PAF's sister residency MASSIA announces FO.R.E.ST - Forum for Radical Ecology Studies

CALL FOR CONSPIRACY
25th September - 6th November 2021,
MASSIA residency, in Estonia.

FO.R.E.ST is an experiment in learning together and outside of the educational industrial complex, attempting alliance with the more-than-human.

FO.R.E.ST inhabits a perspective on ecology, in which the ‘natural world’ or ‘environment’ is inextricably intertwined with domains of society and its organising structures – geo/politics, science, technology, economics, law, culture, and so forth. The starting point is an insistence that there is politics in nature and nature in politics.

FO.R.E.ST wants to expand modes of activism to acknowledge the agency of each of us to agitate transformation with any participation in world – based on processual reworkings, rethinkings, reconfigurations.

There will be no lecturers, students or staff. Instead, study and practice are driven by Conspirators who come together for 6 weeks at a time (one season) to study, work, live, and world together. Co-conspirators and Complotters are also part of the constellation as practitioners, theorists and activists, who join the seasons for shorter periods. They will invite deep dives and stimulate experimentation. The idea is to collectively produce knowledge, to be changed by knowledge - and also to unlearn - and not to follow canons, transmit facts and expertise.

At the core of FO.R.E.ST lies the desire for radical change towards social transformation, considering the social as more-than-human. In order to radically change, we need to look to the roots of the problem, which point towards ways of knowing and relating based on othering, dominating, and exploiting, and which cannot but re/produce a damaged planet.

By living together as a research community, embedded in and interacting with the surrounding living world, a particular type of ecology is constructed – one that converges various registers of re/production: social, environmental, domestic, pedagogic and ‘professional’. As such FO.R.E.ST offers a rich situation for questioning and reconfiguring the ways we come to know, how we embody what we know, how we participate in world, and what realities we produce and reproduce – on a daily basis.

The study will take place in the artist, activist, and research residency MASSIA, situated in a former elementary school in the village of Massiaru in Estonia, close to the Latvian border and the Baltic Sea, neighboring forests, farm land, nature reserves, bogs, and coastal marshes. Enfolded within the study is the entanglement with the site. Observing and picking mushrooms might lead to study Science’s complicity with colonialism, racism, and heteropatriarchy; ecofeminist analysis might sit next to growing food and caring for a garden; new materialism might inform soil care; wetland walks might prompt political work by means of language; learning with herbs might lead to epistemological forensics, etc. The classroom expands to the forest, bog, beach, atmosphere, and so on. FO.R.E.ST proposes anti-disciplinarity and to blur scientific, practice-based, and speculative approaches.

If you’re interested to know more, please visit www.forest-forest.org.

With whom?
Anybody interested in expanded and critical understandings of ecology and socio-environmental struggles, who wants to cultivate a long term collective learning situation, and build tools for social transformation.

For fall 2021 we are looking for 10-12 Conspirators to join the opening season based on this invitation. 5 Co-conspirators are already scheduled, and the descriptions of their invitations can be found below.

Where?
MASSIA, Massiaru, Estonia (www.massia.ee)

When?
1st season: 25th September - 6th November 2021, 6 weeks
2nd season: 5th March - 16th April 2022, 6 weeks
3rd season: 4th June - 16th July 2022, 6 weeks
4th season: 24th September - 5th November 2022, 6 weeks
And continuing this rhythm going forward.

As the study is driven by Conspirators, it is relevant to fabricate forms of continuity and it is encouraged to conspire locally in at least 4 seasons within 3 years.

Costs:
750 euro (125 euro/week), covering accommodation and presence of Co-conspirators, excluding food (ca. 30 euro/week)

How to apply?
Please write an email to info@forest-forest.org and tell us about yourself, how these descriptions resonate with you, what you would bring to the situation, and whatever else you feel relevant to share. We will organise video calls with people who signal their interest, during which we can give more context and get a sense for one another.

Co-conspirators for fall season 2021 (in order of co-conspiracy dates)

Arjuna Neuman
Arjuna Neuman is an multimedia artist based in Berlin/London. He works with the essay form as an inherently future-oriented and experimental mode, which shifts between the bodily, haptic and affective through to the geopolitical, planetary and cosmological. His recent works re-think our planetary relationships, tracing the violence of certainty in Western European knowledge and linear time, questioning the form of the universal human, and its ethical program.

In September Arjuna invites into using sound and the making of mixtapes to explore an ecological unconscious in found music and recorded sound. Tactics of remixing, selecting, cutting, and combining lend themselves to approach sound as much as history, culture, epistemology and ontology. By means of ‘worldbuilding with mixtapes’ Arjuna invites to learn how to think/speculate sonically; and to consider the potential of mixtapes to carry subversive and critical content to unlikely audiences.

Kadri Tüür
Kadri Tüür works as researcher and lecturer at Tallinn University and at the University of Tartu Viljandi Culture Academy. Her research fields include Estonian environmentalism, heritage technologies, zoosemiotics, ecosemiotics and nature representations. She is also editor of the craft research journal Studia Vernacula.

Together with Kadri we enter the fields and layers of sign relations and meaning making among more-than-human meaning making communities – in the place where FO.R.E.ST is situated, in the woods and bogs, at the neighbors’ chicken coop, in the garden, etc. We'll think about how meaning and mutual understanding is created across species' borders and how to be more sensitive towards our non-human neighbours, be they birds, plants, or earthworms.

