EXHIBITION “NATURE IN THE CITY. NON-HUMAN HETEROTOPIAS”

The State Museum of the History of St. Petersburg

Project website

The study of several abandoned territories in the city together with artists, scientists, anthropologists, philosophers and playwrights.

The Nature in the City Laboratory is a study of several abandoned territories in the city together with artists, scientists, anthropologists, philosophers and playwrights. Many cities are becoming an atypical environment, as it seems to us, for a large number of biological species (animals, plants, fungi, etc.) that do not belong to the human race. Some of these species were here before the city appearance, others were actively brought here by man himself, and some simply moved and adapted to the new habitat.

These species have become invisible communities within the city, occupying ecological niches. Coexisting with us in the same space, weeds, pigeons and ants seem to violate the established order and sterility of urban comfortable civilization. Thus, they begin to form their alternative spaces: non-human heterotopias that are not a "normal" city, but have a strong connection with it. The anthropocentric development of human thought has made us exceptional for a very long time, as if erasing us from all natural relationships, of which we have never really ceased to be integral participants. In the context of the research project, we will consider other species in the city as neighbours undergoing joint evolution with us.

Biologist and philosopher of science Donna Haraway offers us several tools to get closer to understanding those "others" who surround us in the city. These tools are not only natural science knowledge, new philosophical and artistic practices, but also science fiction, fiction, narrative speculation. We have used all these tools. Through new knowledge and a sense of empathy, the project offers opportunities for experiment, research and reflection on how the gap between a person and a non-person can be reduced within the city by trying different ways to interact with those whom we often do not notice and reject. The purpose of "Nature in the city. Non-human heterotopias" laboratory were the creation by a group of participants of an art journal about research (art-zin) and the creation of individual works-projects for each participant separately for an offline exhibition, which was held with the support of the "Nordic Weeks" in St. Petersburg. The task of the laboratory was to deal with the idea of nature in the city from the point of view of biology, philosophy, social anthropology and artistic practices and with the help of methods of dramaturgy.

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