[-empyre-] short answer post :: all of -empyre-, what non-human relationships are you cultivating?

Lissette Olivares liolivares at fulbrightmail.org
Mon Oct 9 09:18:05 AEDT 2017

Dear Empyre Lurkers and fellow conversationalists, it has been a pleasure to participate in this forum, thank you very much for the opportunity and for your interest.

Margaretha, it seems we have similar housemates at the moment, I also have a mouse living in my oven! We tried to offer them a home that one of our architectural interns (Luba Valkova) grew with Mycelium (it’s actually designed for baby squirrels, see below) but, they did not take our offer of alternative accommodations, we have yet to try with squirrels, but since they are intended for newborns, we have hope that at least one litter will accept this home one day soon. To keep the mouse happy and out of our sugar and table-food, we offer some cheese, and it disappears, so far this has kept us in a suitable relationship. Cheto Castellano, my partner and co-founder of Sin Kabeza Productions, tends to tardigrades growing on some moss in our living room, in our bathtub there are numerous twigs, rife with lichens, who also have tardigrades living on them.  While I am not so good at remembering to spray both with water, he tends to them, to make sure the algae, lichen and their inhabitants stay refreshed. He is much more attuned to plants than I am, and reminds me of their wonder often, teaching me their names in Spanish, sometimes in a specifically Chilean dialect, I had the great fortune of listening to Ellie Irons speak about her work with seeds and I loved hearing the different names for the weeds we notice in the “wild" pieces of our neighborhoods.  

We also have mold in our fridge, on purpose! Strawberries in particular build beautiful frost-like mold tentacles, and we keep them in there, eventually we hope to press them into plaster molds, and photograph them as they grow and change.  I mentioned Matsya before, she keeps us in touch with our outside, originally a free roaming dog, she likes to be outside, all the time. There is no creature in this world who has ever given me a better home-coming performance than she does. I am practicing her performance, but she is a little thrown off when I do it for her, (the artists from Performing for Pets told me this is pretty common in their experience too).

In NJ  we have lived with both squirrels and raccoon kits,  it was marvelous, challenging, lots of work, destructive to our living conditions, but also incredibly rewarding and  heartbreaking too.  I have a project tentatively titled Performing Posthumanist Maternalisms, which is about this experience, I was drawn to the discourse of new materialisms/maternalisms by Natalie Loveless, who is a great friend, artist, curator, and scholar.

Our intention to do better by these orphans and odd kin, and it is what led us to the world of multi species design and architecture. We hope that a perspective that doesn’t reify the nature/culture binary might allow us all to have a more nuanced relationship with creatures who are often very interactive and curious about who we are too. In this regard, I think Vincianne Despret is a wonderful interlocutor, such as her work on cum panis, on performative work that allows survival for all parties involved.

In response to earlier questions that were posed around working from grief, from trauma, I would agree, and confirm that a lot of our work as artist-agents builds from grief, from mourning, from ethical blindspots, from mistakes we’ve made in the past, from confrontations with our own participation in the mess of the world. I love Donna Haraway’s theorization of staying with the trouble, of struggling to share pain, of staying with the indigestion that comes with our asymmetrical relations and impact.  I am unabashedly harawayenne in my multi species wording.  (Jake Metcalf came up with this beautiful neologism that puts together Haraway and Cayenne, her late Australian shepherd dog when Eva Hayward requested suggestions for citational linguistic options when referring to Haraway’s work, both Hayward and Metcalf have made significant contributions to theorizing the complexity of multi species worldings) 

Lissette Olivares
Co Director & Founder
Sin Kabeza Productions <http://www.sinkabeza.com/>
http://www.sinkabeza.com/architecture <http://www.sinkabeza.com/architecture>
Phone:(917) 213-9820
Email: liolivares at fulbrightmail.org

> On Oct 7, 2017, at 1:41 PM, margaretha haughwout <margaretha.anne.haughwout at gmail.com> wrote:
> ----------empyre- soft-skinned space----------------------
> Hello all,
> I'm driving across the northeast today, watching trees head into dormancy, and thinking about the conversation that has begun this week. Lots to reply to. I look forward to catching up fully this evening and tomorrow --
> In the meantime, a question for all of -empyre-::
> What relations are you cultivating with on-humans at the moment? I have just moved, so my relationships are new and fragile:
> hawthorn tree at my studio
> crabapples, apples behind my house
> wild apples at colleagues house
> mouse behind my oven
> chamomile and brassicas in my greenhouse
> boneset in the trails
> joe pye weed in the marshes
> to name a few
> --
> beforebefore.net <http://beforebefore.net/>
> guerrillagrafters.org <http://guerrillagrafters.org/>
> coastalreadinggroup.com <http://coastalreadinggroup.com/>
> --
> _______________________________________________
> empyre forum
> empyre at lists.artdesign.unsw.edu.au
> http://empyre.library.cornell.edu

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