2.2 The Future
During the first ten years of my research with the Ark of Seeds (2007-2017), I had sporadic and tangent encounters with a curatorial approach. The artistic process was very intense and demanding, almost rioting to find a form. Recently, it has turned towards a more conceptual and slower piece, more receptive to listening and reading traces. The drive for production has left space for an action. This newfond shift doesn't seem anything original, but a sort of natural consequence of the economic, political and environmental crises facing us. Rather, an anthropological and cultural reflection of the reality taking into account its plasticity. In this light, the dialogue with curators opens new perspectives towards future research questions, and connects the research with a relational approach.
Curators Basak Senova, art critic Lori Adragna, art historian Maria Stella Bottai, anthropologist Lea Vene, and Master of Political Science Marita Muukkonen have directly influenced my work in its recent development and I have reflected with them on specific aspects of art production associated with or inspired by scholarly research conducted in natural sciences, anthropology, and in the political sciences. They have offered perspectives that are very diverse one another, as it is their curatorial practice, and it seems relevant to include their voices in view of the present ecological turn in the arts. Their discourses suggest that diversification of aesthetic views, considerations about intersectional approaches and social justice, seem to be vital to inscribe the arts within a model of coexistence based on interdependency.
I have engaged with them via a set of questions with the aim to offer a direct view on our dialogues and on the concerns guiding the present research into the future.
1) What is the function of plants today?
Lori Adragna: Plants can be considered the cradle of life. When humans appeared on earth, their first intimate encounter took place with the vegetal kingdom: a tree as shelter, a fruit as food, a bundle of herbs as a bed, a branch as an instrument. The encounter with plants enhance the starting point of humans on the journey towards civilization. Botanical symbology has accompanied this evolutionary path, as a harmonious compendium of its fundamental stages, just as it served as a metaphor for probing the mystery of existence, origin, destiny, and human nature. Yet, paradoxically, over time, especially with the advent of science and technology, the instinct to dominate and control the natural world prevailed in humans, even if in the end, in order to elevate themselves to masters of the universe, they became slaves of their own creation. Not that technology is contrary tout court to a harmonious life with the biological environment, but since it often puts profit before any other possibility, it ends up lashing out against other living beings, destroying them, poisoning them, altering them with manipulations, forcing them into coercive cultivation methods, consuming them in senseless ways. This, according to an anthropocentric perspective criticized in recent decades and accompanied with greater attention for the dynamics of sustainability. An ecological awareness is growing that has broadened horizons and creatively manifested itself also through art. Humans have begun to develop empathy for plants and thanks to recent studies they recognized their intelligence and sensitivity. The exploitation has gradually moved towards the search for balance, a connection to rediscover its essence, and nature is conceived - as Beuys already claimed in the eighties - as the Unity of the Whole, where human is a fragment of this unit.
Lea Vene: Here I will use a quote: "Plants are the always open wounds of the metaphysical snobbery that defines our culture. The return of the repressed, of which we must rid ourselves in order to consider ourselves as different: rational humans, spiritual beings. They are the cosmic tumor of humanism, the waste that the absolute spirit can't quite manage to eliminate."
(Emanuele Coccia, The life of Plants)
Marita Muukkonen: It seems to me that in the midst of an ongoing global climate crisis, it is impossible to separate the plants from the rest of the ecosystems. The climate emergency has challenged the prevailing cultural, political, social and economic order. During the past 12 months we have faced floods, forest fires, Covid -19 pandemic, and the locust crisis will pose a danger to millions in the summer; the FAO has warned that the food security of 25 million people could be endangered by the locusts. The planet is simply sick, and this is a human made problem.
Plants of course play the most critical role in the food chain of the ecosystems. During the coronavirus we have witnessed the panic buying of seeds for private gardens in cities like New York. Farmworkers who feed people are once again in grave danger; America’s 2.5 million farmworkers are among the groups most at risk of contracting the coronavirus. And if they are at risk, the food supply may be too.
In the Kurdish region in Turkey Mesopotamia ecological movement has been collecting and preserving local and organic seeds and distributing them on a large scale since 2012. Each of the 14 ecology councils has a working group (commission) on “agriculture, seeds and food” which recently have initiated local, organic and social agriculture projects. Preserving local seed is an illegal action, since you can only buy seeds certified by four gigantic multinational companies according to the Turkish law. The food independence of the Kurdish region would play a threat to the central Turkish government. Today, just four gigant companies control more than 60 percent of the world's seed sales, which makes markets of seeds not only an economical, but a political issue, and an issue of survival of humans. This aspect makes such artistic processes as the Ark of Seeds by Egle Oddo highly timely.
