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The Öland-based art collective Kultivator is first on the scene as Explorations of Now kicks off – starting with conversations with the biosphere

The Explorations of Now project was launched this spring by Kultivator, Cullberg and the Institute for Futures Studies. The aim is to explore how a coalescence of art and science can inspire greater civic participation and explore the challenges of transitioning to a sustainable life in a world transformed by climate change. The project’s busy autumn is now kicking off with a number of meeting places where researchers, artists and participants from various fields are invited to collaborate. First up is the art collective Kultivator, which is based in Dyestad on Öland. Starting on 1 September, they will spend six days leading conversations with the biosphere. Participants include the artists Bigert & Bergström, Karin Bolender and Signe Johannessen, biologist Pav Johnsson, farmer Henric Stigeborn, chef Jonas Rahm from Kultdjurhuset, students from Öland Folk High School, 14 dancers from Cullberg, researchers from the Institute for Future Studies, and the horse named Tussan.

“We will delve into the ecosystem of this landscape and see if we can find new and different knowledge, and above all, new perspectives. The farm here – and all farms – are places where we humans endeavour to collaborate with the rest of the ecosystem in order to obtain food or other materials, but how well does that really work? What stories and interactions do we overlook in our collaboration? What will we find if we follow a map drawn by microbes from the tongue of a cow? What do we learn about our bodies’ collective memories as we explore the suction reflex together with the farm’s calves? Or can the midland forest be presented to us by the horses that live there? This workshop, which brings together the fantastic dance, visual arts and science expertise of its participants, aims to awaken thoughts and questions that lie just beyond our ingrained ways of thinking, in order to make a sincere effort to approach things from a new perspective. We believe that it’s necessary if we are to move forward in a genuine transition of the way we live,” says Malin Lindmark Vrijman, Artistic Director at Kultivator.

Participants in the workshop are picked up every morning by horse and carriage from a bed & breakfast where they stay. During the slow journey to Kultivator they prepare for the day, and once they arrive, they engage in practical exercises and investigations together with the farm’s plants and animals, interspersed with digital presentations by remote participants. Each day ends with feedback to the visual artist Karin Bolender, who processes and reflects the participants’ material on her farm in Oregon, USA, and then sends it back to the group the next day.

Participating artists
Over the course of their extensive career as an artist duo, Bigert & Bergström have produced and created both large sculptures and installations as well as performances and films. The essence of their work is often found in the borderland between humanity, nature and technology. With energetic curiosity – and often with humour as a tool – the duo is known for analysing the scientific and social issues being discussed in today’s society, such as climate change or environmental sustainability. Bigert & Bergström will also be part of Explorations of Now’s final presentation in 2021.

Karin Bolender is a visual artist who in recent decades has run the Rural Alchemy Workshop (R.A.W.). It is a platform for collaborative, interdisciplinary artistic practices derived from rural landscapes (all flora, fauna, minerals and chemical forms that are present there). More specifically, the workshop works with actions related to metaphors, naming, memories and imagination. Through experimental art and research, R.A.W. explores relationships between native species and peripheries, while seeking out new territories and unspoken narratives among general stories, passions and needs.

Signe Johannessen’s work questions our notions of life, power structures and morality. She often draws on her own experiences, with the aim of connecting concrete everyday dilemmas with science fiction-like worlds. Actual and fictitious evolutionary breakthroughs tell us something about where we are headed. Johannessen is interested in how we write natural history and depict other species. Her work examines what our relationship with other species can tell us about power structures. By delving into history and reviewing our interpretations of nature, animals and artificial machines, her art discusses what it means to be human.

Explorations of Now, directed by Kultivator, will take place from 1-3 September and 8-10 September in Dyestad on Öland. If you wish to participate on-site, please contact the project to ensure that there is room; otherwise you can follow Explorations of Now and Kultivator’s workshops on Instagram at @explorationsofnow. In November, the Institute for Future Research is arranging its next meeting place in Stockholm, and in December it will be Cullberg’s turn to arrange a meeting place in Botkyrka. 2021 will bring a joint, comprehensive manifestation of the project.

The UN Global Goals and Agenda 2030 constitute the basis for Explorations of Now, and the project is funded by the Postcode Foundation, Cullberg and the Institute for Future Studies.

Kultivator is an art collective based on Öland. Their interdisciplinary activities include art projects and a farm that interact with social projects and environmental actions, as well as an international residency and exhibition programme. Over the years, some 80 artists have participated in the residency programme – together with some 30 cows, chickens, ducks, sheep and horses. The art collective is led by Mathieu and Malin Vrijman, who in 2017 were awarded the Dynamo Scholarship by the Swedish Visual Arts Fund.

The Institute for Futures Studies is a state-run research foundation where researchers from various social science disciplines conduct research on issues that are of great importance for how we shape our future society. The business is based on the insights of the 1960s – namely, that in many ways we humans affect not only our own lives but also future generations. All research conducted here should have a long-term perspective and clear relevance for our future. The subjects studied are regularly replaced, creating a dynamic research environment. Here researchers from a variety of social science disciplines mix and collaborate. Areas of expertise currently include sociology, philosophy, political science, business administration and psychology.

Cullberg is a national and international repertory company and part of Riksteatern. It is based in Botkyrka, outside of Stockholm. Cullberg’s contemporary dance performances enjoy a large audience, both in Sweden and abroad. Together with leading choreographers and artistic teams from all over the world, we explore ideas on how dance can be defined, produced and presented. Exploratory work is the foundation of the company, which is consistently at the centre of the international dance scene.

The Postcode Foundation is the beneficiary of the Swedish Postcode Lottery and provides time-limited support to projects that contribute to positive social change. The foundation supports non-profit organisations in Sweden and abroad that actively contribute to the achievement of the global goals and to creating positive change through concrete efforts. The projects deal with everything from human rights to environmental issues, as well as social change and education through sport and investments in culture. Since 2007, SEK 1.5 billion have been granted to over 600 projects.