Deadline: 01/04/2019

Nature, Art & Habitat - ALT RES 2019 call

Grasses and Pastures: Imagining a Regenerative Economy of Cheese.

Grasses and Pastures: Imagining a Regenerative Economy of Cheese 
Nature finds itself under an unprecedented assault that demands urgent reconsideration in order to address the legacy of humans’ destructive impacts. The linear productive and consumptive processes implemented by humans impose multiple, complex stresses on ecological cycles in both direct and indirect ways. 

Increased awareness of environmental impacts due to the visible effects of climate change around the globe has generated a renewed interest in resilient solutions. Inspired by history and tradition, these solutions must take into account both current lifestyles and aspirations, and unprecedented technological advancements.

This year, NAHR looks at how multiple disciplines coming together can start to address, design, implement and respond to cyclical and seasonal economy. With the Taleggio Valley as case study, one is clearly aware of its largest assets: its biodiversity; its people; and the way the blending of these assets over centuries has generated a rich culture of cheese production - two of the most famous being Taleggio and Strachitunt. The “cheese chain” starts in the high pastures, where the grass is first processed by the animal stock. It then is followed by a cycle of local production and consumption, intertwined with the larger scale global economy that put Taleggio cheeses on the world map. The cycle should be understood holistically as a combination of natural, socio-cultural and economic conditions, and any other influences that one might identify. Components of the cycle include: the biodiversity of the soil, grasses and bacteria; lifecycle elements such as transhumance - the movement of the cattle from their winter location to the summer high pastures, and all the traditions connected to such movement of cattle and people; the structures which host the farmers and the cows, with their traditional stone roofs made with local shale; the cheese making and curing facilities; the form and shape of the cheese; all of the animals involved in the cycle, including the cattle (their gases and the use of manure as fertilizer), the people, and the other fauna who build the ecosystem of the Valley; and concluding with the commercialization of the cheese, and the gastronomy that emerges. 

Today the cheese production, distribution and consumption cycle is far from being a circular economy. It is more of a hybrid model that combines the cyclical, traditional character of 'harvesting' the pastures with the more modern linear model of a production and distribution.  While many of the elements for a fully circular economic cycle are present, the current system seems to be missing a focal point that would transform it into a fully circular and resilient economy.

NAHR 2019 proposes an exploration of the possible shift towards the cyclical, using an interdisciplinary approach that aims to explore the current situation, and to generate real solutions for real situations and problems. The projects can tackle either one segment of the cycle, or the overall system. Projects can comment on the current processes, or can explore potential changes. Centered on the example of the Valley, the lines of inquiry should aim for general applicability, using the Valley as inspiration for a scalable, transferable, and more universal model of addressing the complex question of linearity and cyclicity in human economic processes.

Linearity versus circularity are two theories of understanding time, space and motion. Some of the research questions we are interested in posing to our applicants include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • What does it mean to operate in cycles?
  • What regeneration is in today’s disposable consumer society?
  • What can we ethically regenerated?
  • How are models or cycles of regeneration utilized in your respective disciplines/perspectives and what might it offer to others?
  • How will you address or speak to a particular question, and how will your work engage with finding an answer or posing new and unique lines of inquiry?
  • Why is the Taleggio Valley an ideal place for your work?

Energy - embodied and direct - and waste can be focus points of interest when looking at inputs and outputs of the lifecycle and restorative economy we aspire to achieve. Residents are invited to identify and develop imaginative ways to connect the elements present in the Valley which are part of the cheese system in order to identify and generate possible cycles in which energy and waste are balanced in a more resilient and efficient way. Depending on the DOMAIN of interest, proposed projects may draw on embodied knowledge to create a response in the form of dance material, art objects, creative writing, white papers, videos, performance pieces and/or documentation of research processes.

Experimental explorations that use concepts, theories or methodologies about a circular economy and lifecycle analyses as the framework for a forward thinking action are encouraged. Collaboration across disciplines is particularly encouraged. These explorations can be done in all mediums, and shared at the conclusion of the NAHR in forms including, but not limited to, dance performance, poetry recitation, promenade theatre, art installation, site-specific presentations etc.

