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?
Soil Futures Residency Exchange
Soil Futures Residency Exchange is an initiative between Arts CatalystRIWAQSakiya and Vessel Art Project, for artists to undertake a six-week residency. 
This is an exciting opportunity for artists who are active in the field of agro-ecology and environmental practices to delve into rural contexts in Palestine and Southern Italy and to work closely with organisations that operate at the intersection of disciplines while being responsive to their regional ecologies. 
This inter-institutional exchange is structured as follows:
  • > UK based artists can apply for a residency at Sakiya - Art/Science/Agriculture;
  • > Palestine based artists can apply for a residency at Vessel Art Project;
  • > Italy based artists can apply for a residency at RIWAQ.
The selected artists will take part in a rich exchange with local communities of practices – including farmers, ecologists, activists, artists and soil caretakers – to develop their artistic research and to nurture new and existing networks with the support of the host organisations. 
We are particularly interested in practices that speak to some aspect of ecology, climate, economy, science or technology inherent to the locality where the residency takes place. 
Applicants should research the host organisations, and submit a project proposal outlining what they would like to do while in residency in Ramallah (Palestine) or Puglia (Southern Italy), and the artistic rationale for wanting to be in residence there. Proposals may include developing a new body of artistic research and/or collaborations with artistic/cultural practitioners. 
The artistic output can have an online or offline public manifestation in the form of an event or artwork – such as a performance, workshop, informal gathering, meal, walk, sound work, radio broadcast, screening, etc.
There is no expectation or ambition to develop an exhibition at the end of the residency, rather we are interested in applications centred around artistic methodologies that support exchanging, collaborating, and practising ecologically.  
Residency Dates:
6-week residency between October – December 2022 (exact dates to be agreed on with host organisations)
Applicants should have presented previous projects publicly and have an ongoing practice.
Please note that this opportunity is addressed to UK, Italy and Palestine residents. We encourage people who are currently underrepresented in the visual arts sector to apply, including those of Black, Asian or minority ethnic heritage, those who have faced socio-economic barriers, those who identify disable and those who identify as LGBTQI+.
The majority of communication during the residency will need to happen in English, therefore good English language skills are required. We welcome basic Arabic language skills for the residency in Palestine; and basic Italian language skills for the residency in Italy, but knowledge of either of these languages is not required.
Support and fees include:
> Return flights between UK-Palestine (Tel Aviv airport); Palestine-Italy (Bari or Brindisi Airport); Italy-Palestine (Tel Aviv Airport) & practical support for travel (particularly re: VISA application process)
> Artist fee: £1,500
> Production budget: £1,000 
> Per diem: £1,100 (food and daily expenses)
> Free accommodation for 6 weeks
> Translation support for meetings – from Arabic / Italian to English (provided by the host organisation).​​

> 1:1 mentoring and support during the residency by the host organisations

> Access to the host organisation’s network of artists, curators, institutions, experts from multiple fields

> Opportunity to be involved in the broader Soil Futures programme, for instance as an active participant in the online School of Soil Futures, podcast series and local assemblies. 

*Please note that expenses listed above are for 1 person only, if you choose to apply as a duo or collective you must show how you will be able to fund both people in your application.
**Please note that the residency in Italy is happening as a collaboration between Vessel Art Project and Ramdom. The resident will be hosted in the space of Kora Contemporary Arts Center, in Castrignano de' Greci, Puglia.
29th of August at 11.59pm Palestine time / 10.59pm Italy time / 9.59pm UK time 
How to apply
Please send us a PDF containing the following information to
  • > A summary of a project proposal (250 words max)
  • > An outline of  how you think this residency could help you expand your practice and how you plan to approach the project (150 words max)
  • > CV (2 pages max)
  • > Supporting material, dependent on your practice; 10 images maximum, 3 sound pieces and/or video clips (max length of all clips - 5 min), writings / text
Please note that the application should be written in English. 
Please state in the subject line of your email the name of the host organisation you are applying for, knowing that: 
> UK based artists can apply for a residency at Sakiya - Art/Science/Agriculture;
> Palestine based artists can apply for a residency at Vessel Art Project;
> Italy based artists can apply for a residency at RIWAQ.
Selection process
Interviews led by host organisations on w/c 12 September via Zoom. 
About the host 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'. 
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.