Residency Imagining Ecological Futures 2020
The Goethe-Institut Brussels in collaboration with KIKK Festival, its Creative Hub & Fab Lab TRAKK and the cultural center Les Abattoirs de Bomel are awarding a grant for a residency project on ECOLOGICAL FUTURES. The residency program will take place in Namur from the 2nd to the 30st of September 2020.
The project is aimed at artists, students and recent graduates in the art and/or design field. People with backgrounds in other disciplines are also welcome to submit their applications. We are inviting two residents in total: one from Germany and one from Belgium. To be eligible you need to be resident in one of the 2 countries (for at least 2 years) or to have the country nationality.
© Kalas Liebfried
1. What interests you about this topic – do you envisage a new ecological future, and if so, what does it look like?
In my projects I focus on the perception of sound and its affective impact on subjects and objects. That’s how my exploration of ecological future scenarios relating to the disappearance of sounds began. The extinction of many bird species will mean the characteristic sounds of many woodlands will be lost. There is even talk of natural habitats falling silent.
What does that mean for our relationship with nature? Will it only be possible to hear and appreciate such sounds through cultural appropriation in future? How can we protect or even enrich natural soundscapes? How has the acoustic perception of nature influenced our ideas about culture over the course of history and what impact will it have on us in future?
My vision of an ecological future is both dystopic and utopic. If we manage to overcome our dualistic concepts of people/culture and nature, there may be opportunity for rewarding synergies. On the other hand, the destruction of natural habitats is so far advanced that much is now irreversible. I’m not just interested in changes in the future, but also in irrevocable developments in the present and recent past.
What doesn’t interest me is the subjectification of nature and the shift of power to act to each individual person. The individual can only appease their own sub-consciousness through eco-friendly acts. The key factor is the development of new environmental, ecological and aesthetic structures, which is a collective responsibility. That’s why I often adopt a performative and interactive approach in my projects.
2. What is the project you are planning to implement in Namur?
My project concerns the extinction of bird species and the consequent disappearance of sound: Ambient for a Silent Forest. I started working on bird calls and songs over a year ago, focusing on ‘red list’ endangered bird species. I created a composition for modified bird sounds and Jazz flutes. In September 2019, this first piece of work was presented as a multi-channel sound installation and live performance at the Pinakothek der Moderne. I was given carte blanche to respond with sound to the ‘post-1945 art’ collection and the opportunity to contextualise my work around Joseph Beuys’ The End of the Twentieth Century.
In Namur I’m trying to specify and expand this exploration of the topic. More specifically, it is about the turtledove (Streptopelia turtur), its sounds, cultural history and, above all, its disappearance. It is shocking that such a common species has suffered a decline in population of around 80% in Central Europe since the 1980s. The name of this species is derived onomatopoeically from the sound it makes: ‘turtur’. This example illustrates how significant a bird’s sound is to the relationship between people/language and nature. Over the next four weeks, I would like to produce a sound piece for field recordings and human voice and explore this relationship. Based on this, I’d like to create a freely accessible patch for synthesizers to enable the musical use of bird sounds via keyboard.
In more general terms, I want to focus on the topic of camouflage. The speculative initial question is what type of camouflage could protect not just people in the natural environment, but also nature in the cultural environment?
3. Why did you choose the Namur residence and what are your expectations?
Namur seems like the perfect place to explore my topics in depth. I live in a big city, Munich, which has a very romanticised and exaggerated relationship with nature. I must admit that this has given me tremendous analytical access to ecological issues. In contrast, Namur offers more normal and less highly charged proximity to the natural and man-made environment – for example, there are disused quarries in the immediate vicinity. I hope to expand and specify my exploration of the above-mentioned topics in this relaxed atmosphere.
© Muesli Collective
1. What interests you in the ‘Imagining Ecological Futures’ theme and how do you perceive it?
The ‘Imagining Ecological Futures’ theme touches on key issues related to the long-term research we are carrying out. We work with ‘sensitive’ materials that are in direct communication, in symbiosis even, with their environment. The resulting installations and other works are not static, but instead shift constantly to adapt to climatic and ecological factors – factors that we study in order to create increasingly sensitive and nuanced surfaces.