Within this context, when making submissions, applicants must demonstrate the ways in which their projects will seek to engage with Val Taleggio as a shifting, multi-dimensional space in which local characteristics intersect global dynamics. Applicants should show how they intend to examine elements and ecosystems within the Val Taleggio, where the pasture itself is a particularly abundant resource on which the entire Valley’s lifecycle depends.

This year’s NAHR theme encourages applications which propose an inter- or trans-disciplinary approach across a range of creative forms and modes of expression, which might take the shape of designs, actions, events, and so forth, in which the use of pastures in the economy of the Valley remain a central and key element of the proposal. Projects proposing to observe the pastures with all its elements in both its natural and humanly altered states are especially encouraged.

Together with the NAHW (Workshop), NAHR participants will visit high and low pastures, walk across the mountains, attend dedicated lectures by specialists in the area, and be guided across the surrounding landscapes (natural and built), in order to explore local interconnections and contrast these with those in the neighboring valleys of Brembilla, Brembana, Seriana and Imagna. By offering the opportunity for site-specific investigations, NAHR encourages participants to explore interactions and relationships within the Valley’s ecosystems. We seek to make possible a range of cross-disciplinary research and, in return for offering these opportunities, we expect NAHR fellows to complete culminating presentations (designs, actions, events, so forth) at the conclusion of their time in Val Taleggio.

Description of residency program
Set in the rural Taleggio Valley in northern Italy, Nature, Art & Habitat Residency (NAHR) ECO-Laboratory of Multidisciplinary Practice, offers a lively space to productively think and create, collaborate and interact, and take full advantage of the surrounding natural landscapes, as well as Italy’s rich material culture, which combines vernacular traditions with innovative approaches to space, place, people and their communities.

NAHR is a one-month summer residency (ALT. RES. In July and August) offered to six multidisciplinary professionals and one university level student active in the fields of bio-inspired arts, design, and architecture, as well as anthropology, botany, natural sciences, literature, technology, economy, or a cross-disciplinary blend of any of these. An international jury will select the residents based on their proposals. Selection criteria includes feasibility, originality, and overall quality of the proposals. Each NAHR residency is supplied without fees, and lodging is provided for the month of June 2019.

Residencies will be awarded according to independent project proposals that best explore the 2019 topic Grasses and Pastures: Imagining a Regenerative Economy of Cheese. Candidates are asked to consider how their proposals might best explore ways to build dynamic relationships between the Valley’s ecological resources, socio-cultural practices, and the built environment. 

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Disciplines, work equipment and assistance
AHR aims to involve bio-inspired, multi-disciplinary practitioners, academic and professional, from these fields:

- Art Practices (across all platforms, mediums, modes, and materials)
- Architecture / Design
- Anthropology/Digital Humanities
- Biology/Natural Sciences/ Ecology
- Biomimicry
- Ethno-botany
- Economics
- Gastronomy
- Sustainability Studies
- Technology and Computational Sciences
- Visual Arts/Film/Liberal Studies 

in 1 or 2 bedroom apartment (single or double occupancy)

Studio/ workspace
Shared studio space available. 

Fees and support
Application to NAHR is free. June residency offers to fellows free Lodging and participation to NAHWorkshop. 

Expenses to be covered by NAHR Fellows: Flight, Travel, Supplies, Prints, Food, Extra. No funding for the above expenses is available at this time. Upon request, NAHR is pleased to provide individuals with a letter of support for independent funding purposes.

Expectations towards the artist
Artists in the NAHR residency are expected to engage proactively with the immersive environment of Taleggio Valley within its nature - mountains, woods, streams and rivers, meadows – as well as the built environment - villages, barns, trails, mountain huts, and so forth – in order to get the most out of their time. This may extend to the following: 

- Periodic engagement and sharing of work with the other residents, local people and institutions (language constraints must be taken into consideration)
- Participating to introductory workshops and field trips
- Presentation of final work
- Submittal of the project documentation (digital and analogue) for NAHR archive and donation of one piece for NAHR future exhibitions and/or auctions.
- Acknowledgment of NAHR in future works that result directly or indirectly from the participation to the Residency. 

Application information
For all details on application please see: 

Nature, Art & Habitat - ALT RES 2019 call

Nature, Art & Habitat - ALT RES 2019 call


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