Birth of Cotton


Birth of Cotton showcases the research archive of Intimidation Tactics into the Indian cotton crisis. The crisis entails the largest recorded wave of suicides in the world: since 1995 over 400.000 farmers have taken their own lives. Many of them are cotton farmers. To share this research archive is to share the guiding question: How the fuck did we end up here?

On the uneven playing field of the global market with neocolonial strategies of agrichemical multinationals and heavily subsidised Western agricultural industry, it has become increasingly harder for Indian cotton farmers to survive. Farmers are now on a so-called pesticide and seed treadmill. This is due to the fast changing technology of pesticides, herbicides and new hybrid and GMO seeds. Add to that the increasing cost of seeds and agrichemicals, crooked moneylenders, unpredictable weather under climate change, health problems caused by pesticides resulting in ever rising debts.

Birth Of Cotton is a long term multidisciplinary theatrical research project about the future of human-nature relationship and its collusion with western colonialism, epistemic violence, capitalism and extractive mechanisms that have been at play in the cotton farming sector in India. In this project we explore the longterm history of cotton farming in India, more recent history of farmer suicides in India and the emergence of new forms of nature, such as toxic environments, transgenic cotton and other developments in synthetic biology.

The archive comprises news articles, history-, socio-political-, art-philosophy-, books, research papers, court documents, poems, songs, personal reflections, field notes and most importantly stories of the affected farmers. From a first selection of sources we decided on 50 pages in total, laid out in a grid. The neatness of which starkly contrasts the expanse and heaviness of the subject. Passages were highlighted and stricken through, to guide the eye of the reader through this overload of information. Visitors were invited to wander, read, and draw connections between this wide variety of material.

Research: Agat Sharma and Julia van der PuttenCuration: Naomi Collier Broms and Julia van der PuttenMedia: Printed A4 paper glued to wooden planks, stone pebbles


  • Julia van der Putten
  • Naomi Collier Broms