My initial question for the apass research fellowship departed from the place where humans meet their non-human environment. From there it took a few turns.
In my artistic research, I explore the relationship humankind has with its other-than human-companions and the environment we are all sharing. The research started from my long term engagement with honeybees Melliferopolis – Bees in Urban Environments – and the work done by the Institute for Relocation of Biodiversity – an artistic container to explore the ethical implications of issues related with loss of habitat and the collapse of diversity. Lately, I have also started working with bacteria in the frame of my project Kin Tsugi Transformations and reflecting on the ethics implied with microbiological lab work.
Although the precise expression of a research question, keeps slipping and escaping, I got very interested with a procedure that has been unfolding around the “new” definition of museums, launched by ICOM, the international council of museums. (see more about the MuseumDefinitionProcess.)
From my perspective, although many aspects and possible roles of museums are considered in the re-definition, a major shortcoming persists. This has to do with a form of denial of other-than-human life forms needing to be acknowledged as also having rights. Taking this serious would give them a place in our re-thinking of the order of the world, and hence their inclusion in the definition and practice of museums.
To think this further, I propose practice based experiments and explorations of how we humans relate to other species, like plants, animals, bacteria and see what forms of communication can be installed to both create a “language” towards and with them, as well as ways to express the experiences.
Behind all this, is a wish to create a “museum of the future” that maybe calls for more than a redefinition but rather a deconstruction of the museum as such. It is a container that operates decentralized, ephemeral, at times paradoxical, and it does so by collecting practices, thoughts, interventions and embodied experiences.
During the almost 2 years of Apass fellowship, some experiments manifested – partly public, partly more intimate.
March 2019, Contribution to Festival Performatiek, at Kanal:
“Diversity is all around”- Installation and video projection.
Climate change poses a significant threat to the continuing existence of many species.
The Institute for Relocation of Biodiveristy identifies fauna and flora in danger, and creates video tutorials to assist the species in relocating to safety in a new natural habitat.
In the episode Diversity Is All Around, the Institute focuses on abundance of variety created through human intervention and care as well as surrogates to alleviate the losses.
During the first block of Apass, from January to April 2019, Vladimir Miller was our curator. The settlement practice that he offers led us ultimately, to settle our entire group and work at Centre Pompidou Brussels – Kanal brut, the newly designated Citroen garage building in Brussels. He also introduced the writing practice. Simply writing. No matter what. During this block, we also were offered some workshops, of which
First thoughts about “publishing” and to make public (versus intimacy , fragility and vulnerability) were discussed, together with performativity – a term that I had to grow into, but that is today very much part of my thinking. Some of the co-curators gave important input, in these first weeks – for example Peggy Pierot, who launched us into the theme of nomadism and how and where to feel at home – a theme that touched me as it has a lot to do with my research. Also Philippe Gehmacher, Alex Artega.
A workshop with Moritz Frischkorn about logistics and the choreography of objects, made me think about my Institute for Relocation of Biodiversity in terms of linearity, flow diagrams and processes.
Summer 2019, Troubled Garden:
For the duration of a few months, apass moved headquarters to the Zenne Garden – a community garden in Anderlecht. Nicolas Galeazzi was our curator. He proposed being outdoors, getting in contact with the soil, the plants, the rain. And he proposed a practice of adopting. Everyone adopted from someone a project. One that was stuck, that I did not want to continue, that I have forgotten, no time or energy for and that I would like to pass on to someone else.
I gave “Vegetal Speed-dating” to Laura Pante, and adopted a score from Pierre Rubio myself. A score to make an endless poem, an exercise of being present with what is and naming it. It is called “I am made of” and resulted finally in a Letter to a Wheatgrain – I am made of and became a contribution to Migrant Ecologies at Svalbard Seedvault in June 2019. Amongst other contributions, it was added to the seedvault in Norway, in a ceremonial performative act.
Converstaions and mentoring with Pierre Rubio, Kobe Matthijs, Marialena Marouda, Philip van DeDingen, Sally de Kunst – all gave extra input to my research.
Later in 2020, this place became an important refuge when the pandemic struck Belgium. Inspired by the exhibition Learning from artemisia by Uriel Orlow, I conducted some resaerch on the plant family Artemisia. They are called wormwood in English, and are used as medicinal herbs. Its antiviral properties can cure Malaria, but are also suggested for the cure of Covid 19.
I recuperated some plantlets of Artemisia annua from Joelle Corroy, that I had found via the Artemisia house and they grew, made seeds and will be distributed and planted again next year. A distributed plantation is emerging.
Fribourg, Blue Factory – the unlearning centre – a trip to Switzerland in the heat of the summer 2019.
mini conferences (2 participants) on the topic of dispersing, dry toilets and
Collective reading moments of Bruno Latour Down to Earth and Donna Haraway Staying with the Trouble. Very helpful!!
A reflection about Abundance at the Unlearning Centre, Fribourg.
The Other Within
Foundation of a collective called the Other Other, later the Other Within (with Gosie Vervloessem, Kobe Matthijs, Marialena Marouda, Maria Lucia Cruz Correia) in the winter of 2018. with a first collective attempt to encounter the other and the other within during a sweat-lodge with Rik Verschueren in July 2019.
March 2020 – a hybrid conversation online and IRL, during the first days of the lockdown. In December, the collective is invited to Workspace Brussels for a residency to take the Others’ idea further.
March 2020 ff, S/Corona
A part of the apass fellowship happened during the time of pandemic. The in between block was officially not curated, but Lilia Mestre proposed to keep us engaged with a score. This became an online practice that we could do although we were confined and the school was closed. At times, we met with one or two other fellows, in the park. My brain was over-active, trying to understand what was going on and this practice was very useful to give my thinking shape, but also to stay in contact with others, and their thinking.
The score was repeated several times. The whole series of my questions and answers (the score) can be found here: S_Corona_March2020.
A collection of videos is part of it and was publicly screened in May and June 2020, in the shop window of nadine, Brussels:
Infection is defined as the communication of a disease
A series of conversations about “new museums” is published as podcasts for the end presentation on the website http://dismantle.space
Absorbing philosophical, biological, physical, institutional texts, talks, performances, exhibitions was part of the research. This was not always supportive in advancing my quest, but at times also very helpful. Some texts I had to repeatedly read, so as to find how it could connect and nourish the questions I hold. Some other texts talked so much to me that I ended up contacting the author inviting him/her to a conversation or a collaboration.
Quote by Vinciane Despret
I have sometimes thought to myself – and this is surely already the basis for a science fiction novel – that our imagination is so poor, or so egocentric, that if extraterrestrials were to visit the earth, we think it is us [humans] they would want to contact.
A selection of references that have helped this trajectory to unfold:
Agata Siniarska: In the Beginning was a Copy, 2017
Bruno Latour, Peter Weibel: Critical Zones – exhibition at ZKM, Karlsruhe -23.05.2020 – Sun, 28.02.2021
Bruno Latour: Down to earth, 2017
David Abram: The Spell of the sensuous, 1996
Deborah Bird Rose: Wild Dog Dreaming, 2012
Descola Philippe: Beyond nature and culture, 2005
Donna Haraway: Staying with the trouble: Making Kin in the Chthulucene, 2016
Federico Campagna: Technic and Magic, 2018
Jonathan Franzen: What if we stopped pretending, 2019
Karen Barad: Diffractions: Differences, Contingencies, and Entanglements That Matter, 2007
Karen Barad: On Touching, 2012
Tim Ingold: What is an animal? 1988
Ursula Leguin: The carrier bag theory of fiction, 1986
Vinciane Despret: What Would Animals Say If We Asked the Right Questions?, 2016