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It’s autumn. The summer heat feels like a memory. Shadows grow longer, the sun is low, there’s a chill in the air: time to harvest the crops. It’s the end of the day, a moment to evaluate our learnings, stock up for winter, and consider what we will do tomorrow. Can we design futures with a future? Canadian Indigenous writer Leanne Betasamosake Simpson says: “ How we live, how we organise, how we engage in the world — the process — not only frames the outcome, it is the transformation. The how moulds and then gives birth to the present. The how changes us.” Leanne Betasamosake Simpson, As We Have Always Done: Indigenous Freedom Through Radical Resistance, Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2017, p. 19  Wong and Krier’s pluriversal guide Arturo Escobar puts it this way: “ We need to recover our future-imagining capacity to counter what Australian design theorist Tony Fry calls ‘the defuturing effects of modern design’. By which he means, design’s contribution throughout history to conditions that eliminate possible futures.”Arturo Escobar, Designs for the Pluriverse. Radical Interdependence, Autonomy and the Making of Worlds, Durham: Duke University Press, 2018, p. 16 

Aslı Hatipoğlu / Sourdough Revolution, Kombucha Culture

2020-ongoing, Maastricht and other locations

Artist, weaver and cook Aslı Hatipoğlu observes the relationship between humans and microbes. The kitchen is her laboratory. Cooking and sharing food always results in stories. Hatipoğlu builds a world in which she blends psychology, history, ecology, spirituality and science into new recipes. To nurture and observe a kombucha culture raises questions about the separation between inner and outer worlds: are emotions and experiences tangible in the skin? Does the skin, that in-between layer, negotiate between inside and outside?

Severine Amsing / 6 Hours, 12 Minutes and 36 Seconds

2018, Isle of Mull

When asked to weave the landscape of the Scottish Isle of Mull, Severine Amsing saw nothing but sheep, the ocean and the tide going in and out. With local wool she wove the difference between high and low tide on the particular days she was weaving. You are looking at the deepest ‘breath’ of the sea on the Mull coast: 427 centimetres. After Mull, Amsing wove more tidal ranges. One of the biggest differences she found was on the Jersey (UK) coast. To relate to this massive movement of water, she raised the 12-metre long blanket high on her studio building, as a performance. The audience fell silent.

Mae-ling Lokko / Thresholds of Return

2015-2016, Ghana

Architectural scientist Mae-ling Lokko is active in the field of biomaterials. Her work Thresholds of Return is 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. Mae-ling’s message is more hopeful – there are places, and ways of knowing, we can return to.

 

Melle Smets, Klaas Burger, Bart Groenewegen, Ayse Yalçinkaya Budakler / Huis van de Toekomst / Feest van de Eenvoud

2020-2030, Rotterdam

What if all the energy we use was generated by the human body? How would life look? How would we organise our households? From an empty corner shop in the Rotterdam neighbourhood of Bospolder-Tussendijken, Huis van de Toekomst works with its neighbours towards a fossil-free future. Many inhabitants of this working-class area come from elsewhere. There is a lot of precious knowledge available that Klaas Burger brings to the surface in the group talks he organises. Melle Smets – in collaboration with Kris de Decker  – materialises this knowledge into hands-on prototypes that function as conversation pieces. In the meantime, Bart, a member of the collective Bakkerij de Eenvoud, heats the communal oven and bakes bread every Wednesday with Ayse Yalçinkaya Budakler and other women from ‘the hood’.

Tony & Judy Gibson / Can Doers' Power Tool Kit

1977, Nottingham

Writer, radio journalist and community activist Tony Gibson materialised his interest in communities and social processes in the Planning for Real hands-on tool box – designed to improve planning and decision-making at neighbourhood level. The key element is visualising the future together in the form of a large-scale maquette. If everyone around the table ‘owns’ this maquette, everybody owns the future. He added interesting ‘filters’ to clarify the process: now/ soon/later, or: borrow/make/scrounge/hire/buy. Wong and Krier stumbled upon this inspiring tool through Tony’s daughter Judy. They met her on the Isle of Erraid in Scotland. Judy is artist Miek Zwamborn’s neighbour, you will meet her elsewhere in this exhibition. Birds of a feather: Judy is – like her father Tony – very involved in local affairs.

School of Mutants (Hamedine Kane, Stéphane Verlet-Bottéro, Valérie Osouf, Boris Raux) / All Fragments of the Word Will Come Back Here to Mend Each Other

2021-ongoing, Senegal / France

When you search for post-colonial futures it becomes clear how knowledge and power are intertwined. Founded in Dakar in 2018, School of Mutants works with a growing network of artists, artisans, activists, theorists and curators. By doing archival research, field work, and public assemblies, School of Mutants digs up forgotten histories of the pan- Africanist and Southern solidarity movements. Inspired by the Batouto people, imagined by Édouard Glissant in his novel Sartorius, the audio-visual materials assembled here speculate on loose encounters between places, tales and times. The tales connect Dakar to Taiwan, Mauritania, Martinique, Guadeloupe, Calais, Guangzhou, Hong Kong and the Moroccan coast. True to their name, no intervention of School of Mutants is ever quite the same: they adapt, change.

Anne van Leeuwen / Bodemzicht, Regenerative Farm

2019-ongoing, Nijmegen

Where are the relationships between humans and other-than-humans most intense? On a farm. The aim of the farm that researcher and activist Anne van Leeuwen started with her partner is first and foremost to regenerate the soil. The crops they grow and the eggs the chickens produce and that they sell are in sync with that goal: profit at different levels. But how to collaborate with crows, who ‘steal’ eggs, but at the same time keep an eye out for birds of prey? That is just one of thousands of relational dilemmas at play between humans and ‘nature’. The complex and mutually supportive relations between humans and other-than-human living beings form the tissue of the Zoöperative, or Zoöp for short. This is a form of organisation in which humans and other living beings collaborate. Bodemzicht is becoming a Zoöp. Het Nieuwe Instituut already is a Zoöp.

Bodil Ouédraogo / Regard sur le Présent

2019, Amsterdam / Burkina Faso

Fashion designer Bodil Ouédraogo is searching for new blends of existing cultural identities. Her own bi-cultural background is a driving force: her father is from Burkina Faso, her mother from the Netherlands. How can a combination of different styles result in a completely new identity? Ouédraogo: “People’s identities are defined by many factors and influences, they are as layered, complex and appealing as a rich weave of different threads.” Ouédraogo’s work feels like a celebration of this complexity.