In Search of the Pluriverse

Can we as humans and other living beings learn to live together, in difference? Can we create a future that actually has a future? Join Sophie Krier and Erik Wong in their search for alternative perspectives, for radical imaginations, for a world in which many worlds can thrive. A search for something that is already present: the pluriverse is all around us. Wong and Krier have adopted a perspective put forward by Arturo Escobar in his book Designs for the Pluriverse: Radical Interdependence, Autonomy, and the Making of Worlds (Duke University Press, 2018). What are the consequences of these pluriversal notions in daily life? For their search Wong and Krier visit five locations at the fringes of Europe: İstanbul, Casablanca and Berlin (often seen as gateways to and from Central Asia, North Africa and old Europe) and two rural areas: the Isle of Mull and Asturias (as places for self-sufficient living). For every edition four makers join Erik and Sophie, two locally based, and two based in the Netherlands. Every conversation and encounter builds on the previous one in an effort to create a vibrant network that connects different places, different types of knowing and ways of living. Listen in, the door is open.

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Thursday Dec 22, 2022

After living a week under one roof, working together at the farm, walking together in silence, sharing breakfasts, dinners and thoughts, the group talk comes quite naturally. Here we are: Chiara, Ana, Pascale, Cynthia, Sophie and Erik, sitting in a circle in the shade of the biggest building in Spain, built during the Franco regime: Universidad Laboral de Gijón. After a tour of art centre LABoral and a soothing minute of silence we look back on the days we spent together.
A talk about capitalism and workers cooperatives, about poverty and looking for a better future by walking away from the harsh rural life. About the pros and cons of the revitalisation of industrial cities as Bilbao and Aviles. 
What did we learn, what do we take home? These are complex and confusing times, but our talk ends on a positive note: united we stand, plants and humans, and however small, changes can be made. There might me no ’them’ in capitalism, this week there was definitely an ‘us’. 
LABoral Centro de Arte y Creación Industrial, Gijón/Xixón: Laboral de Gijón, Spains’s biggest building: “Asturias, a wasted agricultural paradise” between Elena Bandera and Emilio Riccoón page on regional newspaper La voz de Asturias (the voice of Asturias)“Memorias culturales de un pasado industrial”, a film directed by University of Oviedo researchers Irene Díaz and Rubén Vega: radical unionism and the worker’s struggle in Spain: 

Thursday Dec 22, 2022

Pascale Gatzen fell in love with fashion as a child, became a designer and quickly fell out of love with the competitive, capitalistic fashion system. In New York she co-founded the workers cooperative Friends of Light that fabricated custom made woven jackets from local wool. This experience evolved into the Dutch ‘Linen Project’ an – also – cooperative attempt to create a value chain from growing organic flax to making linen products with the harvested and processed fibres. 
Collaboration comes with communication. Gatzen got interested in ‘empathic communication’ and made that the core of an artistic Master she set up in Arnhem, The Netherlands. 
A conversation about getting in touch with felt emotions and underlyning needs, ‘should thoughts’, the succesful Mondragon cooperative and the love for making beautiful things that will never fade.  
The Linen Project of Light weaving cooperative: read: Take back Fashion! by Pascale Gatzen for Apria/ArteZ: non-violent communication (what Pascale calls ‘compassionate communication’): the Mondragon worker cooperative: 

Thursday Dec 22, 2022

We decide to have the conversation in a parked car, with an enormous hand made world-of-wool-map on our lap. As if we are on an imaginary roadtrip through Cynthia Hathaway’s practise. It fits her way of working: creating fun, momentum and dialogue. Canadian born Hathaway came to the Netherlands in the late 90ies. She calls herself an artistic ‘searcher’ without the re- attached. Always looking for surprising angles and ways to connect different fields of working and thinking. From miniature trains to giant vegetables, from founding a disco in an academic institute to growing potatoes to embody Gilles Deleuze’s Rhizomatic thinking. Her latest intervention: a wool march. A walk with a herd of 250 sheep, shepherds and dogs straight through the centre of the Dutch textile city Tilburg. To raise awareness for lost connections between humans, animals and landscape. 
A talk about the art of not knowing, the dedication of amateurs, the loud Asturian hills, the global versus the local and the ongoing beat of disco music. Yeah. 
More about Cynthia Hathaway: about Wool Alliance for Social Agency: D Academy, Sandberg Instituut: Department of Search (Zero Footprint Campus): 

