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Documenta (13)

Documenta (13) presents videos of lots of great talks on gardening and social theory, don’t worry they are great talks that are accessible to all. Documenta (13) is: (from Documenta website)

An exhibition is an unfolding organism, like a vegetable bud. It comes from intuitions, then it forms an instinct, then an opinion, then a knowledge; like a plant—which contains in itself many other living entities—it has roots, buds and fruit.

DOCUMENTA (13) was dedicated to artistic research and forms of imagination that explore commitment, matter, things, embodiment, and active living in connection with, yet not subordinated to, theory. We said these were terrains where politics are inseparable from a sensual, energetic, and worldly alliance between current research in various scientific and artistic fields and other knowledges, both ancient and contemporary, and that dOCUMENTA (13) was driven by a holistic and non-logocentric vision that is skeptical of the persisting belief in economic growth, a vision that is shared with, and recognizes, the shapes and practices of knowing of all the animate and inanimate makers of the world, including people. 
And now we add that an exhibition could be thought of as a pre-reflexive consciousness, a qualitative duration of consciousness without itself. A bliss able to go beyond the aporias of the subject and the object—an experience of life no longer dependent on the first, nor submitted to the latter. Art is ceaselessly posed in life. And this indefinite life posed in art allows us to grasp the lived and living, to understand life as carried by the events, and by the singularities actualized in subject/objects. Art does not just come after life, but rather it offers the immensity of a temporality constituting spaces where one sees the event yet to come in the absolute of an immediate consciousness.

On Seeds and Multispecies Intra-Action:

Seed germinatingThe development of a collective consciousness that allows us to think and feel in sympathy with all types of mineral, vegetal, and animal life is allowing a new narrative to emerge—one that shifts the position of humans in the constellation of the natural world, placing us in a more balanced  scenario in relation to other beings. Notions revolving around seeding and the idea of multispecies intra-action are introducing new perspectives in eco-feminism that place the problem of difference or “othering” beyond gender. Inspired by and hoping to elaborate on the interrelated horizons of two main thinkers in these fields— multispecies biologist and cultural theorist Donna Haraway and seeds activist Vandana Shiva—this final conference of dOCUMENTA (13) gathers some of the most rigorous scholars, artists, and activists in these fields together with a range of committed new voices.


It is all good stuff, but we particularly like (some of the talks have longish intros, stick with it as you can’t fast forward the player for some reason):

George Mckay on horticultural counter cultural politics

In this lecture George Mckay explains the history of gardening and the counterculture, from the suffragettes, through the 1960’s to now, he discusses how gardening has been used in the counterculture. ESSENTIAL LISTENING!!

From the website:

In this lecture, George McKay will explore the recent history of the garden and the polemic landscape of plants in alternative cultures and social movements. Rather than simply a retreat of rest and repose, the garden has been also a site of ideological contestation, social confrontation, and critical utopian experimentation.

They also have Vandana Shiva talking about seed freedom, always good to listen to. Disowning Life / Vandana Shiva. Seed Freedom.

From the website:

In her keynote lecture, the physicist, environmental activist, and eco feminist Vandana Shiva will address the freedom and integrity of life, and the integrity of human freedom. Her work is based on the conviction that the “defense of nature’s rights and people’s rights have come together in Earth Democracy – the democracy of all life on earth, a living democracy which supports and is supported by living culture and living economies.

The first part of this conference discusses humans as only one form of animal life amongst many others:

Disowning Life / Vinciane Despret. And if Animals Were Working? Inventing New Narratives with Companion Species.

Disowning Life / Tron Frede Thingstad. Complexity and Simplicity in an Invisible World.

Disowning Life / Beatriz Preciado. Queer bulldogs: Histories of Human-canin Co-breeding and Biopolitical Resistance.

Disowning Life / Salima Ikram. Sacred Creatures, Beloved Pets: Ancient Egyptian Animal Mummies.

Disowning Life / Conversation between Karel Jezek and Toril Johannessen

Disowning Life / Video Conversation between Donna Haraway and Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev

Disowning Life / Beatriz Preciado. Queer bulldogs: Histories of Human-canin Co-breeding and Biopolitical Resistance.

Clemens von Wedemeyer: Muster / Conversation →

The second part of the conference focuses on questions around food and seeds, water and land, energy and de-growth.

Disowning Life / Conversation between Josefina Hepp, Claire Pentecost, Amar Kanwar and Nalini Malani

Disowning Life / Conversation between Vandana Shiva, Asif Zaidi and Mark Dion

Disowning Life / Conversation between Jimmie Durham, George McKay, and Maria Thereza Alves

Disowning Life / Artist talk by Jimmie Durham

Disowning Life / Josefina Hepp. Seeds From a Fog Oasis in the Atacama Desert, a History of Struggle and Creativity.

Disowning Life / Asif Zaidi. Seeds of Peace.

There is also lots more interesting stuff at the main website here:


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