(Re-)Gaining Ecological Futures

23.-30.7.2021 Floating University, Berlin, Germany

With: Avtonomi Akadimia Athens, Andreas Bolz, Manuela Bosch, Die Boden Schafft (Martina Kolarek), Shelley Etkin, Giuliana Kiersz, Brandon LaBelle, Erika Mayr, Pallavi Paul, Carla Schulte-Fischedick (LaKunaBi), Sharon Stewart, Lin Wang

Curated by: Berit Fischer

Funded by: Stiftung Kunstfonds, Neustart Kultur, Draussenstadt

(Re)-Gaining Ecological Futures is a week-long series of affective encounters and collective engagements situated at the site of the Floating University. The series activates forms of recuperation for a regenerative ecological being with the world.

Ecology is understood here as the entangled relation of all living organisms to one and another and to their physical surroundings – including the social and human organism, a complex transspecies synthesis in itself. The week shares proposals to reflect and act on how we contribute to shaping these inter-relations and inter-actions and critically engages with the human-centred ontology and the dualism between nature and culture. (Re-)Gaining Ecological Futures exercises and mobilises alternative imaginaries and sets of relations between multiple others in a mutually enforcing and regenerative way. It holistically connects transdisciplinary practices for the making of empowered and empowering social and more-than-human subjects.

Today’s un-homey environmental, socio- and geo-political atmospheres and exploitative capitalist driven existence, do call for new and resurging modes of response-ability, for new modes of thinking, new forms of agency and kinship systems, that affectively acknowledge our intrinsically intertwined co-existence with the so called non-human ‘Other’ and the natural world as a rights-holding subject. Questions about alternatives ways of how we want to live together as humans and with our ecological environment are more urgent than ever. How can we learn from the natural world, how to create new synthesis in our technocratic times for a more inclusive and ‘cosmo-logical’ knowing? 

OPENING: Friday 23 July, 2021 18-21h

Avtonomi Akadimia Athens: §0 Ritual for the God of the Toxic Rainwater Retention Basin

Indigenous cultures inspire bioethical laws and the criminalization of ecocide, as well as a legislative pluralism achieved through the strength of decolonization movements. A self-organized Grassroots University and Permacultural artwork –Avtonomi Akadimia– together with other groups in Athens, have declared a legal precedent for granting Ecological Personhood in Europe: #LegalRights4AkadimiaPlatonosJungle. Continuing the expansion of transindigenous animistic cosmologies, Avtonomi Akadimia will perform a ritual for the God of this toxic Rainwater Retention Basin. The God of this Rainwater Retention Basin is the brother and sister of “Yomshinger,” the God of Vanished Water who has a place in the pantheon of Mari culture and is a comrade-in-arms of the Akadimia Platonos Jungle. The rainwater retention basin, a place of the common, can be honoured as sacred, regardless of its toxicity. The ritual will be performed by shamans, curanderas and other ambassadors of various indigenous cultures in the Global North who will announce a new legislative invention: §0. With our ritual, we thank the indigenous activists currently fighting on the front lines of defending the world jungle. Please bring anything that might help them, and therefore us.

Avtonomi Akadimia was founded by, and is organised by indigenous artist and ecofeminist Joulia Strauss. The ritual was developed collectively by Txana Bane, Saskia Baumgart, Sina Ataein Dena, Ali Dowlatshahi, Peyman Farahani, Ava Irandoost, Olga Klein, Lukas Kuni, Kathy Makuani, Maxi Nitsche, Joulia Strauss, Lima Wafadar. http://avtonomi-akadimia.net, http://joulia-strauss.net/de/

Andreas Bolz: Biogenic Tune

Biogenic Tune is a live performed site related ambient composition in musical patterns that experiments with the natural geophonic and biophonic soundscapes found for example in urban environments and urban sound pollution. The human brain is processing thousands of different man-made or natural sonic stimuli every day. Do we still have an awareness for the geo- and biophonic soundscapes in our daily urban life? Biogenic Tune is an experimental musical composition of synthesized sounds and beats that are interwoven with field-recordings of the rainwater retention basin.

Andreas Bolz (aka Bolz Bolz) is a musician, composer and producer since the early 1990s. In addition to his contribution to electronic dance music he works experimentally with influences such as Krautrock or Fusion Jazz from the 1970s.

Pallavi Paul: Share Your Quiet

Globally the Covid-19 pandemic has unleashed cacophonous and bullish displays of ‘nationalism’ and exclusivist unities. There are many, however, who do not wish to participate in these republics of noise. Human vulnerability and extra human agency seem to be obscured by the feverish din of capital, conspiracy theories and narrow sectarianism. While noises can be heard and measured, there seems to be no way of quantifying the ‘quiets’ that resist and interrupt this swathe. A space is, therefore, needed to hold quietude as an active political critique of this moment. It is to nourish this space that we initiate an online project called #shareyourquiet. We invite people to share 10-20 second recordings of their ‘quiet’. Here, quiet is not a tranquil break from the world, rather a marker of the tempestuous churning we find ourselves in. We encourage you to read quietude in its widest, most political and accommodative registers. Liberated from the syntax of productivity, a deeper listening and sharing is underway. This is an ongoing participatory archive of our world. A site to revisit later. These entries will finally be uploaded on the website and will be freely downloadable from there.

