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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Episodes

Wednesday Nov 16, 2022

In 2010, we  – Wong & Krier – lived and worked for three months in Casa, as locals call Casablanca. Aim was to embrace the city as a place of production and to make a portrait of its hidden qualities: We named it: ICI Casa, Ville Inventive. The resulting exhibition was an optimistic tribute to the resourcefulness of a thriving city. Many questions however were left unanswered once the residency was over: for instance the fragility and invisibility of the – quite substantial –  informal economy, and the gentrification of the city through capital investors, materialised in luxury shopping malls. More than ten years and a pandemic later, we return to Casa, in search of who makes the city, who owns it, and who is granted access to it.  We start this series of conversations with our local insider Maria Daïf. Maria spent 15 years as a cultural journalist (print and radio), then turned to cultural mediation, supporting independent art projects throughout the African/Arabic region. She is a fire starter, curator, writer and an important voice in contemporary Casablanca.  We meet Maria at the seaside, where we look out on the beach, an obsolete concrete swimming pool and the Atlantic Ocean. We talk about the late 90ies, early 2000s when King Mohammed VI took over from his father Hassan II, Moroccan society opened up and Maria’s career as a journalist blossomed. We also talk about the complicated dance between the authority, the rules and the people. Maria describes the difficult cultural climate: how things come, go and come again.  A talk about the past, present and future of a city that Daïf loves, and is about to leave. A new rural existence lingers beyond the horizon.    References: Magazine: Femmes du Marcochttps://femmesdumaroc.com/Magazine: TELQUELhttps://telquel.ma/Creative collective Skefkefhttps://www.instagram.com/skefkefmag/Art/cutural space L’Uzinehttps://luzine.ma/ICI Casa, Ville Inventive (2010)https://sophiekrier.com/portfolio/ici-casa-ville-inventive/

Wednesday Sep 14, 2022

Imagine a cold, dark and rainy afternoon in November. The group (Dimitrova, Espinosa, Zahn, Wong, Krier and audiotechnician Robert) gathers under an old amusement park bumper-car-roof. We wear silent headphones with discolights. We are in the shadows of Haus der Statistik, that houses artistic and research based projects during its renovation. We use a score by Mia Habib and walk clockwise in circles. Robert stands in the middle, holding the mic.  A walking, searching conversation that covers most subjects we touched upon these past few days: fluidity, violence, urban capitalism, the relation between body, city and health. The tone of the conversation is committed yet bleak. At the end Sophie lights up the space by quoting Puddles the Pelican: “It’s gonna be alright, even if it’s not gonna be alright”.  References: Glossary of Urban Praxis, Werkstätte Berlin, 2022:https://www.urbanepraxis.berlin/glossary-of-urban-praxis/?lang=enModellprojekt Haus der Statistik:https://hausderstatistik.orgMia Habib: All, a physical form of protest:https://www.miahabib.com/?portfolio=all-a-physical-poem-of-protestBeyoncé, Formation:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WDZJPJV__bQBody of Bodies, Stadterweitern:https://stadterweitern.de/publicationA pluralistic universe, William James, 1908:https://journals.openedition.org/ejpap/756Neue Kreuzberger Kunstverein:https://www.nbk.org/deJeremy Wade aka Puddles the Pelican:https://showdownpodcast.podigee.io/69-new-episode

Wednesday Sep 14, 2022

We do realise that outside our hyperfocused Berlin bubble, this city hosts many other lives and voices that deserve to be heared and recognised. And that is why – in this short intermission – we make room for Doreen, Vasille, Fluss Puss and Johanna, Berliners we met while walking the streets. What does fluidity mean to them? What brought them here? Who exactly is Berlin? Berlin Pigeons:https://www.exberliner.com/berlin/berlin-pigeons/Fluss Pluss:https://soundcloud.com/flusspluss 

Wednesday Sep 14, 2022

Sabine Zahn lives and works in Berlin. She investigates how choreographic strategies can help understand how urban space can be lived, expressed and transformed. She creates public research projects and processes which are often based on scripts that set something – often bodies – in motion. In 2021, Sabine was appointed a fellow in the DAS Graduate programme in Amsterdam. We had this conversation at Floating University, a place for learning and experiment in a neglected water basin at the fringe of Kreuzberg. Zahn thrives in places like this, where new ways of living and being – human and more than human – can be tried out and ‘rehearsed’.  A talk at dusk, when the light faded and the cold started to creep in. A conversation about the body as a tool to understand words, and words as the start of a choreography.  References: Floating University Berlin:https://floating-berlin.org/Fremdgehen:http://www.lovelabours.net/Stadterweitern:https://stadterweitern.de/publicationDAS Graduate Programme:https://www.atd.ahk.nl/das-research/third/third-cohorts/sabine-zahn/ 

