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Multispecies Communities: As Plants See It

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A conversation between Arjen Mulder, Zheng Bo and Brigitte van der Sande about multispecies communities

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This programme will be live streamed from the Who is We? digital exhibition on 18 June, from 4 PM (CEST).

A conversation between Arjen Mulder, Zheng Bo and Brigitte van der Sande about multispecies communities in the context of the Dutch contribution to the 17th International Architecture Biennale in Venice: Who is We?

“Change yourself to sustain the world.” According to biologist and publicist Arjen Mulder, this is the plant’s rule of life. Mulder wrote a highly original and interesting book (Vanuit de plant gezien, Arbeiderspers, 2019) that does exactly what it promises: shows us the world through the eyes of the plant. The empathic ability to put yourself in another person’s shoes is one of the most important qualities for living together. It allows us to experience ourselves in relation to the other. Mulder takes this one step further by putting himself in the plant’s place, so creating more understanding and appreciation not only for its architectural construction, but also for the need for an interaction between humans and plants.

Arjen Mulder talks to Hong Kong artist Zheng Bo who – in his own words – was called into action in 2013 by plants, insects and soil to prevent a plant-covered spot in Shanghai from being bulldozed to create a square for humans-only concerts. Since then he has been creating video works, gardens and drawings that explore the relationship between humans and plants. Brigitte van der Sande, independent curator and initiator of Other Futures, moderates the discussion. She is currently working on the second edition of Other Futures, focused on the question: how to create multispecies communities?

For the occasion, the chapter Life as a Plant has been translated into English by Paul Vincent and designed by Rully Irawan. This edition will be made available to attendees free of charge.

Arjen Mulder

Arjen Mulder is a biologist and publicist. His essays are characterised by a combination of research and his often speculative interpretations of it. Mulder covers a wide range of topics in which he uses multiple disciplines: biology, media theory, anthropology and literature.

Zheng Bo

Zheng Bo lives and works on Lantau Island, Hong Kong. Committed to multispecies vibrancy, he investigates the past and imagines the future from the perspectives of marginalised communities and marginalised plants. He creates weed-filled gardens, living slogans, and eco-queer films to cultivate ecological wisdom beyond the Anthropo-extinction-event.

Brigitte van der Sande

Brigitte van der Sande is an art historian and independent curator based in the Netherlands. She takes an interdisciplinary approach to international cultural topics, and seeks new connections between different worlds and audiences. Van der Sande works as a freelance curator and fundraiser for art institutions, cultural organisations and public services, besides initiating her own long-term projects, such as Other Futures.

Image: Pteridophilia, Zheng Bo 2016

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Organizer Het Nieuwe Instituut

Organizer of Multispecies Communities: As Plants See It

The contemporary era is characterised by radical technological, economic, cultural and social shifts. Het Nieuwe Instituut aims to illuminate and map a rapidly changing world while at the same time fostering discussion of topics related to the vast field of design.

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