Pallavi Paul works with video, performance, and installation. Her practice speaks to poetic exploration of cultural histories, questioning the limits of speculation, facticity and evidence. Paul is also engaged in thinking about ideas of the archive, tensions between document and documentary and the implication of trace within these openings.

Lin Wang: Gongfu Cha – Tea with Lin

Drinking tea, banal as it might sound, is not as simplistic. The Chinese character for tea 茶 – a person 人 in the middle of grass 艹and wood 木 – already conveys the tea-leaf as something that connects man with nature. Gongfu Cha is a ritual of taking time and consciously celebrating the complexity of a leaf of tea. From one infusion to the other, sip by sip, observe how the taste and aroma unfolds and transforms, how it stimulates our awareness of our surroundings and connectivity with our body, mind and feeling. It opens up space for slowing down, coming back to ourselves and inspires joyful connectivity and togetherness. In this Chinese tea session, Lin invites us on a sensory journey together with carefully selected tea leaves from small tea farmers or that are handmade by professional tea makers.

Lin Wang is a tea practitioner and facilitator. She offers slow tea sessions and creates spaces for peace, joy and beauty over finest whole leaf teas from China and Taiwan. Further information on Instagram: @tea_with_lin

Daily collective engagements: 24 -30 July

Saturday 24 July

13-16h Sharon Stewart: Listening Deeply – Communing with the Rainwater Basin

Pauline Oliveros describes Deep Listening® as “listening in every possible way to everything possible to hear no matter what one is doing”. Deep Listening cultivates a heightened awareness of the sonic environment, both external and internal, and promotes experimentation, improvisation, collaboration, playfulness and other creative skills vital to personal and community growth. During this encounter, Stewart will be sharing Deep Listening practices and scores – by Pauline Oliveros, IONE and Heloise Gold – and guiding the group towards a collective non-verbal communing with vital entities of the rainwater retention basin of the Floating University. Slowing the body and mind, engaging in guided listening meditations, communing with the sonosphere through text scores and Sonic Meditations, amplifying and transforming dream feelings, and exploring the site in a non-verbal communion with its lively beings will lead towards individual and/or collaborative creations. 

Sharon Stewart is a creator of sound works, researcher, musician, poet, and Deep Listener who takes part in local climate activism and initiatives. www.SoundCloud.com/SharonrStewart. More information on Deep Listening: https://www.deeplistening.rpi.edu/deep-listening/

17-20h Erika Mayr: Transspecies Relations with Bees

Honeybees survive as a superorganism. They are adaptive and creative life-forms shifting in a world of energies. A superorganism itself has no eyes, an individual bee has no hearing. Bees perceive information mostly by using their very own parameters which seem unrelated to the ones of the human world. Still, there is a strong bond between their existence and our lives and there is an intimate connection between us. They are in an ongoing and ever-shifting communication and relationship with the environment. Bees improve human and non-human relationships in a way that allow us to experience true co-existence. If we do not persist to control them, they will teach us. Stepping back means stepping into a world before ours, to which we still belong. We will scout for honeybees in the basin and then enter the apiary of Jonas. Observing the entrances of the hives we will learn more about survival strategies focusing on self-care, zero-waste, the power of abundance and knowledge transfer. Let the bees tell you.

Erika Mayr is an activist urban beekeeper who loves the dynamics of bee colonies. She installs apiaries in specific urban places where bees show their survival power while transforming locations into energetic fields. www.stadtbienenhonig.com

Sunday 25 July

13-16h Shelley Etkin: Submerging

How can we experience porous exchanges between the inner realities of our bodies and the outer environments we move through? By bringing our attention simultaneously to the waterways of our bodies and the water basin of this site, we will explore tools for perceiving felt-communication between these spheres. We will tune this through sensing into the filtration actions of particular organs, the fluidity of the bones, the cleansing and restoration processes within ourselves. Through embodied practice, we will reflect on how these currents ripple through layers of thought, emotion, and socio-political formations. Acknowledging the toxicity of the water basin, we can question what we habitually exclude and see how detoxification and regeneration are ongoing processes within ourselves and potentially in the site of the Floating University. Together, we will also learn how to co-create a flower essence through encountering the subtle qualities of a particular plant blooming there at the time of our gathering. Each participant will have the option of going home with a bottle of this situated submerging medicine.

Shelley Etkin is a transdisciplinary artist, educator, gardener working with relations among bodies and lands through expanding practices of pedagogy, healing, and embodied perception. www.shelleyetkin.com

17-20h Manuela Bosch: Sensing Our Collective Future with Social Presencing Theatre (SPT)

Social Presencing Theatre (SPT) is an art form that integrates contemplative practice, embodiment and dialogue. The social practice sharpens self-inquiry and systemic views on social change. It was developed by choreographer, performer and educator Arawana Hayashi and scholar Otto Scharmer. It is not ‘theatre’ in the conventional sense, instead it offers a blank stage for simple body postures and movements to dissolve limiting concepts, to access intuition, and to make visible both current reality, and the deeper –often invisible– points for creating profound change and future possibilities. SPT evokes the unspoken. It activates and brings together our knowing-body, the use of our unconscious embodied knowledge with group intelligence and creative expression. Through SPT we will explore our greatest possible future as it emerges.