Such movements as Detroit’s urban farming movement has witnessed since several years that art can offer a space of the speculative and experimental and radical; it can provide a space where different kinds of gardens, urbanism and economies can be linked in ways that are ecologically sustainable, and people rather than profit orientated. “While the farms and gardens, which produces and provides food to some of Detroit’s citizens, and also disrupts socially and visually society’s common order", as Terri Weissman writes. He continues “if we are willing to blur the distinction between art, agriculture and activism, we can understand community gardens and urban farms not only as important aesthetic participants in the reorganization of cities, but also as avenues by which new types of collectives are formed or as alternative institutions that teach us how to think differently about the connection between ecology and the political and economic worlds we live in, as well as between ecology and creative liberation.”
Maria Stella Bottai: If we browse artworks in an art history book, we notice that in the Renaissance for example, a beautiful garden symbolized the Earthly Paradise. In the last decades plants have been associated instead to issues such as pollution, deforestation and global warming. The images of the cut down of the Amazon rainforest, the hurricanes devastating vast lands, or, on a local scale, the parasites poisoning thousands of palm trees in Florida or olive trees in Apulia: these are all symptoms of the exploitation of the Nature that we are not able to amend so far, even though our awareness is increasing.
Recently the artist Marzia Migliora, winner of the Italian council in 2019, exhibited at Serlachius museum in Mänttä (central Finland) The Spectre of Malthus: a conceptual representation of the Malthus’s theory, the economist who predicted already in early 19th century the exhaustion of natural resources and the impossibility to naturally feed the world population. People who entered the installation, a horse box, experienced this feeling of exploitation and lack of freedom, as a horse used as workforce. Like animals, also plants have been subjected to consumerism with intensive agriculture. Will it be a time when we will think again of plants as representation of the Garden of Eden?
Basak Senova: Throughout history, in all cultures, plants have always been fundamental for providing shelter, food, medicine, and clothing. Today, I see plants as the most important actors for the planet for regulating the climate. In the same line of thinking, in a political sense, both the plants and the knowledge derived from them are not only the subtle powers, but also suggest a potential intelligence to survive.
2) How do you react when you see or experience a work of bioart or a work of environmental art that involves plants?
Lori Adragna: Observing the process in order to give a critical reading or studying a work of bioart, or even sharing its genesis with the artist (as it happens during the Bridge Art residencies that I manage in Sicily by combining eco sustainability and contemporary art), arouses great interest in me. Provided, however, that this represents the result of a thorough research, of a real artistic / political / cultural path of the artist, and that the natural element has not been inserted into the work by force, to create merely aesthetic effects, or because at this moment talking about anthropocene is fashionable, almost a civil obligation, an expression of cultural conformism.
Egle Oddo has positively involved me with her work The Ark Seeds. AOS is a trans-disciplinary project that consists of a series of small sown areas where cultivars and spontaneous plants coexist, where the dividing line between agricultural site, urban park and wild nature fades, thanks to a practice that Oddo calls non-gardening. Thanks to her practice, plants are set free to create unexpected assemblages, forming a biotic niche marked in the long term by unpredictable new aesthetic formations.
In addition to creating these small pristine sites, Oddo creates sculptural objects of various sizes, which she uses to offer seeds during public performances, channeling the collective management of natural resources in the form of a participatory artistic practice.
You can't rush with plants, and this fascinates Oddo. To be able to witness the natural evolution of these sites and the interaction of plants with each other, with the biocenosis, and with the local human population, a minimum period of seven years is necessary. The project begins with the creation of the Ark, a series of mobile sculptures invented to facilitate the proliferation of a common good, such as plant seeds. Subsequently, a collective artistic practice is established around the Ark, to discover suitable places where seeds can grow. As in mythology, the individual alone cannot perform the task of building the Ark, gathering the various species and finding places where life can expand, and therefore in her projects Oddo facilitates the involvement and the active participation of schools, local communities, public and private institutions. In her project in Gibellina, Italy, Oddo has established collaboration with local direct cultivators, with non-profit cultural association MAG, with Orestiadi Foundation, a non-profit Institute of Higher Culture, with the Town Hall of Gibellina, with Ermes winery, a local private enterprise, and with Sementi Indipendenti, a non-profit association that safeguards regional biodiversity. This communal dimension is very important to read the work of Oddo.
