Po-Hao CHI, Rae HSU, Nancy VALLADARES / Tinkerer’s Program: Margaux WHEELOCK-SHEW / Felipe CASTELBLANCO, Lydia ZIMMERMANN, Ñambi Rimai Pan Amazon Media Collective / Allison Leigh HOLT / Julia MENSCH, Naomi HENNING
CURATOR: Rasa SMITE / Location: zoom(online) / RIXC Gallery (onsite)
Po-Hao CHI, Rae HSU, Nancy VALLADARES. DJULIS001. 3000 Years Among Microbes (10 min Presentation and Q&A) (MIT ACT 2021)
Tinkerer’s Program (with MIT ACT): Margaux WHEELOCK-SHEW. Testing Grounds, Part I (8 min + 8 min)
Felipe CASTELBLANCO, Lydia ZIMMERMANN, Ñambi Rimai Pan Amazon Media Collective. Ayenan: Water Territories (35 min + 5 min Q&A)
Allison Leigh HOLT. Stitching the Future with Clues (15 min + 5 min Q&A)
Julia MENSCH, Naomi HENNING. Ese ajeno sur (35 min)
Po-Hao CHI, Rae HSU, Nancy VALLADARES. DJULIS001. 3000 Years Among Microbes
“3000 Years Among Microbes” is a collaborative project presented by Zone Sound Creative studio from Taiwan. MIT ACT graduates Po-Hao Chi, Rae Hsu, and Nancy Valladares initiated the project to investigate a language distinguished from metaphors of colonization. They are interdisciplinary artists with diverse backgrounds and an interest in non-human perspectives.
DJULIS001 is about the reunion between the Mars indigenous and the “human” ancestor bacteria, retrieved from the “3000 Years Among Microbes” project. The project’s title came from an unpublished manuscript by American writer Mark Twain in 1905. The story is about a microbiologist mistakenly turned into a bacteria by a magician and observed the world from a nonhuman perspective that retained its human memory. Inspired by this story, the team took a microbial view and created a fictional character of extremophile bacteria that inhabits Mars. During project development, Zone Sound Creative studio and artists visited Taiwan National Space Organization and a NASA lunar mock-up base in the Western Desert during the 1960s space race, filmed on locations, and collected microbial samples. Juxtaposing extreme landscapes with microscopic images blurs the distinction between humans and microbes and further replaces the human “individual” definition with the concept of “holobiont.” It speculates on an alternative space future through rapidly evolving technologies from the microbial to the planetary scale, with the logic of “symbiosis” and “kinship.” Project website: https://3000yearsamongmicrobes.com/
Tinkerer’s Program (with MIT ACT): Margaux WHEELOCK-SHEW. Testing Grounds, Part I (8 min + 8 min)
Testing Grounds (I) was shot the Summer of 2021 while returning from a scouting trip in northern New Mexico. The video was shot from a Boeing 737 of the evaporation ponds, wind plants, and crop irrigation systems of central Utah. Testing grounds is the first in a trilogy if works examining haptic modes of vision in relation to the landscape.
Margaux Wheelock-Shew is an architect, educator, and artist, currently living and working between Boston and New York City. They are a graduate of The Cooper Union and an M. Arch II candidate at Harvard Graduate School of Design. Their work is centralized around interrogations of ground as a non-static backdrop that defines and records.
Felipe Castelblanco, Lydia ZIMMERMANN, Ñambi Rimai Pan Amazon Media Collective. Ayenan: Water Territories (Film)
‘Ayenan’ is the smallest particle in the universe that jumpstarts life.
This film documents a counter-expedition that follows the upward movement of water throughout its natural cycle, going from the Andean-Amazon foothills to the Atlantic Ocean on the coast of Colombia. Along the way, the journey reveals the traces of a long-forgotten expedition in search of El Dorado and the territorial philosophy of Indigenous groups from the region. Climbing up from a river in the lower Amazon to a lake in the upper Andes, members of Ñambi Rimai Media Collective come to a sacred landscape in order to plant water back into the mountain and return a long-lost treasure. Together they create an offering, a ritual, which embodies situated forms of biocultural peace-building between regions, cultures, and non-human worlds.
Felipe Castelblanco is a multidisciplinary artist and researcher working at the intersection of participatory, film, and Media Art. His work explores institutional forms, creates platforms for inter-epistemic dialogue, and engages and unlikely audiences in remote places. Felipe holds an MFA from Carnegie Mellon University (USA) and earned a Ph.D. from the Kunstuniversität Linz (Austria) and the Make/Sense Graduate School (Basel HGK), exploring avenues for epistemic justice in the Colombian Pan-Amazon region. In 2015 he served as a Cultural Emissary for the U.S State Department to the Philippines, through which he developed an ambitious participatory project around inter-cultural diplomacy at sea. Felipe has been the recipient of several international awards, including the Starr Fellowship at the Royal Academy Schools in London, a Robert Rauschenberg Foundation Residency, and was the 2021 finalist for the Breakthrough Awards from the Breaking Walls Foundation in Berlin for his efforts towards biocultural peacebuilding in Colombia. Recent shows include the 2019 Quebec Biennial, Helmhaus Zurich (Switzerland), Seasons of Media at ZKM in Karlsruhe (Germany), and the Queens International at the Queens Museum in New York.
Filmmaker, artist & mentor, Swiss and Spanish.
BA in film at the Victorian College of the Arts, Melbourne.
MA in Transdisciplinarity at the University of the Arts, Zurich, ZHdK.
I have written, edited, and directed shorts, feature narrative films, tv movies, documentaries, and produced video installations for art galleries and museums. I have had the privilege to teach film in schools, universities, and NGOs.
