In the light of the current pandemic and resulting travel restrictions, Wong and Krier start their quest for the pluriverse from home with Arturo Escobar’s book, Designs for the Pluriverse in hand. Through short, animated talks with thinkers and makers from different domains, they dive into four urgent themes taken from the book: autonomy, world-making, the vernacular, and (de)futuring. In this way, each talk will be connected to a specific passage of the book. Tempted to pick up this great read in preparation of future, physical travels?
#1 On becoming networks
With Joke Robaard
In this first interview in this series of warm-up talks about different aspects of Arturo Escobar's Designs for the Pluriverse, we meet Joke Robaard, independent thinker and maker. Active since the 80s in the world of design, she is deeply involved in art and education and has developed a broad framework to reflect on design, materiality and weaving. She recently co-authored the book Archive Species with Camiel van Winkel on her ever-growing collection of (fashion) images. In short: she has always followed her own path. We ask her if the idea of the pluriverse, as set out by Escobar in his 2018 book, resonates with her versatile practice.
#2 On letting things run by themselves
With Miquel Hervás Gómez
Pa Amb Tomàquet
#3 On imagining beginnings
With Mariana Pestana
In this third talk, we hear from Mariana Pestana, curator of the fifth Istanbul Design Biennale entitled Empathy Revisited: Designs For More Than One about the kind of ‘radical design imagination’ (Escobar 2018) the world needs today.
Pestana’s critical social practice investigates “the role that fiction can play in re-imagining futures for an age marked by technological progress and an ecological crisis.” Initially trained as an architect, she lives and works between Porto and London where she has taught at Royal College of Art and Central St Martins. She is one of the co-founders of The Decorators, a collective that produces collaborative public interventions and cultural programmes, such as Expedition Empathy (Azores, 2019). Publications she has (co)edited include The Future Starts Here (Victoria and Albert Museum, 2018) and Eco Visionaries: Towards an Interspecies Future (Matadero Madrid, 2019).
#4 On avoiding assumptions
With Foundation We Are
In this fourth podcast, Wong and Krier talk to architectural researcher Kornelia Dimitrova and social designer Bernhard Lenger, co-founders of Foundation We Are, a collective of nine creative minds and makers that functions both as a playground for their different individual practices, and as a joint design consulting agency aiming to transform social and legal systems. How to keep your design practice close to the ground? Can we still have hope for Europe? And what do personal burn-out and the climate crisis have in common? Tune in to find out.
#5 On celebrating smallness
With Sean Leonard
In the fifth talk we meet up online with architect/researcher Sean Leonard, part of Co-RD Limited, and co-founder of Alice Yard, a contemporary art space located in Port-of-Spain, Trinidad, which hosts and facilitates an ongoing programme of artists and artists’ projects, where networking, collaboration, improvisation and play are key. In 2020 Leonard was selected as the inaugural recipient of a research fellowship organised by Het Nieuwe Instituut and Tilting Axis. This position includes collaborations with the Amsterdam Museum, De Appel, The Black Archives and FKA Witte de With / Melly. This is also how ‘In Search of the Pluriverse’ and Leonard crossed paths. A vivid talk about heritage, the yard as a space of play and negotiation, swamp lodges and stilt walkers.
Stones Have Laws
In addition to the main conversation with architect/researcher Sean Leonard Wong and Krier added a short audio clip about Stones Have Laws, a film made by Lonnie van Brummelen, Siebren de Haan en Tolin Erwin Alexander, in close cooperation with Saamaka and Okanisi communities along the Surinam River.
#6 On being plural
With Camila Marambio
In this sixth Warming Up talk, we meet Camila Marambio – a being as plural as the worlds she inhabits, falls in love with, and seeks to protect. Camila is the founder/director of Ensayos, a nomadic interdisciplinary research program that has been collectively unraveling the eco politics of the archipelago of Karokynka a.k.a. Tierra del Fuego for about a decade now. Camila completed her Phd in Curatorial Practice at Monash University, Melbourne with both a TV web series “DISTANCIA" and an exegesis (a critical explanation or interpretation of a text) with the title: ‘DISTANCIA: A measure of intimacy.’ Besides all this, Camila identifies and plays with the roles of private investigator, eco-sexual, permaculture enthusiast, and flautón chino player/dancer. Her home base is in Papudo, a coastal town two hours north of Santiago de Chile.
A mesmerising talk about cosmic changes, circular stories, a pluriversal owl and the notion of with-with.
On 18 February 2021 Sean Leonard presented his research project during Thursday Night Live!, with guests, under the title Building in, Around and in Association with Water. Watch a recording of the session here.
On sexual creative energy
The main conversation ends with the notion of a child-like sexual/sensual energy that we tend to disconnect with while growing up. In the bonus track Camila dives into ‘that beautiful thing that we feel in our whole body’. It is linked to the vagus nerve that connects the brain to our sexual organs. How can we (re)activate this nerve? Listen!
