond and the raised beds will benefit Dacha’s gardens for some years to come.

If you would like to be involved, please contact us.