Lea Vene: In the bioart projects I often tend to feel a certain detachment between the role of plants and the artist/observer. In so many cases these project very directly mimic aesthetics and processes of natural sciences which I have a hard time re-placing in the context of contemporary art. In the case of environmental art I always examine the acts of emplacement and displacement within the given environment and they guide me in further understanding.
Marita Muukkonen: As far back as the 1960s, a critical strain of ecological art underscored the social dimension of nature. Environmental issues manifest differently and unevenly across different socio-spatial registers. As such, it is resonant with, if not at times directly participatory in, the environmental justice movement, which has for many years waged an incisive, if under-represented, critique of the failure of Western mainstream environmentalism to acknowledge adequately issues of social inequality; for example, the extent to which climate change has already begun to disproportionately impact poor regions and communities as it was witnessed during the revolutions in the Northern Africa (2011). The call for food justice during the revolutions resulted from a three-fold crisis in global food prices, caused by climate change-enhanced drought, the diversion of corn to biofuels, and the expansion of the Goldman Sachs Commodity Futures Index. Drought reduced food supplies in North Africa, which could not be made up with imports, because so much corn was going to making ethanol, ironically motivated by the desire to reduce carbon emissions.
Limiting ‘bio art’ to come up with some trendy new patterns – new fashions for nature, or any narrow conception of bio art, does not seem meaningful at the current emergencies. Today, in a wider perspective, a quickly-changing institutional landscape of art and ecology – reflected in the rapid proliferation of conferences, MA programmes, artist residencies, exhibitions and biennials devoted to this intersection – is also at play a more general and related ‘educational turn’ in the art world. But it does not follow that this would mean an “ecological turn”. The necessary turn not only in arts but in societies would be “an ecological turn”, but this takes a deeper change than symposia, exhibitions and residency programmes.
The art practitioners cannot think about, reflect on and represent climate emergencies on a symbolic or a metaphoric level only, but practices have to change on all levels. We have witnessed recently a biennial on Reviewing the Anthropocene in Istanbul, International Association of Curators of Contemporary Art (IKT) met on Miami beach to “explore issues of resilience and sustainability”, there is an ongoing Arctic Circle Residency Programme to mention a few examples from the last year. Can art practitioners continue flying from one biennial and conference to another to talk about climate change related issues on a metaphoric and symbolic level when the planet clearly needs a U-turn?
There are such examples of long term socially, politically and ecologically engaged work, as in Z.A.D. autonomous territory in Western France, where a rich ecology of struggle has brought together local farmers and villagers, activists and naturalists, squatters and trade unionists, and some art workers, such as Isabel Fremaux and John Jordan, to defend the area against building a new airport (the Airport of Notre-Dame-des-Landes, close to the city of Nantes), which would have destroyed 4000 acres of rare wetlands. As John Jordan writes “we said 'NO' we don’t want an airport, but also 'YES' we will construct new forms of life, we will live as if we are free here and now and stop treating the world as an object to make money from, but as a subject to share life with.”
Author and activist Naomi Klein examines recovery efforts in the wake of Hurricanes Maria and Irma in her book The Battle For Paradise: Puerto Rico Takes on the Disaster Capitalists. She observed the capacity to organize at a grassroots level under impossible conditions, and a vast dispersal of power on the community level. This was not only about the capacity to resist, but also to reconstruct and point the way to a more enlightened economic system, one embedded in interdependence, which would be capable of rethinking such issues as how the food system should be transformed. 
Maria Stella Bottai: Among the many artworks that can be included in the categories of bioart or environmental art, I vividly remember just those that somehow, for some reasons, involved also by my body, not only my mind. I think of Giuseppe Penone's Respirare l'ombra, a wall of laurel leaves stacked in regular packages of metal nets, spreading a strong laurel scent in the room; Bik Van der Pol's butterflies house are you really sure that a floor can't also be a ceiling?, where the visitors could gently enter an ecosystem in full action; Terike Haapoja's Closed Circuit – Open Duration installation at 2013 Venice Biennale, in her words, “investigating the ways in which our understanding of nature is mediated by technology: technology becomes part of the experience of nature." Even Hito Steyerl's artificial gardens created a physical reaction within my body. The idea that technology shapes our reality still fascinates me. If you think about it, even the plants stand on technology and constantly refine it to adapt and reproduce.
Basak Senova: I perceive bio-art as a channel for producing and sharing a distinctive perspective to understand where we stand and what our contribution would be in today's climate crisis.
