January 16, 2014

Nature, adversity, etc. A call for proposals for transdisciplinary residency

Mouhitori collective, “Scab” intervention at Utopiana, Japon 2013.

The propositions may be comprised of artistic projects in different media, workshops, or other forms of interventions.

Utopiana is developing its activities around three axes: artist residencies, “Plantopic”—a research and gardening project—and a public event titled “The Beast and Adversity,” the latter to be held in 2015.

In 2013 an urban garden created by artists and neighbors of the residency integrated itself into Utopiana’s universe. At present we are launching an open call for propositions for residencies in this context. The garden is a microcosm that allows us to question the old couple of nature and culture.

Contrary to the preconception of “the artist-genius,” which inspired romanticism with the conviction that “the contemplation of nature can bring us to understand the deep meaning of things,” Utopiana invites interested persons to take part in the residency to follow “the secret life of plants.” In addition to the workspace traditionally offered by the residency, a garden parcel of five square meters will also be available as a space of experimentation in the community garden Pote à Jean. This call is for those who believe themselves able to contribute to the subject at hand and who are ready to enter into a dialogue with the garden and its occupants.

This residency will be accompanied by the research group Plantopic, which bases itself around permaculture seen as an attitude and alternative form of social construction. In this same direction, Plantopic’s research is concerned with seeing art mediation as the creation of a milieu, an intermediary, but also an environment, a context, and “producing knowledge that contributes to writing our history differently….”

The residency is organized in view of an event that will take place in 2015, “The Beast and Adversity.” Adversity is “this insidious movement by which things slip out of our hold,” according to the philosopher Maurice Merleau-Ponty. The notion of adversity refers to the fundamental ambiguity of our existence, which results in our desire to possess and master nature, when in fact nature possesses and masters us at least as much. In this way, in the heart of our being and in our environment there lives a force that makes us as much as it escapes us. The question that guides us in this project is thus: If nature is neither a reservoir of resources to exploit, nor an inert space to possess, nor an ensemble of mechanisms to master, how then might we come to terms with it? In this research we aim to question our relationship with nature constructed economically, culturally, and politically, and to explore alternative practice and thought in these subjects.

Interested candidates are asked to send by e-mail an application file consisting of a portfolio, CV, availability for a residency between March 2014 and end of 2015 (maximum three months), as well as a motivation letter of 500 words or less. For more information, write to [email protected].

Deadline: 14 February 2014

For more about Utopiana, please see our website,

Utopiana is supported by the City and the Canton of Geneva, and by its members.

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