Kadri co-organises BALTEHUMS, the Baltic Conference on the Environmental Humanities and Social Sciences in early November, which would be nice to attend together (online).

Katrina Burch Joosten
Katrina is a mother, artist, musician and an archaeologist/anthropologist. She is currently working with sound, clay, and immersive VR for scientific analysis and artistic expression. A poet by way of the ear’s eyes/heart’s mouth, Katrina gathers sounds, songs, rhythms and words into layers of musical abstraction. Working with clay, she creates domestic ware for ritual and metaphysical experiences. As an anthropologist dedicated to environmental justice, Katrina is beginning a PhD at McGill University to work in ethnographic documentary, on the cosmological ethics of Amazonian sustainability technologies in Ecuador. Her research will involve documenting archaeological findings on the prehistory of forest gardening in the region during the Pleistocene to Holocene transition, and Katrina hopes to compare sensory ethnographies of place, following genetic biodiversity research, ancestral legal knowledge and Indigenous oral histories and practices in the context of ongoing ecocide and genocide against Indigenous peoples and connected sentient kin in South America.

We will consider how to make, do, or undo ethnography, including sensory ethnography and ethnographic fiction, in the forests surrounding MASSIA, guided by a daily in-depth study group on the British investigative journalist Catherine Caufield’s work ‘In the Rainforest’ (1991). From the complicated sentient interdependencies of the world’s rainforests, to the near-impossible tasks of naming all flora and fauna, alongside the crude estimates of deforestation and effects of erosion around the globe, Catherine Caufield’s book will encourage us to think in terms of complexity, about how we might be able to document all the details of a context – an encounter, a place, or an ecosystem – at once, including the forces of industry (its persons and effects), ecological science and discovery, Indigenous knowledge, folk practices, including medicines and beliefs, and the complexity of species interdependencies. We will consider what makes an ecosystem closed, what makes it a place, and how to locate the boundaries of unfamiliar contexts (the encounter, place, and or ecosystem). Alongside Caufield’s reading group, we will investigate a range of ancestral thought documented from a few seminal Amazonian ethnographic manuscripts, so to ask, how can Indigenous knowledge, when shared and protected, inform a common political goal that is to communicate across or through ways of seeing or knowing, beyond the politics and dogmas of industrialism and individualism? We will consider diverse notions of “Place” in relation to notions of “Life”. Experimenting in forms of documentation, bridging any personal creative tools we might have at our disposal (whether aesthetic, technical, discursive or otherwise), we will collaborate to trace discrete pathways of forest life that we come across, engaging with listening and slowness as a focus/an important aspect to ethnographic documentation. Perhaps we will engage with simple practices, such as harvesting forest foods or collecting wood and organizing seeds for winter storage. Finally, we will assess the ethics of our collaboration (as between diverse social backgrounds) in the intention to create something together: since we might be non-Indigenous, or we might be settler-descendants of colonizers, and most likely we are beneficiaries in some way to the violence of industrial and commercial forces that we do not distinguish in our everyday privileges, this urges us to think about the ways in which we can become more accountable and transparent as our knowledge reach and experimentations grow.

Juss Heinsalu
Juss Heinsalu is primarily an artist who lives and works both in Estonia and in Canada. His material research explores the embodiment of life in clay, merging scientific hypotheses, mythological and ethnographic knowledge. Juss is curious about the ground, the materiality of “clay” and the perception of micro-macro scales. He investigates the prevalent meanings of mineral matter using raw clay, ceramic elements, optical apparatuses and inventive material combinations – to create speculative conditions presenting alternative clay-based lifeforms.

Together with Juss, we will take a closer look at the land we stand on, and how we could better understand our relationship to the world of minerals. We will visit Särghaua Earth Science Centre, conduct field work and hands-on experiments. By asking open-ended questions and using speculation as a tool, the aim is to investigate the narrative and perspective of belonging, the origin and aftermath of life: what knowledge is embedded in the ground? where does science merge with mythology? are rocks alive? what are the ways to see or touch geology? do materials hold memory? what kind of languages and patterns can be revealed in soil, mud or clay? what happens when light is shone through them? one day, will we become clay? etc.

Kobe Matthys
Kobe Matthys practices gardening, art, activism and research within various collectives and groups in Brussels such as Zenne Garden, Agency, State of the Arts and Apass. Kobe has been involved in self-organised knowledge and practice sharings for many years, and encountered perma-culture as a practice and lens emerging from worker’s movements in Belgium, as a counter movement to destructive corporate agriculture and its consequences to the commons.

Kobe invites to spend time with the garden, practice and discuss perma-culture – also critically, e.g. examining the appropriation of knowledges it is based on, the contradictions of systematising and transposing knowledge that is closely related to place – and to explore the multiple avenues into the political that gardens and agri-cultural practices offer (ecocide, biopiracy, etc...).

In Massiaru, this is the time to return nourishment to the soil, save seeds, do the last harvest of the year, and prepare the cultivated garden for the dark and cold of winter. This last week of FO.R.E.ST, coincides with “Putting The Garden To Sleep”, a week during which MASSIA invites its network for collective care for the garden, for feasting on harvest and tune into changes of season. Anybody in MASSIA’s network, responding to the invite, will share the space with FO.R.E.ST during this time; this might be an opportunity for FO.R.E.ST to rehearse and share, whatever has been generated, with people beyond its contemporary conspiracy.