Anyone wondering what plankton, bacteria, smell and scent, salmon, empathy for fish and the wonderful but largely unknown ecosystem of the oceans have to do with art should visit the new exhibition at the Kulturstiftung Basel H. Geiger | KBH.G.
The Kulturstiftung is showing an interactive exhibition devoted to the ecological challenges of our time. The exhibition is an interactive spectacle and a challenging olfactory experiment and is always accompanied by specific workshops as part of the Public Program.
Following Experiments in Art and Technology (E.A.T.), an initiative founded in New York in 1967 promoting the cooperation between art and new technology, the curators Martina Huber and Gianni Jetzer started EXPERIMENTAL ECOLOGY in 2022 as a platform for artists and scientists working in the field of ecology.
The five international teams and their projects
Ingo Niermann, Alex Jordan, Welcome to My World, Installation, Experimental Ecology, KBH.G. Photo: Kulturstiftung Basel H. Geiger | KBH.G
Welcome to My World
The artist and author Ingo Niermann and the biologist Alex Jordan are asking the question: “How do fish feel?” or “How does one feel like a fish?”. They create a scenario using an AI- game with a fish avatar where visitors can develop empathy with a rather inconspicuous sea creature, its life, and its sense of feeling. A workshop accompanying the exhibition will take place on 12 September.
Sissel Tolaas, Christina Agapakis, The Suiss_ The Cheese, 2023, Installation, Experimental Ecology, KBH.G. Photo: Kulturstiftung Basel H. Geiger | KBH.G
The SUISS_The Cheese
The artist and olfactory researcher Sissel Tolaas and the American biologist and artist Christina Agapakis deal with the perception and acceptance of smell in our society. They research the microbial elements of human body odour, which has a very similar microbial origin to the smell of cheese. To further explore this connection, they experiment with making cheese using starter cultures collected on human skin. A workshop will be organised on 7 October.
Michelle-Marie Letelier, Karin Pittman, Salm Ethos, 2023, Installation, Experimental Ecology, KBH.G. Photo: Kulturstiftung Basel H. Geiger | KBH.G
The maritime and fishery biologist Karin Pittman and the artist Michelle-Marie Letelier pursue the question as to what extent a lack of empathy stands in the way of successfully fighting climate change. In their project, they explore the “geopolitical consequences of salmon. Firms from the global North farm salmon in the global South. This is precisely the problem: salmon is not native to the southern hemisphere, yet it is farmed there for the global market. These and other questions are addressed in the interactive play Salm Ethos, which will be performed three times during the exhibition (20 September, 1 October and 29 October).
Zheng Bo, Matthias Rillig, The Political Life of Plants 2, 2023, Installation, Experimental Ecology, KBH.G. Photo: Kulturstiftung Basel H. Geiger | KBH.G
The Political Life of Plants 2
The artist Zheng Bo and the biologist Matthias C. Rilling discuss the relationship between humans and plants. To do this, they include the biology, economics, communication and politics of plants and the accumulation of plastic in soils and the water environment. How do plants change due to climate change, how do they adapt, and how can humans take their perspective? Revering perspectives and roles reveals plants in a whole new way.
Riikka Tauriainen & Meike Vogt, Plankton Imaginary, 2023, Installation, Experimental Ecology, KBH.G. Photo: Kulturstiftung Basel H. Geiger | KBH.G
Drifting into the Plankton Imaginary (see also: Microscopia. Le plancton, du Léman à l’océan)
What role does plankton play in the marine ecosystem and regulating Earth’s climate? With this question in mind, the artist Riikka Tauriainen, climate researcher, and marine ecologist Meike Vogt immerse us in the imaginary world of plankton. “Plankton is sensitive to environmental changes, and its condition corresponds to the well-being of all marine life. The fact that phytoplankton, driven by photosynthesis, provides up to 50 per cent of our oxygen supply and binds large amounts of carbon dioxide is a service for which we should all be grateful.” A workshop on the exhibition project will take place on 21 October.
Martina Huber and Gianni Jetzer (and the Kulturstiftung Basel H. Geiger | KBH.G) are convinced that art can trigger change: “Today, ecology is a wide field of knowledge in which interesting subcategories have emerged. In the last decade, the impact of humans on the Earth’s biosphere has become a pressing issue that is being addressed at various levels. However, artistic and scientific approaches are often separated because there is hardly any space for exchange. We want to change that.”