Wednesday Sep 14, 2022

Tomás Espinosa is artist and activist. He works in both in Berlin and Bogotá. The tension between the ‘intimate’ and the ‘public’ fuels his work. He installed two hanging mirrors with holes in a Berlin park, where men meet for sex. He filmed the installation and put a soundscape under it in which you hear Espinosa cruising through the greenery, making contact with other male bodies. Is this a disturbance of a secretive meeting place, or an attempt to emancipate? He took this installation to Bogotá where he engages since 2015 with La Red Comunitaria Trans, a trans activist network. Together they develop actions, performances and videos.  A talk on a crisp, cold morning about fighting violence, having sex in public places, the urgency of protest, the worth of a life and the darker sides of fluidity.  References: Tomás Espinosa:https://www.tomasespinosa.comLa Red Comunitaria Trans:https://redcomunitariatrans.orgCruising:https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cruising_for_sexNecropolitics, Achille Mbembe:https://criticallegalthinking.com/2020/03/02/achille-mbembe-necropolitics/ 

Wednesday Sep 14, 2022

Architectural researcher Kornelia Dimitrova co-founded Foundation We Are, a collective of nine creative minds and makers. We had a Warming Up Talk in 2020 with Kornelia and her co-founder Bernhard Lenger. Dimitrova’s analytic and bright approach of the built environment and social dynamics stuck with us, so we asked her to join us for our Berlin edition. In her own practice Dimitrova helps care organisations to address spatial and architectural issues by imagining alternative scenarios for use. In the past years she developed a strategic vision for De Grote Beek, one of the largest mental healthcare facilities in the Netherlands. Kornelia published her proposals in the Playbook for Healing Environments.  A talk – with a blazing fire in the background – about the value of mapping, working with what there is, and the art of proposing the right possibilities at the right time.  References: Kornelia Dimitrova:https://www.kodimitrova.com/The Institut für Sexualwissenschaft, Berlin (1919-1933):https://magnus-hirschfeld.de/ausstellungen/institute/Sectie C Eindhoven:https://www.sectie-c.com/site/Stock photography:https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stock_photography 

Wednesday Sep 14, 2022

We start every pluriversal trip with a joined experience: a vertical fieldtrip, or an ‘acupuncture of place’ as Sophie Krier calls it. Guided by participant Sabine Zahn we (Tomás Espinosa, Kornelia Dimitrova, Benoît Verjat, Sophie Krier and Erik Wong) attempt to ‘feel’ one of the oldest, but now quite nondescript parts of Berlin: Fisherinsel. Sabine invites us to use our whole body and all our senses. We start at motor ship Heimatland that houses Hošek Contemporary, a residency/studio space that functions as our home base.  We walk, jump, stumble, roll, smell, touch, listen and observe. At the end you can listen to some personal audio notes. A very physical start of our fluid trip. References: Fisherinsel:https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/FischerinselHošek Contemporary:https://www.hosekcontemporary.comBei Lydia:https://www.tripadvisor.ie/Restaurant_Review-g187323-d15036865-Reviews-Bei_Lydia-Berlin.html 

Wednesday Sep 14, 2022

Although in time it was our last conversation, we decided to start this string of talks with Daan van Kampenhout. His take on fluidity is inspiring and a perfect introduction to our series ‘Fluid selves, fluid Berlin’. Van Kampenhout’s interest in shamanism started after having vidid dreams during a malaria infection. He graduated from art school with a series of costumes and rituals. After a life of travel, learning, publishing and teaching, Van Kampenhout still combines his ritualistic, systemic practice with designing costumes and performing. A talk on a quiet winter day about antidotes for hate, mediating between matter and spirit, a queer ancestors ritual and the importance of Berlin’s KitKatClub as a fun, fluid techno temple.  References: Daan van Kampenhout:https://daanvankampenhout.com/Bert Hellinger:https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bert_HellingerStretch Festival/Village:https://www.stretch.berlin/Radical Faeries:https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Radical_FaeriesKitKatClub:https://www.kitkatclub.org/ 

Thursday Apr 21, 2022

Ghanaian-Filipino architectural scientist Mae-ling Lokko is active in the field of biomaterials. A recent work discussed in this talk is Thresholds of Return, a gate made of waste from the Ghanian coconut industry. It is a reconstruction of the Door of No Return in Elmina (Ghana), through which the enslaved were led out of Africa. Wong & Krier got to know about Lokko’s work in Mull through Tom Morton (Arc Architects), with whom she designed an ‘open air classroom’ for the Future by Design Cove park residency in the lead up to COP26. Designer and researcher Henriëtte Waal co-initiated Atelier Luma, an experimental design laboratory in Arles, France, in 2016. Among other programs, Waal helped set up a residency programme there for designers, which is how she first met Lokko. Waal’s system-level projects integrate design, community and ecology and involve collaborations with scientists, communities, an international network of makers, and students. In this joyful and at times technical Friday afternoon talk, Lokko and Waal share memories and insights about food as a community binder and talk about practices of hardscaping versus ‘mounding’ (contouring permeable earth) to resolve water circulation problems in cities. Mae-ling introduces the idea/theory of generative justice (the bottom up creation, translation and circulation of value) and very vividly describes her recent installation Thresholds of Return. Henriette chimes in when ‘bioregional design’ come to the table: localty and Co2 footprint are easily overlooked in biobased design. Let’s start from the feet up.  https://henriettewaal.com/about/www.z33.be/en/programma/mae-ling-lokko/

Thursday Apr 21, 2022

Just before we left we handed all the sounds we recorded along the way, over to sound engineer Martin Low. He mixed it into this soundscape. The last pearl of the string. Thank you Martin, Mull and everyone we’ve met along the way.

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