Soil Futures

On a pale green square, the words ‘Soil Futures’ are spelled out in beige and brown letters with organic wiggly shapes, making them look a bit like worms. Surrounding the letters are organic shapes that conjure amoebas and matter examined under a microscope.
Soil Futures

Soil Futures is a network of creative organisations that explores the ground between us.

The network is a collaboration between five organisations: Arts Catalyst (Sheffield, UK); RIWAQ (al Bireh, Palestine); Sakiya - Art/Science/Agriculture (Ein Qiniya, Palestine); Struggles for Sovereignty (Yogyakarta, Indonesia); and Vessel Art Project (Puglia, Italy). 

Soil Futures traverses the practices of five organisations whose work happens in collaboration with communities within their local contexts: from combining agrarian traditions with contemporary ecological practices, to organising across art, food, land rights, indigenous and ecological activism; from monitoring pollution to connecting with wetlands through sound and different ways of sensing. 
 
Over the course of one year, this collective endeavour takes the shape of a programme featuring an artist residency exchange, an online school, a podcast series, and a season of distributed local gatherings. 
 
Grounded within the localities where each organisation is based, this hybrid (IRL and online) programme creates an intercultural exchange between artists, ecologists, activists and soil caretakers to collectively mobilise existing and future knowledges of soil. 
 
Soil Futures views soil and those looking after it (human and non-human) as active agents of change and resistance in the face of current geopolitical and environmental crises. What nutrients are necessary for soils to thrive? What practices of care and maintenance are enacted across different territories and cultures? What ecological knowledges and approaches nourish both lands and communities?

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About the Organisations
 
Vessel is a nomadic curatorial organisation and agency invested in supporting artistic and curatorial practices that are situated, responsive and research-led.
 
Driven by a biographical and epistemological belonging to the South – Southern European and Mediterranean regions in particular – and embedded in an ongoing act of hosting and being hosted, Vessel’s practice manifests itself through public programming, commissioning and writing. In the last 11 years Vessel has participated and contributed to shaping an understanding of curatorial practice connected to a locale (or locality) though not by default based within it.
 
Far from representing the rural identity of this region through a nostalgic approach and through the myth of an exotic slow life, over the past ten years Vessel has sought to enhance the complexity of this territory and of its histories – from the impact of the fascist territorial plans that have deeply modified the configuration of the area to the effects of monoculture on impoverished soils and often exploitative farming industries – by activating a dialogue between a multiplicity of viewpoints, particularly those seeking other ways of being rural.
 
During the residency, the artist will be introduced to artists, ecologists, farmers and practitioners who are seeking to tackle issues related to loss of biodiversity, soil impoverishment and tree diseases (including xylella fastidiosa) by rethinking their approach with the land and its wellbeing.
 
Riwaq - Centre for Architectural Conservation
Riwaq - Centre for Architectural Conservation is an NGO established in 1991 in an effort to preserve the cultural heritage in Palestine — it was the preservation of peasants’ architecture and cultural heritage that influenced the centre’s agenda and vision for 30 years. In 2017 Riwaq initiated its project in rural Jerusalem ‘The life Jacket: The Restoration and Regeneration of Rural Jerusalem’, rendering the villages surrounding the city of Jerusalem – with their agricultural produce, their labour force, and services – a sort of “life jacket” to the city itself.
 
This call is part of Riwaq’s ongoing research on rural Jerusalem. Recognising the local community and its practices is at the core of this call, with an aspiration to experiment with multidisciplinary methodologies, grassroots approaches, and to focus on a process based approach.
 
The works will contribute to Riwaq’s existing research and invests in Riwaq’s efforts to clarify the growing political and epistemic significance of cultural heritage in local towns and villages, and acknowledging the importance of the public sphere as a means for communal interaction, arenas for social change, preserving collective memory and reasserting and recognising heritage as part of everyday life in Palestine, or in other words; as a living heritage.
 
We are asking artists to think of art as opposing the logic of monuments, or to think of a living thing rather than a frozen object, stretching towards the social, and different hidden humans and non-human agencies. Since Riwaq’s project is situated in the north west and north east of Jerusalem, namely in Jaba’, Kafr Aqab, Qalandiya, Beit Hanina and Al Jib villages, artists are encouraged to build on the knowledge of these communities as sites of research. The resident will be hosted in Riwaq’s residency space in Qalandiya village.
 
Sakiya is a progressive academy for experimental knowledge production and sharing, grafting local agrarian traditions of self-sufficiency with contemporary art and ecological practices. This circular system of knowledge production and sharing integrates agriculture within the framework of an interdisciplinary residency programme, where cultural actors, such as farmers and crafts/small industry initiatives, assume a prominent role alongside visiting and local artists and scholars. Sakiya’s core programs engage food production, exhibitions, symposia, publications, and education/training workshops, exploring the intersections between art, science, and agriculture in a sustainable and replicable model.
 
Sakiya's residency programme brings a diversity of artists, musicians, writers, ecologists and craftspeople to the site, under the banner of Mualemin, or 'knowledgeable ones'. 
 
Struggles for Sovereignty: Land, Water, Farming, Food (SFS) is a collective platform focusing on the intersections of social & ecological justice, organised by Bodies of Power / Power for Bodies and Bakudapan Food Study Group, based in Yogyakarta, Indonesia. They develop programs both online and offline that bring together communities working from the fields of art, food, farming, land rights, indigenous (“adat”) and ecological activism to share their work and contexts with each other and the public. Through their programs, they aim to build lasting solidarity between groups in Indonesia and around the world who are engaged with struggles for the right to self-determination over the basic resources that our individual and collective bodies need.
 
Soil Futures is funded by the British Council’s International Collaboration Grants, which are designed to support UK and overseas organisations to collaborate on international arts projects.