Thursday Dec 22, 2022

We asked Chiara Sgaramella to join our Asturias edition because her practice as an artistic researcher focusses on the connection between art and agriculture. She was born and raised in the heel of Italy’s boot, but currently lives and works in Valencia, Spain. Sgaramella sees art as an integrated part of daily life, as a collective effort. From this perspective she studies the relations between soil, food and culture. We all know paella as a dish, but what do we know about rice production in Spain? When and how did rice arrive as a crop in Europe? Chiara developed a travelling trolley about the subject. 
A talk – that took place in the hazel forest close to PACA – about eco-feminist art, the Zapatistas, radical interdependency and the impact of scarcity. 
Immediately after the group talk (#8) Sgaramella needed leave for Piemonte, Italy, where she took part in a 1 year residency. Chiara worked with abandoned tools, found in a barn. She reproduced these ‘extensions of farmers hands’ in large prints, as an ode to agricultural gestures. 
More about Chiara Sgaramella: the symbolic association between Covadonga (a prechristian place of worship near  Picos de Europa) and the Spanish/catholic identity: Possible World, exhibition including works by Zapatista in Museum Reina Sofiá: about Chiara’s Oryza rice trolley:‘Dona arbre’, Fina Miralles, 197oies: 

Thursday Dec 22, 2022

Ana Carreño takes us to public beach in Gijón/Xixon that is sandwiched between two industrial sites. While we look for a spot for our the interview we pass three women on a bench. One of them is singing. She says she used to sing a lot when she was young. Singing is a rural tradition. As a young woman she moved to the city for work and stopped singing. 
A job in the mines or the steel industry was an escape from rural poverty. But since the 80ies, when Spain joined the EU, mines were closed and industry declined. Architect and researcher Carreño studies the post industrial landscape. What happens when the activitity disappears, but memories and remnants are still present? This spatial confusion – or heterotopia as Michel Foucault calls it – comes with challenges and opportunities. Carreño grew up here, her grandfather drove the coal train from the mines in Aviles the harbour of Gijon. What kind of future does she picture for this shrinking city? How to deal with degrowth?
We dive into the economic history of the region and talk about the current spatial quality of the city. We look the revitalisation of Bilbao: from industrial community to cultural hub. But not every jobless mineworker can become a barista in a glossy coffeeshop. We also touch upon Ana’s own practise as an architect and artist. Does she consider Heterotopia as her habitat?
More on Ana Carreño: ‘heteropías’ (plural places): on regional singing: 

Thursday Dec 22, 2022

Our guests, Ana Carreño, Chiara Sgaramella, Pascale Gatzen en Cynthia Hathaway have arrived. Before we dive into our 1 on 1 conversations, we try – as always – to truly arrive where we are. To ground, to temporarily root and sprout. To share this ‘vertical field trip’ we take you on a sonic tour. From Madrid's busy café's, to our cross-country train ride. Once you arrive in Asturias you witness a morning full of farm stuff and in the afternoon Ana Carreño takes us (and you dear listener!) on a silent sound walk through the industrial landscape that surrounds the farmhouse we stay in. And what a loud landscape it is! Enjoy. 
More about PACA, Proyectos Artísticos Casa Antonino:‘Panera’ or ‘hórreo asturiano’ (raised granary barn): about the blue vegetal dye harvested from Isatis Tinctoria: Interesting read: ‘Nothing Compares to the Past. Industrial Decline and Socio-Cultural Change in Asturias’, by Rubén Vega and Matthew Kerry 

