May 26–27, 2023

Workshop »Vital Currencies«. Derivates of more-than-human encounters

In cooperation with the Department for the Ecology of Animal Societies at the Max Planck Institute of Animal Behavior

Date: May 26, 2023, 18:00 Uhr

Duration: May 26–27, 2023

Location: Akademie Schloss Solitude / Barn


The event will be held in English.
Free entry

Design: Stegmeyer Fischer Creative Studio

Currencies are cultural technologies which allow for complex social behavior to emerge. They describe a form of exchange of values, that as an abstract unit of measurement, determines and directs the way we live together. Yet in encounters with other species, we might realize that our currencies have no value in the language of our environment. While carrying symbolic value these intermediaries of social relations follow reductionist notions of value, thus failing to sustain fertile connections with what is vital to our collective wellbeing.

»Vital Currencies« centers on recalibrating our value systems, departing from practices of ecosocial renewal and multispecies encounter. Together we want to develop ecologically sensitive modes of conviviality and direct our attention to what kind of values can emerge through attentive interactions with our environment. Which stories do we need to tell in order to produce a shared sense of belonging between landscapes, humans and animals? How can we establish relationships of mutual giving and receiving in thriving multispecies environments?


6 pm

Welcome & Introduction

6:30 pm

To Foretell a Being’s Cast
Storytelling reading and playlist with Luana Lojić

To Foretell a Being’s Cast is an exploratory fiction analyzing the intensity of the sounds produced by an animal’s vocal chords and the ways in which these may embody danger and pleasure, (fore)told through acts of guided attention, memories, songs, and facts whose truth may be moveable. One of the most well-studied emotions in animals is fear. But can this behavior tell fortunes, predict and save, or is it just a reflection of our own animalistic senses? We have exploited all the margins of the animal kingdom for games, ornaments, money, youth, and food. This story thus proposes an existence in which we, as humanimals, exist in a glimmering animistic world.

7 pm

Value: A Minor Politics
Talk by Maan Barua

How might we include nonhumans within the conceptualization of value? What are its political consequences? Drawing on ethnographic research on human and animal lifeworlds in urban India, the talk Value: A Minor Politics by Maan Barua, who works on the ontologies, economies and politics of the living and material world, proposes an alternate politics of value, one articulated in a minor key.

8 pm

Ever-normal Granary
A Film by Marlies Pöschl

Ever-normal Granary (2022) opposes industrial food production with an Indigenous ecological perspective and embodied knowledge: The Chinese granary system, which balances supply and demand, ensures stability due to its constant stocks. But the apparent normality of the store begins to falter. The grain disappears, and suddenly, a steward and a mouse are negotiating issues of economics, botany, food security, food speculation and logistics. The relationship between dance and composition, assembled from natural, technical, human and more-than-human sounds, is an attempt to reframe and rethink relations to the environment in an aesthetic way.

8:30 pm

Wine tasting with OFF GRID
Location: Courtyard

One of the beauties of natural wines is the sheer variety they offer. From their dynamic color palette to their complex and curiosity-inducing tastes, wines are often a dedication to nature and the soil nourishing their vines. These locally situated practices of co-production and care between humans, plants, landscapes and climate truly manifest their effect by creating habitats for microbes to nurture and reproduce, which otherwise are repressed in conventional wine production. By allowing a different kind of micro-biopolitics to take shape, sensory experiences are possible that go beyond the reductionist taste palettes of globalized markets and industrialized production.

11 am

The Cheesecoin Series or How to Rethink Arts Economics
Workshop with INLAND
Location: Herman’s Library

This workshop offers the opportunity for a more in-depth look at INLAND’s understanding of economy and human-animal relations, drawing from the experiences of the Shepherds School and the development of the World Alliance of Nomadic Peoples and Pastoralists. INLAND’s productions, which range from crafts, publications and cheese, are the basis for alternative experimental economies. Here, the ideas concerning INLAND’s currency, the Cheesecoin, can play an important role. We will look together at different types of currencies and social bonds.

1 pm

Fermentation Station
Microorganic Tastings with Bio Design Lab
Location: Cafeteria

Constant transformation and structural change are not only found in the visible. Even in the microscopic of our food, microbes are at work, converting sugar into acids or carbon dioxide, plant fibres are changing, and entire foodstuffs are being transformed. Regionality and local production have become increasingly central to the development of urban systems; this applies to both design objects and culinary experiences.
Centuries-old techniques such as sourdough, beer brewing or kombucha use microorganisms to produce and preserve food. The domestication of microbes, which nourish our microbiome, has been finding its way back to society in recent years.