3) When you see works of art that involve plants, do you think to the process behind its realisation? what kind of associations do you make about it?
Lori Adragna: In some cases the process is an integral part of the work. I am thinking of the environmental installations by Dénes Ágnes, the Hungarian-American artist focused on creations that envisage the restoration of functional ecological systems, as well as socially committed, community-based interventions. As in the case of Wheatfield, A Confrontation (1982), a work she has done over the course of months, reclaiming and growing wheat on a landfill in lower Manhattan, two blocks from Wall Street, opposite the Statue of Liberty (today, this land is Battery Park City). The Danish art collective SUPERFLEX defines their projects as 'tools', an instrument as a model or proposal that can be actively and further used and modified by the users themselves.
Lea Vene: I am always interested in the processes behind the realization (regardless of weather the project deals with plants or not). It is an essential element in understanding the backstage of the artistic way of working/thinking and also in creating a bond between the curator and the artist.
Marita Muukkonen: Brian Holmes has theorized new research practices by artists that ‘don’t exhaust themselves inside [the art circuit], but rather, extend elsewhere’, in terms of ‘extradisciplinarity’. Such investigations, he argues, are almost always propelled by ‘political engagement’ and involve a heightened disciplinary and institutional reflexivity. Oddo describes her work as trans-disciplinary, but her ongoing investigation since 2007 is in Holmes’ terms extradisciplinary, working in participatory manner with professionals from a wide spectrum of expertise, from copyright law to environmental architecture, to botanists and to ecological and social justice activists in parks, in farms and in a variety of other spaces engaging with local communities.
When I see the works of art which involve plants, I think about the aspect of engagement of the artist to ecological issues and practices, as well as respect - plants have to be treated as subjects in the works of art. If the living plants in the work of art serve the aspect of “decoration” or are used for pure aesthetic purposes, or are treated as objects for artistic purposes only, it is not meaningful to me.
Maria Stella Bottai: Working with artists such as Egle Oddo, I came to understand the amount of work that they must deal with when they want to involve plants in their artistic process. Unusual questions arose: how to preserve them? Is the use of plants I planned ethical? Am I respectful of their biological processes? Is the community going to understand what I want to do?
Working with museums I also became aware of the problems that exhibiting living organisms bring, e.g. standard protocols to respect in order to avoid the risk of the parasites infestation through the ventilation system, the necessity to seal or treat the plants before displaying them, taking care of possible allergies of the visitors (with augmentation of the exhibition budget). These are new aspects that art people face and that make us all more aware of the co-habitation with nature.
I also tutored a Master's Degree thesis at the Sapienza University of Rome in 2015, L'uso dei semi nell'arte contemporanea: alcune esperienze (The use of seeds in contemporary art: some experiences), by Emanuela Fabbri, where the author stressed the making of specific art productions. Young scholars are more and more focusing on the process of contemporary art involving plants.
Basak Senova: For me, one of the most fascinating features of the artworks, which involve plants, are their process-based and condition-based nature. They mostly require a recognizable research phase that can be detected in their presentation. Furthermore, they always indicate a continuation and an ongoing process with their existence after they are being presented as artworks. They are never complete and they are never static.
4) How do you define and relate artistic production with the desire to 'include nature' in an artwork?
Lori Adragna: Art has been constantly guided by the attempt to bridge the separation between man and the world. Already from the first men who made graffiti on the walls of the caves, responding to a need for a magical, religious character, this synthesis over time has evolved into more complex and relevant conceptions in the history of art, passing from the symbolism of plants in medieval sculptures to the Renaissance backdrops, to perfection in the seventeenth-century imaginary landscape. Going forward in time, while the neoclassical artist endeavored to remain extraneous to nature and to rationally investigate its characteristics, denying it any poetic and expressive value, the romantic artist felt an integral part of the natural landscape and immersed in it deeply. In the twentieth century, this research focused on the attempt to imitate nature in its way of operating, finding an equivalent not so much for its formal aspect, but for its inherent invisible forces, a tradition of thought that has been well summarized by Clement Greenberg. The American critic analyzes, for example, the vision of the impressionists who have tried to resolve the conflicts between art and nature, bringing painting to the brink of abstraction. Or of the cubists who have created a new aesthetic, completely detached from interpretation or similarity with the natural world, through the breakdown of the figure into minimal parts, to allow a rereading through mental re-composition. Beginning in the 60's of the twentieth century, a revolutionary freedom of interpretation overwhelmed the world of art, which developed new codes of expression and behavior, proposing a new vision of art, which favors the idea, the mental process that precedes the execution of the work. In this cultural climate, from a branch of Conceptual art, was born Land Art, a movement that made nature itself a work of art.