#7 On designing otherwise
With Arturo Escobar
In this seventh Warming Up talk we meet Arturo Escobar himself, author of ‘Designs for the Pluriverse. Radical Interdependence, Autonomy and the Making of Worlds’ (2018, Duke University Press). The book we use as a guide for our Pluriversal search. Escobar is currently Emeritus Professor of Antropology and Political Ecology at the University of North Carolina. Escobar was early to criticise the downside of ‘development’ from a Western capitalist perspective. His analysis evolved in a search for different ways to co-inhabit this planet. From early on, Arturo was inspired by Afro-Colombian social movements in the Colombian Pacific. He helped voice their plea for a ‘pluriversal approach’: to realise ‘a world in which many worlds fit’. In this personal and pleasantly meandering conversation we talk about key elements in Escobar’s thinking: radical interdependence and autonomy. Design is approached both as a system, and as a language and praxis to activate these notions of radical interdependence and – communal – autonomy.
Pluriversal Exercise: Making Life Anew
A pluriversal homework task by Arturo Escobar.
#8 On making the yes and the no
With Jay Jordan and Isa Frémeaux
In this last – but much more to come, stay tuned! – Warming Up talk we meet Jay Jordan and Isa Frémeaux, co-founders of Laboratory of Insurrectionary Imagination (Labofii). This lab brings artists and activists together to design tools and acts of disobedience and resistance. Unhappy with the world of performance and art (Jay) and institutional education (Isa), they created their own practice and approach in which there is always a ‘no’ and a ‘yes’ present, after the Zapatista movement. Since 2015 Jay and Isa are residents of the zad (zone à défendre, zone to defend) in Notre-Dame-des-Landes, close to Nantes. From a reserved area for an airport, these 4000 acres evolved over the last 50 years in a beautiful life experiment. A place where the gaps between art, politics and daily life are dissolved. Listen to an electric talk about ‘a world that exists today, because it wasn’t allowed to exist to start with’. And if it is up to us, this is only part 1…
Pluriversal Exercise: The Art of Attention
This bonus exercise, recorded by Jay and Isa themselves, is all about choosing a ‘sit-spot’ and building up a relation with it over time. Thank you: Starhawk for inspiration and guidance and Jack Jordan for sound production.
Share your special spot findings via firstname.lastname@example.org
“Come in, the door is open.” “ (…) We invite you to turn off the television and look at one another face-to-face: our history, our struggle, our words, which are clumsy but sincere… Turn on your flashlight and illuminate well. (…) Every freed farm, here or in any corner of the world, is a territory that adds up to reestablish the equilibrium of Uma Kiwe. It is our common house, our only one. There it is, yes: come in, the door is open.” p. 199, fragment from “Libertad para la Madre Tierra,” May 28, 2010, from the Asociación de Cabildos Indígenas del Norte del Cauca website.
In Search of the Pluriverse is more than a podcast. See the background research in the Glossary and About the Pluriverse for a taste of what is to come. Or follow the “mental weather” reflections of graphic designer Miquel Hervás Gómez in the footnotes of this web magazineNote on the webcover: Five-to-one (or one-in-five) atmospheric identity generated by real time / live sync weather reports from the different localities: a constant geo(typo)graphic system reflecting on the commonalty (or not) between the geographical coordinates. Typeface affected by the (un)likeness/(un)likely weather conditions. Listening to different (ambient) inputs such as wind intensity, temperature, humidity and daylight., and on our Instagram channel @insearchofthepluriverse. If you would like to share your thoughts about this podcast series, feel free to contact us: email@example.com
Arturo Escobar, Emeritus Professor of Anthropology at the University of North Carolina, USA, wishes to acknowledge the Zapatista cosmovision Queremos un mundo donde quepan muchos mundos (trans. we want a world in which many worlds fit), Marisol de la Cadena and Mario Blaser for co-enunciating the notion of the pluriverse.
Escobar Arturo, Designs for the Pluriverse. Radical Interdependence, Autonomy, and the Making of Worlds, Durham: Duke University Press, 2018
Sophie Krier is a relational artist, researcher, educator and editor. Through her work she interweaves biographies of beings and places, and conceives tools and situations for collective narration and reflection. Since 2008, Krier leads Field Essays, a series of hybrid publications, which enables listening pauses between practitioners and thinkers across disciplines. In 2018, Krier initiated School of Verticality, a series of acupuncture-like activities around embodied, situated forms of knowing, in the context of a residency at Lungomare Bozen-Bolzano.
Erik Wong has a background in graphic design, teaches at the Rietveld Academy, Amsterdam, in the TXT department and founded Wongema: a place for work, contemplation and surprising encounters in the far north of the Netherlands. Wong and Krier met at the Rietveld Academy in 2007, where they both gave shape to different departments. They joined forces in and outside the academy. Ever since, they work together whenever the universe allows it, since 2018 under the name Making Radio. They describe Making Radio as, “A (live) radio programme about what we make, why we make it, who ‘we’ are, and in the end or in the beginning, what gives and deprives us, and others, of humanity.”