2 pm

Animals That Are Missing
Somatic workshop in the woods by Neda Kovinic
Meeting point: Foyer of the Academy

Have you ever wondered how to be tender and sensitive like a deer? Have you ever considered the stress experienced by a squirrel that jumps convulsively when we walk through the forest? Visual artist and performer Neda Kovinic invites participants from all walks of life—non-dancers and dancers, performers and non-performers—to imagine and participate in a choreography of life in the magical forest surrounding Akademie Schloss Solitude. Through sharing stories of animal encounters, experiencing the texture of moss, and engaging in gentle movements, participants can search for their immanence with unlikely species and dance to the rhythm of their hidden presence.

5 pm

Spending Time (With Taxidermy)
Presentation by Sara Bédard-Goulet

Recent research focuses increasingly on the topic of nonhumans. Scholars have turned to multispecies entanglements to gather knowledge about the webs within which individuals and communities evolve. Although these works »cultivate the art of attentiveness«, even in the case of »awkward creatures«, engaging with animals through the medium of taxidermy has garnered less attention. Admittedly, taxidermy does not offer the liveliest of encounters with animals. Nevertheless, this presentation examines two cases of staged and sustained human encounters with taxidermized animals in contemporary French literary works through close-text analysis.

6 pm

Encounters With the Wild
Performative reading by Hemal Naik

Encounters With the Wild is a humble attempt at exploring the art of storytelling through scientist Hemal Naik’s experiences in the field. »When I grew up in India, my grandfather narrated many mythological stories of gods, their mystical powers and animal companions. I started reconnecting with these stories once again when I started outreach programs on animal behavior as a science communicator. I bring with me a bundle of such stories featuring some individuals and their encounters with wild animals.«

6:30 pm

Effigy of the Beast
Screening and conversation with Helene Sommer

Effigy of the Beast (2022-) is a film in progress by the artist Helene Sommer that deals with the complex relationship we have with nonhuman animals. Part 1 (4K, 25min, 2023) of this project revolves around a series of conversations with scientists and documentation from field and laboratory work at the Max Planck Institute of Animal Behavior in Germany. The film reflects upon how and why knowledge is produced and structured, and the ways in which this affects our relationship with other organisms. The screening will be followed by a conversation between Helene Sommer and Hemal Naik on the art-science collaboration as part of the »Field Trip« residency.

7:30 pm

Animals That Are Missing
Deep listening session with Neda Kovinic

As a continuation of her somatic workshop Animals That Are Missing, Neda Kovinic offers a deep listening session, allowing participants to delve deeper into the topics, questions, and experiences from the first part of the series.

8 pm

On the Move: Pastoralism, Tokens, Amulets and Spirits
Fernando García-Dory and Mi You in conversation

In their conversation, Fernando García-Dory and Mi You will discuss topics ranging from pastoralist cultures and currencies to talismans. They will further consider the possibility of a socio-environmental financial support mechanism by examining INLAND’s investment plans and the case study of the Shepherds School Bonds.

7 pm

Exhibition opening of glimmering gleanings
Satellite program with Luana Lojić at WUNDERKAMMER NATURALIA / ARTIFICIALIA
Where: Badstraße 32, Bad Cannstatt

WUNDERKAMMER – NATURALIA / ARTIFICIALIA is a temporary, non-commercial project space at the center of Bad Cannstatt, which exists separately from pre-established cultural hubs, aiming to bring contemporary art into the public space. As such, it is a counter-model to its historically romanticized original. Drawing from its title, multimedia installations connect a formative part of Western history with aspects of our present. In this context, themes of ecology and nature as well as technological progress, such as AI and virtuality, which are constantly merging into society and culture, are being addressed.
A cooperation between Akademie Schloss Solitude and WUNDERKAMMER NATURALIA / ARTIFICIALIA

With contributions by: Maan Barua, lecturer in human geography at the University of Cambridge, United Kingdom | Sara Bédard-Goulet, research fellow at the University of Tartu, Estonia | Bio Design Lab | Fernando García-Dory, artist and agroecologist, founder of INLAND, a collaborative platform based in different locations in Spain & Mi You, professor of Art and Economies, based in Kassel, Germany | Neda Kovinic, performer, filmmaker and installation artist, Belgrade, Serbia | Luana Lojić, multimedia artist, based in Zagreb, Croatia | Hemal Naik, researcher and storyteller from India, based in Konstanz, Germany | OFF GRID | Marlies Pöschl, visual artist and filmmaker, Vienna, Austria | Helene Sommer, visual artist, Oslo, Norway | WUNDERKAMMER – NATURALIA / ARTIFICIALIA

The event takes place as part of the program art, science & business and in cooperation with the Department for the Ecology of Animal Societies at the Max Planck Institute of Animal Behavior. All formats will be in English. Admission is free.