Lea Vene: I question the conditions of inclusion of natural elements. How does nature participate exactly, what role, what kind of voice is given to nature, how have artists manipulated this participation, how can an audience then further approach and relate to the included nature?
Marita Muukkonen: From a wider perspective, the term nature comes with an unwanted ideological baggage, with purist fantasies of an unspoiled opposite of culture; consequently, Bruno Latour and Timothy Morton have argued that it is imperative to think of ecology without ‘nature’.
As far back as the 1960's, a critical strain of ecological art underscored the social dimension of nature, pushing against Romanticistic notions of something apart from and unspoiled by humans, with certain artists taking up industrial and otherwise visibly impacted landscapes to do so.
Using Félix Guattari’s terminology, nature cannot be separated from culture; in order to comprehend the interactions between ecosystems, the mechanosphere and the social and individual Universes of reference, we must learn to think ‘transversally’.
Maria Stella Bottai: Nature is a hot topic, it has always been. The cave paintings didn't represent animals? Zeusi, the famous Greek painter, was able to represent nature so realistically, that it generated the story of a bird approaching a painted grape, thinking it was real. At that time, it was a technical virtuosism, a kind of challenge with the nature. Today, we have a more scientific approach, thanks also to technologies, and we are more concerned about ecology.
The next Helsinki Biennale will deal with this topic; actually, the artists will include a whole island, Vallisaari, in their practice. It will be interesting to see the outcome.
5) What are the areas of 'error' you see in this practice?
Lori Adragna: Speaking of Land Art and Environmental Art, two fundamental trends stand out: the first characterized by the use of the land and the landscape as a real material to build the work. The second is distinguished by installations created en plein air with artificial elements, sometimes neglecting the reading of the specificity of the place in which they are inserted. In this case there is the risk of invalidating the fundamental concept of environmental art, in my opinion based on respect for nature and ethics, which should manifest itself in productions not exclusively based on utilitarianism or on mere aesthetics, but aimed at raising public awareness of ecological dynamics related to environmental issues, offering new possibilities of relationship with the environment, responsibility, coexistence, sustainability and healing. When a creative object has ephemeral life, then the need to use photography or video to capture its existence comes into play. If this need turns into an obsession with the freezing of images and creative moments, we end up starting an almost paradoxical relationship between permanent and non-permanent, between what was initially born as ephemeral and transformative. Another area of error may concern certain drifts of bioart, a form of artistic expression that places life at the center of the works by using as the creational tool biological materials, natural processes, as well as the methodologies applied to them (biotechnologies, genetic engineering etc). George Gessert, an American artist active from 1985 to today, concentrates his work on the overlap between art and genetics, with a particular interest in the way in which human aesthetic preferences influence evolution. Gessert creates hybrids of plants and flowers that show a strong aesthetic component, but retain that awareness is useful to remind us that all life forms have an intrinsic value and that we can play a different role from being the tyrant towards nature. If on one hand shaping life for bio artists can represent a way to focus on the critical issues of biotechnological progress, on the other hand the re-presentation of the processes that make up organic matter, from tissue cells to GMOs, today is especially set in response to market and fashion trends. According to CriticaI Art Ensemble, (Molecular invasion, Milan, 2006) in those cases where processes / objects are stripped of their functionality and the ideology they embody is hidden in order to divert the experience towards an enveloping aesthetic perception, de-contextualization transforms fascinating procedures into a banal series of expositions.
Lea Vene: I find quite problematic those approaches that treat the non-human matter as laboratorial material. Most explicitly, it underlines the power relations between the observer and the observed, and it passivizes nature as one of an actor in such process.
Marita Muukkonen: As I wrote some time ago: “the art practitioners cannot think about, reflect on and represent climate emergencies on a symbolic or a metaphoric level only, but practices have to change on all levels”. We no longer have the luxury of the postmodern era to concentrate on the conceptual shifts only. By this I don’t mean that art practitioners have to focus on their art practice on ecological issues, but as global citizens they have to take the responsibility of the ecological consequences of their actions. The latter applies especially if they work on such topics as climate crises and ecological issues. To give a really simple example, “travelling slow” does not necessarily mean lower CO2 emissions. For example the ferries between Helsinki and Stockholm pollute more than taking a flight without a stopover to cities like Copenhagen and Berlin. We have to be more aware of our actions, and the need for the action is apparent.
