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Neuhaus Curriculum: Do Humans Care For Algae?

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Het Nieuwe Instituut

Museumpark 25

3015 CB Rotterdam

Netherlands

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Johanna Weggelaar X Neuhaus

While life is still a mystery in many ways, the search for its origin leads us back to the first single-celled blue-green algae that appeared in the oceans about 3,5 billion years ago. Algae developed photosynthesis. They use the energy of the sun to convert carbon dioxide into organic matter while releasing oxygen as a by-product. Thanks to the continuous activities of these first algae the atmosphere slowly enriched in oxygen and became favorable to the apparition of more complex forms of life. Multicellular organisms, plants, animals gradually conquered the oceans, the lands and the airs.

Algae are the real architects of life, currently responsible for more than 50% of the oxygen production on Earth and for a large part of carbon sequestration. They are at the basis of the food chain. Growing in all fresh and sea water as well as in the most peculiar and extreme places on Earth, they have developed fantastic symbiosis strategies to cohabit with other living species.

Humans – and all living things – are obviously deeply depending on algae. Yet, humans still know so little about those fascinating organisms. While algae are more and more promoted by humans as one miraculous solution to solve the climate crisis, they will most probably outlive humanity… What can we learn from them while we still can?

At a time when it becomes urgent to rethink how humans cohabit with other forms of life, this research projects intends to explore algae as an ambassador to reframe our understanding of the world.

n a series of 3 workshops we will explore the history and role of the algae on Earth, challenge our human perception of the world and investigate possible relationships with these organisms.

In each session, a guest speaker will highlight a specific topic and inspire the participants to explore more-than-human worlds.

Workshop 1 - A History of the World by the Algae - 04/09

From their apparition in the primordial soup on Earth to their possible conquest of space, algae have an extremely long history that expands on geological time scales. A closer look at their behaviour on micro or macro scale shows that algae are critical key players in the processes of life and global cycles of matter. They are a link between elements, connecting water, air and earth.

By adopting an algae perspective, we will write and visualize another history of the world that forces us, humans, to think in different timeframes, space scales and evolution strategies.

Workshop 2 - Algae Manifesto - 05/09

The study of algae proves that their evolution is a complex history of intermingled relationships with other species. We might have not noticed them until now, but algae are companion speciesof humans, challenging our conventional understanding of evolution and biological identities. We need to explore notions of symbiosis, “overlapping bodies” (Bruno Latour) and interdependence if we want to place algae and humans in a new cartography of life. How is individuality defined in this context? Who should protect the other? Can we build a new algae mythology for humans?

We will write an Algae Manifesto to praise this human – algae dialogue.

Workshop 3 - Designing Algae Encounters - 12/09

Algae have recently evolved from a neglected resource or a nuisance to a promising resource for the bioeconomy of the future. Algae are the new trend and provide superfood, antioxidants, biomaterials, biofuels… While algae farms are flourishing in Europe, how can we avoid the usual productivist and colonizing strategies of humans using natural resources? How can we design inter-species interactions? What does an algae farm should look like? What are the different materialities of algae?

We will design prototypes or experiences for physical encounters with algae.


Johanna Weggelaar

Johanna Weggelaar studied general engineering and worked three years in wind and solar energy in France before turning to cultural history. With this double background, she now works on projects at the crossroad of disciplines, aiming at creating a dialogue between different expertise fields, cultures and practices. Since 2013, she is based in the Netherlands where she contributed to curate and produce various international exhibitions that hold a critical eye on technology, society and the environment. In 2017, Johanna joined Atelier Luma as project leader for the Algae Platform. In addition to the Atelier, she is researching how to build new narratives and alternative methodologies in a context of climate crisis.


Neuhaus

For a period of four months, Het Nieuwe Instituut transforms into Neuhaus, a temporary transdisciplinary academy for more-than-human knowledge. More information about Neuhaus


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Locatie

Het Nieuwe Instituut

Museumpark 25

3015 CB Rotterdam

Netherlands

Kaart bekijken

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