Manuela Bosch is a facilitator and guide for transformational experiences. She works with various unconventional techniques that include body, consciousness and nature. https://manuelabosch.de/

Monday 26 July


Tuesday 27 July

13-16h Die Boden Schafft (Martina Kolarek): COMPOSTAETHICS

What will happen, if we change our perspectives from an anthropocentric to a multispecies view? How are nature/culture relations currently shaped in technocratic cultures, like in natural sciences, agricultures and nature conservation institutions? And are we able to overcome the loss of fertile soils and biodiversity by ecologic and transdisciplinary practices?Hot composting is a dynamic procedure creating matter and energy to enrich soils and to soften climate change in a fair and economic way. You´ll learn about the interconnections between compost and living microbiomes, and how healing the power of non-biotechnological composting can be. Theoretically we´ll focus on the ethical implications and interspecies relations between humans and non-humans as the main principles of this process.

Die Boden Schafft is an initiative for a new soil science and culture in Berlin, founded by Martina Kolarek, a biochemist, soil scientist and terrestrial artist in Berlin. www.die-boden-schafft.de/art.aspx

Wednesday 28 July

13-16h Die Boden Schafft (Martina Kolarek): COMPOSTAETHICS – Day 2

17-20h Brandon LaBelle: From the Perspective of the Enemy

Approaches to ecological thinking may overlook how natural systems are bound to the dynamics of predation: how ecologies find their balance through interactions of prey and predator. This finds elaboration in the writings of Eduardo Viveiros de Castro whose work on Amerindian societies captures how predation extends within scenes of colonialism. What does it mean to be an enemy? By following the figure of the shaman, and Amerindian practices of “eating the enemy”, Viveiros de Castro shows how enemy relations are integral to planetary thinking, or what he terms “savage thought”. In this encounter, we’ll consider savage thought, questioning how the capacity to see the world through the eyes of the enemy grounds us in a holistic view that does not conveniently neutralize the other. Rather, through shared readings and discussion we’ll explore savage thought in order to trouble liberal notions of inclusivity. Finally, we’ll investigate the concept of “wild law” posed by Cormac Cullinan which seeks to attune human systems of governance with the Earth community. What does wild law consist of and how does it impact onto our forms of life? What might a “practice of the wild” be and how does this shape ecological relation?

Brandon LaBelle is an artist and writer focusing on questions of listening, agency and community, and runs the independent publishing label, Errant Bodies Press, Berlin. www.brandonlabelle.net

Thursday 29 July

13-16h Brandon LaBelle: From the Perspective of the Enemy – Day 2

17-20h Giuliana Kiersz: Future Territories, a Writing Gathering to Create the Futures We Wish to Inhabit

The writing gathering is a sensitive and political space in which to reflect on the territories that we collectively inhabit. Imagining futures not as a distant time or reality, but as the possibilities that build our present, we aim to create new narratives for the societies we want to live in. We will explore the territories where we are and look for the places where they open up to other futures. By investigating our relationship with language, we intend to expand the dimensions of words so as to perceive beyond our ideas of what exists. We will use an empathic approach, working in groups and from questions, letting our practices be contaminated by collecting, observing and listening.

Giuliana Kiersz is a writer and artist. Her methods explore our relationship with language, reflecting within specific contexts to create fantasies that move our social and political horizon. https://giulianakiersz.com

Friday 30 July

13-16h Giuliana Kiersz: Future Territories, a Writing Gathering to Create the Futures We Wish to Inhabit – Day 2

17-20h Carla Schulte-Fischedick (LaKunaBi): Hands-On-Remedies for Sustainability in Everyday Life

Based on your individual interests*, I would like to offer you real-life and easy to remember inspirations from my network and my own daily life and to collectively work out hands-on solution kits towards various small and (in)visible steps, in which the big picture is not forgotten. How to playfully implement climate-, resource- and biodiversity protection in our professional and everyday life?

*Possible topics: How you can have a big impact with little effort, and in doing so, discover new spaces of possibility / What e.g. water, fashion and repair cafés not only have to do with resource protection, but also with health and agency of the self / How the ‘mystery’ of waste separation can be sensibly implemented and what alternatives there are / What is the connection between the appreciation for food, paper, climate and species protection? / How you can constructively question the use of your own finances in everyday life and twist them to have a positive effect/ And how you can reconcile a good life for all with your ecological backpack

Carla Schulte-Fischedick is, among other things, a creative-activist practitioner, networker and multiplier for a future that is sustainable for our grandchildren. She is the founder of the Laboratory for Art and Sustainable Education, Labor für Kunst und Nachhaltige Bildung, LaKunaBi. http://www.lakunabi.de/