Maria Stella Bottai: I sometimes miss the aesthetic side, sometimes sacrificed to highlight the process or the data. I am happy when I am able to appreciate the artwork even if I am not a scientist or a biologist, when I can approach it layer by layer and from different angles – I see the form, understand the concept, observe the media used, notice the feeling coming from the overall installation, consider what i bring home from that experience. If you think about the impressive scenography of Plegaria Muda by Doris Salcedo or the works by Christiane Lohr and Fiorella Rizzo – just to name a few – they have in common a special attention on the public, how people meet their works. Spanish artist Pablo Mesa Capella’s Aqua Botanica is also a good example, because the leaves and flowers installation is built day by day with the visitors.
Maybe the physical presence of plants requires a specific setting, something you don’t forcely have to design if you work with cells, for example.
Basak Senova: My understanding of error is not negative; they provide opportunities for cognitive development of all kinds of the practices. Therefore, I have a tendency to transform errors or the accidental result of errors to a data that can be processed.
As an example, my curatorial concept for the Helsinki Photography Biennial 2014 started with some questionings hovering around errors:
…A fallacy is simply defined as an error in reasoning. In the same vein, the title of the biennial refers to the term "ecological fallacy" in statistics. It is a logical error or a mistaken assumption in the interpretation of statistical data.
What if analogous errors and assumptions are made deliberately and systematically by the ruling powers—governments, corporations, banks, and trusts—of the world?
What if the entire ecological balance of the world has already been violated while we
have been listening to contradictory and twisted ideas put forth by these ruling forces?
What if we have become totally blind, deaf, and even mute, regarding what is going on around us? What if we have been trapped with all sorts of fallacies?...
Through such questions, the biennial aimed to investigate fallacies of ecological knowledge by seeking correlated artistic approaches and perspectives as a way of producing and processing evidentiary critical, social, and cultural discourses on these fallacies.
6) What does 'consensual' mean for you, when an artist works with living non-human elements?
Lori Adragna: In my opinion, those artists who wish to deal with environmental art need to abandon the attitude of domination, often coming into play during the creative process. They could relate to the place and the natural context, for example by participating in the emotions that the ecosystem communicates. Working in nature, in an interactive dimension, from a perspective of relationship with living non-human elements and of transformation on the ontogenetic level. They could set in motion all those elements of the imagination referring to nature, on our sensory and mental identification with its forms and its rhizomatic and often-chaotic processes. They could pay attention, therefore, to the network of exchanges present in our environment; the physical, biological, cultural, political and historical aspects of ecological systems. In other words, cultivating empathy and responsible relationships with other human and non-human beings, rather than simply affirming an individual self.
Lea Vene: Consensuality is definitely a grey zone and in so many cases relies solely on the individual artistic approach and individual ethics.
Marita Muukkonen: In short, consensuality means that humanity, including artists, should see themselves as a part of ecosystems, fostering biodiversity, sharing life with non-human elements, and learn how to live alongside nature otherwise ecosystems will continue to collapse around the world. Alongside scientists, activists and other experts, humanity has to listen to the expertise of indigenous communities. Indigenous communities support around 80% of the planet’s biodiversity, despite accounting for less than one twentieth of the human population, according to the World Bank.
It is crucial to learn responsibility, to take an initiative in public as well as in private, believing that an individual or collective opinion, an initiative still could make a difference, and to not let the individual citizen (or institution) withdraw into an anonymous, safe "us", not taking an action.
Maria Stella Bottai: I remember last summer visiting the Milano Triennale's exhibition Broken Nature, curated by Paola Antonelli, MoMa's senior curator in the Department of Architecture and Design. There was a gorgeous artwork, The Great Animal Orchestra, a sound installation created by American musician and bio-acoustician Bernie Krause in 2016, with the recordings of animal vocalizations in their natural habitats. The London-based studio United Visual Artists (UVA) created the visual dimension of the installation. The public was sitting for a long time, listening to the sound of wild nature, something most travelers will never hear, following the information on the kind of animals and trees, the recordings of different forests, a sort of timeline of nature. And we were in the heart of hectic Milan. I tell you this story, because it could be an example of consensus with non-human characters in the artwork: a deal of not altering their ecosystem or interrupting their stream of life. One theory on coronavirus' sudden spread around the world relies on the inappropriate intervention of humans into the animal environment. I think that a non-interference deal could be a reasonable starting point for artistic projects with nature.