Thursday Dec 22, 2022

We have arrived in Asturias! We stay in a wonderful former casería (farm house), turned into a residence: PACA, Projectos Artisticos Casa Antonino. Before our guests arrive we have time to walk around the premises and talk with Virginia López founder of PACA and our contextual guide for this week. 
But first: why are we here, in central Asturias, Spain, at the rural fringes of the (post)industrial city of Gijón/Xixón? We travelled here wondering if the strong working class identity of the region with its unions, strikes, and hard fought victories still lives on today, as the industrial decline that started in the 80ies, continues. At the same time, we see that tourism and leisure are becoming an important economic activity and ‘rewilding’ is high on the agenda of policy makers, making it food for marketeers who advertise Asturias as a ‘natural paradise’. Reality is obviously way more complex than a marketing slogan. Will the worker’s culture of solidarity be the social foundation for Asturias future? And can this future be a plural future – that doesn’t deny Asturias’ pastoral past and – more rural – ways of helping each other out?
In this talk we learn more about the region and reasons why Virginia returned to her home ground. A talk about forgotten connections between people, animals and crops and the confused state of the landscape as a result of this. We look at Virginia’s artistic practice and her role as placemaker. López sees herself as an outgoing swarm of bees and a solitude seeking hermit at the same time. Where will this paradox take her in the near future?
Agropolitana exhibition: Paisajistas: of the Red Difusa documentary by Green Cube Network: summary of the publication ‘Culturarios · Humus De Iniciativas Culturales En El Campo’ (scroll down): de Pitos y Flautas, by Fernando Oyágüez Reyes: 

Thursday Dec 22, 2022

Before we travel to Asturias, we decide to make a pitstop in Madrid and visit the headquarters of INLAND:  CAR, Centre For Approaching The Rural. Back in 2009, Fernando Garcia Dory started an agro-cutural-artistic community in Asturias. This was one of the reasons for us to set up our pluriversal camp in this region. This initiative evolved into a much bigger, international movement: INLAND/Campo Adentro, linking territory, culture and social change. While Fernando Dory travels the world to manifest and communicate the ideas of INLAND, Amelie Aranguren runs the Madrid office, which turns out to be much more than that. A house, a home, a neighourhood hub…
A talk about cheese as a narrative, transhumance, worthless wool, tensions around common pastures and foremost: making valuable and durable connections. 
More about CAR (Centro de Acercamiento a lo rural): about INLAND: 

Thursday Dec 08, 2022

During the exhibition In Search of the Pluriverse at Het Nieuwe Instituut (April-August 2022), artist, cook and weaver Aslı Hatipoğlu handed out sachets of sourdough culture, micro-organisms with which you can make dough for bread. To help all potential home-bakers getting started, but also because baking bread together is more fun and energy efficient, we organised two baking days in late spring and early summer. 
On a rainy day in June sourdough enthousiasts gather around the communal oven ‘De Stoker’ in Rotterdam neighbourhood Bospolder-Tussendijken. We talk, exchange, listen, learn, reflect and bake. Conclusion: bread is fundamental. Join us for 35 minutes of ‘bread time stories’. About microbes, time, the energy transition, community, poverty and sustainability.
In this podcast English and Dutch are both used. This edition came about as a collaboration between the Travelling Academy and Bakkerij De Eenvoud.    
More Aslı Hatipoğlu  (check her linktree) Huis van de Toekomst: bakkerij De Eenvoud Eshuis’s initiatief:

Wednesday Nov 16, 2022

Artist, cook, boxer, musician and cultural producer Yemoh Odoi was fascinated as a child by the desert and its nomadic inhabitants. The silence, the space, the absence of people and references. He left Ghana at the age of 18 and travelled his way up to Casablanca via Senegal and the magnificent Sahara. 
He founded The Minority Globe to give voice to migrant identities through art. On our last day in Casa, the exhibition ‘Look at me’ opened. Photos of migrant women, taken by migrant women. “A migrant isn’t given anything. You’ve got to take. These women are taking their space.”
A talk about emptiness. About how the absence of ‘everything else’ brings out true creativity. As Yemoh says it: “In the desert you can only hear the songs that are composed in your heart”. 
The Minority Globe at me Odoi on music as a cultural mediator

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