Flock Frequency Colony: Listening and Storying with Soil Communities and Urban Ecologies

Photos: Janna Holmstedt

This research project will explore and develop situated modes of storying and listening at particular sites with a special attention to soil. Soils – in many instances a blind spot and a matter much taken for granted ­– are disappearing rapidly on a global scale. At the same time, regenerative growing practices testifies to the potential of healthy, living soils to capture carbon and mitigate climate change.
The project inquiries into less anthropocentric relations to land and nature, where one is situated as part of an environment rather than as separate from it. It seeks ways to re-connect with soil, understood as a living, complex system and an urgent “matter of care” (Maria Puig de la Bellacasa). The work departs from the hypothesis that in an uncertain environmental world frequently generative of fear and hopelessness, participatory and place-based interventions can offer zones of exchange as well as generate a sense of belonging, care, and empowerment. Arts-based methods provide ways to inhabit certain problems and make entanglements felt. Communication is in this context understood as acts of making common(s). 

The research is situated at the intersection of contemporary art, feminist materialist philosophy, radical gardening, and environmental humanities. Mixed methods from place-based, relational and participatory art, as well as sound art, are used in combination with non-representational theory and posthumanist methodologies.

The research has two focal points from which it operates that functions as engines of discovery: 1) The notion of “the small place” and related backyard practices, where a durational commitment as well as cyclical and seasonal changes forms and informs relations, exemplified by an urban allotment. 2) The constitution – and invitation – to an “Allting“, a Swedish wordplay that translates into Everything at the same time as it refers to an assembly with resonance in Swedish history (i.e. the Nordic Thing). Thus, through in-field and interventionist artistic praxis, the project imagines and speculates upon the possibility of “more-than-human” (Sarah Whatmore, Cecilia Åsberg) assemblies, where humans are not the privileged entity, to see if we can compost humanities and let it be transformed into a “habitable multispecies muddle”, into “humusities” as Rusten Hogness and Donna Haraway have suggested.

Principal investigator (Pi): Janna Holmstedt
Collaborators: Malin Lobell, artist and gardener, Karin Wegsjö, director and filmmaker
Funding agency: Konstnärsnämnden/Swedish Arts Grants Committee
Duration: 2020-2021

A More-than-Human Humanities Research Group