For the web residencies by Solitude & ZKM on the topic »Rigged System« curated by Jonas Lund the artists Gary Zhexi Zhang and Agnes Cameron proposed the work Permaculture Network. Currently based in Sakiya, a pedagogical organization dedicated to art, science and agriculture in the village of Ein Qinyya, Palestine, the artists are in the process of building a local mesh network for the site, which functions as both an organic community intranet and a means of interacting with the environment.
Schlosspost: Your project Permaculture Network for the Web Residencies by Solitude and ZKM is strongly linked to the work of Sakiya, »a progressive academy« in the village of Ein Qinyya, Palestine, dedicated to the intersection of art, science and agriculture. What is the mission and vision of Sakiya? How did you get involved in the project?
Gary Zhexi Zhang and Agnes Cameron: We got to know Nida Sinnokrot, who is one of Sakiya’s cofounders, along with Sahar Qawasmi, at MIT, where he teaches. Sakiya is a large area of land on a hillside that is part of Ein Qinyya, near Ramallah in the West Bank. Because it’s in Area C, which Palestinians aren’t allowed to build on (though Israeli settlers frequently do), the land has become largely rewilded, and repopulated by an incredible diversity of vegetation. There’s also two historic houses on this land. Sakiya uses this existing infrastructure to establish an art space, a residency program, a permaculture farm and a summer school for young people, which brings explorations of the Palestinian landscape and its agricultural heritage into dialogue with contemporary artistic and ecological practices. There’s a lot going on, but the idea is to cultivate a new imaginary around our relationship to the land, in terms of self-sufficiency, sustainability, cultural heritage, and a future commons.