Cast in bronze, Pluto (The Farmer) is an anthropomorphic sculpture depicting the god of the underworld, Pluto. Considered the wealthiest of the gods due to the richness of the ground – a source of growth and natural resources such as minerals and precious metals – Francesconi takes Pluto’s symbolic relation to the underworld to scrutinize man’s fading relation to earth and land. Depicted as half man, half crop, Francesconi points to the interdependency between the body and earth, which have been gradually separated through the course of modernization and industrialization, significantly affecting western society’s relation to food production, agriculture, and the labor market. The center of the hollow torso, where the heart would be found, springs a branch that runs down to the ground, supporting the figure. At the tip of the foot, the branch transforms into a plow, the object, which moves the ground, i.e., that works the land. The hollow, deteriorated torso and the dry branch signals winter, as do the veins of the body and the leaves, appearing dry and lifeless.
The work is a metaphor and materialization of the consequences implied by the automatization of labor and post-industrial modes of food production, which have irrevocably affected man’s relation to the earth, inside, and outside of the agricultural field. Marked by a strong sense of materiality, the symbolic language of Francesconi’s work and the use of attributes characteristic of classical sculpture serves to narrate a contemporary crisis, which in its core is not a crisis of agriculture but a socio-political crisis affecting all parts of life.