For the past 20 years, I have been experimenting with the media, in and out the commercial frame. Observing and listening are my working tools and I believe
that film has many forms: it can be a door, a dream, a letter, a mirror, a scream, an exorcism. A weaver of relationships and sometimes a story,
I have filmed and taught film in Spain, Switzerland, Australia, Guatemala, Haiti, Burkina Faso, Myanmar, Ecuador, and Colombia. Educated in two cultures using four tongues, I like to bridge between people and places capturing the presence of both.
I am currently developing film projects with Artisan Films, Eddie Saeta Productions, Testamento PC, and Ralda World. SL.
In the field of artistic research, I am the founding member and curator of Kunstruktur, a Zurich-based artistic collective dedicated to seeding human kindness through the media of film, storytelling, and performative actions. In Barcelona, I am the co-curator of Curtidas, an artist residency, and space for artistic-social exchange and experimentation.
Ñambi Rimai is a new Indigenous Media Collective operating in the Colombian Pan Amazon region, between the high Andes and the lower Amazon. This initiative emerged after a series of workshops and field work conducted by Felipe Castelblanco in 2018/2020 while working in close cooperation with the central government of the Inga Nation and Ambulante Colombia. The mission of the Media Collective is to support processes of self-governance, preservation of cultural, territorial control and communication all across the territories and beyond.
Allison Leigh HOLT. Stitching the Future with Clues
Stitching the Future with Clues is a single-channel film (runtime: 14:30). A neurodivergent-futurist manifesto, a pandemic public service announcement, considering feedback systems as philosophical frameworks. Animated diagrams, audio and video feedback processes, and expanded cinema techniques reveal, through a cybernetic lens, neurodivergence as a system of sense-making; one differently attuned to temporal, psychic, and environmental embodied existence, holding key insights for urgent world-building. A poetic intersection dismissing the boundaries between art and science, and invocation. Commissioned by The Ford Foundation Gallery.
(Excerpt: 03:00 — https://vimeo.com/647940094)
This work can also be presented as a paper.
2022 “Stitching the Future with Clues”, Theatre Magazine, Published by Yale School of Drama | Duke University Press. Issue 52.2 Disability Dramaturgies, Associate Ed. Madeline Charne
Allison Leigh Holt (b. Fairfax, VA, 1972) is a neurodivergent artist / garage-academic based in Northern California. Her multidisciplinary work uses techniques of expanded cinema and the Light and Space Movement to model divergent epistemologies. Holt is a Fulbright Scholar (Indonesia) whose honors include residencies from the Djerassi Resident Artist Program (two-time), the Cemeti Institute for Art and Society (Indonesia), the Experimental Television Center (two-time), the North Dakota Museum of Art, and the Santa Barbara Center for Art, Science and Technology, among others. She has been a resident researcher at Sanggar Perbakayun in Sukoharjo, Central Java, and at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics.
Julia MENSCH. Ese ajeno sur
Faust, the genius project-maker and engineer looks back at the work of his life-time: prospering cultural landscapes, newly created lands, modern harbours and a merchant fleet carrying goods from far-away continents. Faust is the logistics-king of international free trade, with Mephisto as his chief-ideologue and henchman. Only a nameless traveller and a friendly old couple, Philemon and Baucis, appear as their adversaries, who quickly fall prey to the capitalist turnover.
How could Faust, in his final incarnation as land-developer, be understood today, how can his success, his burning ambition, his blindness and subsequent death be re-interpreted? Marshal Berman’s interpretation of Faust reveals a reading of Faust’s success and failure as a metaphor for a (moral) crisis of capitalist modernity.
In cross-referencing Faust with the on-going violent repression of indigenous land claims in Patagonia, we look to the far-away and yet so near geographies of this Faustian relation to nature, and plead for those who resist, and who have resisted through history.
The video essay is a reflection on the deaths of activists like Santiago Maldonado, Rafael Nahuel, or Elias Garay, who died in the course of land conflicts in Patagonia. How can they be named and remembered? How can this Faustian megalomania be translated into a form of critique that targets extractivism, dispossession, and the alliance of state institutions with the interests of latifundistas and international corporations like Benetton?
And what does all this have to do with us?
Julia Mensch is a Berlin based visual artist. She studied at the Universidad Nacional de las Artes (UNA) in Buenos Aires and Hito Steyerl’s class at the Universität der Künste (UdK) in Berlin. She develops her practice on the basis of long-term research, readings of fiction and theory, interviews and visits to archives and territories. Her work is an intersection of text, drawing, installation, public events, photography, video and lecture performance as a means to opening collective dialogues regarding political and social contexts and future scenarios. Her practice deals with the history of Socialism and Communism, and with environmental sociopolitical conflicts. She has taken part in several international residency programs and exhibitions in Europe and South America, and has received grants from the Senate of Berlin/DE, Pro Helvetia/CH, Amt für Kultur Appenzell Ausserrhoden/CH, Schlesinger Stiftung/CH, Sulzberg Stiftung/CH, Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst (German Academic Exchange Service, DAAD)/DE, Robert Bosch Foundation/DE and Fondo Nacional de las Artes (National Fund for the Arts, FNA)/AR, among others.
She is currently a PhD Candidate at Bauhaus-Universität Weimar and part of the research project “Plants_Intelligence. Learning Like a Plant” (2022-2025), realised with Yvonne Volkart (lead), Felipe Castelblanco, and Rasa Smite, funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation, and hosted by the Institute Art Gender Nature at the Academy of Art and Design FHNW Basel.