2. What kind of project do you want to develop in Namur?
We have succeeded in producing a series of paintings (‘undisciplined paintings’) using a single chemical indicator on canvas. These paintings are in a state of flux, reacting to the ambient humidity. The colour and patterns of crystallisation change. Undisciplined, these ‘monochrome’ paintings oscillate and present an infinity of variations. A canvas is never twice the same.
Many factors play a role and affect the reaction on the surface, such as exposure to the sun, position in relation to windows, damp corners, draughts, the proximity of radiators, handling or means of application.
This residency allows us to experiment with new indicators conducive to our painting techniques, with a view to combining them with each other (juxtaposition, superimposition, direct mixing, etc.), with new surfaces and with other materials.
We are keen to observe the uncertainties of coexistence between these different elements (including environmental parameters), and the chain reactions that can result from these.
3. Why did you choose the residency in Namur, and what are your expectations?
With its focus on experimental research, the programme of the residency in Namur corresponds exactly to the point we have reached right now; having completed a series of works, we are looking to break out of this established framework. During this residency, we’d like to devote ourselves to free research and to the exchange between art and science.
We’ve been in contact with the Inorganic Chemistry Laboratory of the ULB and the ARC-Contrast research group for a few years. The proximity of our residency to the University of Namur will allow exchanges on sensitive materials with new researchers, and enable us to invite our collaborators, old and new, to visit us in order to support the evolution of our respective projects and to open up new avenues.
The subject of the residency is the imagination of ecological futuresThe residency gives artistic researchers from various fields the opportunity to work on the intersection of art, design, and environment. The aim is to develop useful arts-led interdisciplinary research tools and art works to examine how cultural practitioners critically address and creatively negotiate ecological futures. The call includes the research field of climate change and global warming, models of human and non-human co-existence and the interrelationships of different ecosystems, in relation to the following questions: How can we decolonize nature and initiate a social-ecological transformation towards a post-fossil age? How do new models of human and non-human co-existences look like? What kind of promising changes does biotechnology offer? And how can we create a new consciousness and awareness regarding the imbalance of nature and culture?
The project is a cooperation between three partners: the Goethe-Institut Brussels, the globally active cultural institute of the German Federal Republic, Les Abattoirs de Bomel, an interdisciplinary cultural center of the Wallonian capital Namur with rooms for exhibitions and residencies and the KIKK Festival. This annual festival for creative and digital culture researches how new technologies will affect art, science and design. The creative hub TRAKK, which belongs to the festival and is a space for collective, multidisciplinary design, places its laboratory (Fab Lab: FABrication LABoratory) at the residents’ disposal.
The residents’ main focus should lie on acquainting themselves with new technologies within the TRAKK laboratory while benefiting from professional assistance. A final product is not compulsory. The residents are free in the realization of their projects. They may choose to create a project in collaboration with the other resident. After consultation with the organizers, the project may also be exhibited at the KIKK Festival in November.
During their residency, the artists will have to participate in a cultural activity in which they share details about their work practice or research with the audience of Abattoirs de Bomel, it can be a workshop, a talk, a discussion or anything else. This will be decided with the artists during their stay in Namur.
The grant includes:
- A budget of €5.000 per resident. This includes the expenses for materials, food and travel for a period of four weeks.
- A private flat (39 to 47m2) with a bathroom, kitchen nook, space to sleep and work and access to the internet.
- Access to the TRAKK Fab Lab, including the use of all machines (3D printer, cutting plotter, milling machine with numerical control, laser cutter, wood working tools, and other technology) and on-site assistance.
- Use of the studios within the Abattoirs de Bomel (wood working, iron working and screen printing studios; assistance and introduction by the technical management).
ApplicationPlease submit your application to firstname.lastname@example.org until May 15 2020 including the following documents:
- CV in English or French.
- Personal statement in English or French.
- Project outline with images and technical drawings, if possible (in English or French)
- We also accept unfinished projects, which could use further funds in order to be completed, or finished projects, which could use further funds in order to be expanded upon. In the latter case, please outline how further funds will help your project.
- Budget planning in English or French.
The jury meeting will take place in the beginning of June. The applicants will be informed about the decisions immediately afterwards.