ASSEMBLED ECOLOGIES

2020 - 2024

How might we re-write our current methods for co-existing with the world?

As an artist and researcher, I seek to make visible the limits of dominant Western ideologies that for centuries, have shaped our understanding of the natural world.  During my coursework at Utrecht University’s MA Arts and Society, I began to develop a long-term artistic research project, Assembled Ecologies. Conceived as a series of ongoing, situated investigations located at the intersection of nature and culture, Assembled Ecologies charts and challenges the dominant ideologies which shape our understanding of the natural world to propose a viable alternative of kinship in our relatings. The goal of Assembled Ecologies is to engage in experimental fieldwork practices and build relations between unlikely but necessary collaborators that work to reorient western society’s relation with the environment.

 

My ongoing experience oscillates between the visual arts, society and the humanities to bring about meaningful and generative change within the cultural field.  The following archive is a compounding page of events, performances news publications and supplementary information dedicated to research process for works and interventions tied to Assembled Ecologies. 

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ASSEMBLED ECOLOGIES: REFRAMING KINSHIP

Artist Residency at Cultureland, Amsterdam. 2020 

 

In this iteration of Assembled Ecologies, titled: Reframing Kinship I worked between the urban and the rural landscape of the Netherlands in order to blur the often-dichotomous narrative between these two spaces.  For me, it was critical to occupy these two spaces and poetically weave the false sense of separation, into a visibly entangled and holistic cultural narrative.  In doing so I could establish a connection to place and restoring our feeling of being at home and belonging in the world, in spite of global uncertainty.

 

My research activities began with the garden as a tool to think through time, the urban and rural with. My task was to translate the experience of the rural into objects such as drawings, paintings, hand spun threads, a film, and an artist book in order to answer the main research question: What are the participatory acts with the landscape that draw on the necessary processes to sustain life on the polder?  Moreover, this research period gave me the time to test out methods to more effectively practice theoretical frameworks such of diffraction, naturecultures, assemblages, and temporalities. 

 

The goals of this research were to collect narrative interviews from the urban and through various artistic acts, I critiqued on how landscape is depicted through in botanical drawings and painting.  Furthermore, I investigated just how Western culture idealizes landscape and by doing so, it removes living processes and species from the very ecologies that sustain them.  After providing a critique of the iconic image of the Dutch polder, I proposed an alternative frame of thought for the land, as one that harbors the potential to become a bio-diverse ecology through our participation with the landscape. Therefore, in my research, I engaged in a series participatory acts with the landscape which draw on necessary processes of sustain life on the polder. The evidence of this process is made visible through a constellation of various artifacts found alongside this text.

Thinking Object:  Fieldwork Archive

 

How can we participate in our landscape, if the very cultural structures we make, separate us from living processes?

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Research Object: Publication Diffracting Dialogs

 

An introduction to my interview method using the concept of diffraction in conversations with: Alice Smits, Ioana Biris, Jessica van Bossum, Natascha Hagenbeek, and Maike van Stiphout

Thinking Object:  Hand-spun wool yarn

 

Description of process and thinking towards togetherness.  Consider: fibers as individuals twisting together for collective, ongoing change.

Photo: Dominik Fleischmann

Research Object: Film, Ongoing 

 

A contemplative film of the cycles necessary to sustain life on the polder and the threads that keep us tied to the generative in life. 

 

On The Nature of a Name

Performative lecture in collaboration with Marit Mihklepp

Framer Framed, Amsterdam. 2020

Unknowing the Known 

Film and Live Performance with Rosalie Wammes, 2020

When a universal system takes precedent over the particularities of ecologies, complex systems become covered up, disconnected and unmade.  The Western knowledge of plant uses is gathered not by listening to the plants themselves but by an instructional knowledge of utility. Artists Amy Pekal and Marit Mihklepp created a playful performative lecture entitled On the Nature of a Name that investigates the etymology of plant species. With the use of the Latin and indigenous names in the Hortus Botanicus Amsterdam, Pekal and Mihklepp draw attention to the relations between plant species and how they might communicate and evolve with each other. The performance, operating alongside Framer Framed’s exhibition On the Nature of Botanical Gardens, embodies a decolonial lens to challenge the garden and begins to make efforts in the reparations of lost indigenous knowledge within the institutions botanical collection.

A contemplative Zoom meditation on our current methods of co-existing with the world. A film by Amy Pekal with a score and performance by Rosalie Wammes

 

Assembling the Natureculture Garden

A Diffractive Ethnography of the Utrecht Oude Hortus, 2020

This thesis questions the dominant western narratives towards nature through a situated, diffractive ethnography of the Utrecht Oude Hortus. It examines limitations of the framing the former botanic garden as a record of European cultural hegemony. Moreover, it uses assemblages, naturecultures and heterotopia as a conceptual framework to specifically ask: How do assemblages within naturecultures become visible in the Oude Hortus and how does temporality and care play a critical role in making a possible natureculture garden? In doing so, this body of work recognizes the garden as a capitalist-patriarchal-formation, questions the potential qualities of temporality and of care as dynamic and intra-active forces and proposes an alternative narrative for the garden as one of naturecultures This thesis is a result of artistic research and situated in the academic natureculture debate alongside the work of Anna Lowenhaupt Tsing, Donna J. Haraway, Karen Barad, Bruno Latour, Tobias Rees among others. It is a result of theory, methodological experimentation and scholarly analysis combined with the artworks, included in the appendix as supplementary evidence. This body of research creates a textured portrait the Utrecht Oude Hortus that imagines the garden as one of naturecultures.

 

 

 

Keywords: artistic research, assemblage, care, ethnography, heterotopia, naturecultures, temporality, time. 

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Research Object: Publication Assembling the Natureculture Garden: A Diffractive Ethnography of the Utrecht Oude Hortus

 

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