Marjetica Potrč, The Sami, Along with Their Ashaninka Friends, Contemplate Coexistence with the Earth (2016), ink on paper, 76.0 x 56.0 cm. Courtesy the artist and Galerie Nordenhake, Berlin/Stockholm.
In the first ever issue of e-flux magazine (2008) Marjetica Potrč wrote a text on her 2006 experiences from the Acre region and The Croa River community – approximately four hundred families spread out across eighty thousand hectares of Amazonian forest. The community is built on ”self-organization, sustainable growth, and local knowledge”. Potrč argues that the standpoints of these small-scale structures could leave important contributions to discussions on contemporary societal issues in completely different contexts.
The exhibition On Coexistence builds on the research and projects Marjetica Potrč has carried out, in Acre and in many different parts of the world, but always with a focus on community, sustainability and building new knowledge on traditional grounds. As an artist and architect, she has often engaged in collaborations and participatory design projects. Energy and water infrastructures have often been at the core of her practise, as in the famous Caracas Case Project, Dry Toilet (2003): an eco-friendly, waterless toilet for the La Vega barrio. In 2015, the public art project Of Soil and Water: King’s Cross Pond Club (together with Ooze) gave Londoners the possibility to swim in a big pond, free of chemicals since the water was kept clean by plants. She states that the projects aim to emphasize: “the importance of soil and water, two natural resources we vitally depend on but often take for granted […] while giving visitors a first-hand experience of humanity’s relationships and responsibilities toward nature.”
Today, nine years after the e-flux text, Marjetica Potrč´s views on local knowledge are shared with a growing number of people. Climate changes are an everyday experience and discussions about “humanity’s relationships and responsibilities toward nature” are gaining momentum. It seems we have to find ways to identify with that which conditions our existence on this planet, to see the human in a broader context – not as a sovereign but as a small part entangled in and depending on a complex weave. The sharp border between the human, the animal, the nature, seems to be transgressed. Marjetica Potrč´s oeuvre offers many entrances to this current discussion. In On Coexistence the focus lies on indigenous knowledge. To coexisting with nature is for the indigenous peoples nothing new – it´s the foundation of their cultures. The large wall drawings can be read as narratives or thought maps, visual conclusions from Marjetica Potrč extensive research.
An international seminar Indigenous knowledge – the practice of sustainable existence will be held on May 5 – 6. The seminar will gather scientists, artists, and writers: Frank Ekeberg, Douglas Nakashima, Gene Ray, Marie Roué, Judith D Schwartz, Douglas Sheil, Ànde Somby and Marjetica Potrč. More info will follow.
This year, the Sami (the indigenous people of Norway) celebrate the centennial anniversary of the first Sami conference. Sami participants from all of Sapmi – the Sami territory that stretches through Norway, Sweden, Finland and Russia – gathered for the first time in Trondheim in 1917. This celebration, Tråante, will inform the activities at Kunsthall Trondheim throughout the year.
In connection to the exhibition, architect Trygve Ohren and architecture students Sondre Lerstøl Hebnes, Tuva Marie Jørundsdatter Verpe, Anja Lian, Marie Langsholt Holmqvist, Vilde Forbregd, Kristina Stendal Karlsen, Stine Waagø and Emilie Johanne Berge from NTNU, will construct a social space in the gallery room, using the exhibition and Potrč´s thoughts on architecture as weaving as a starting point. Ohren is one of the architects behind an alternative self-building initiative in Trondheim, focusing on ecology, recycling and sustainability.
Marjetica Potrč is a Ljubljana-based artist and architect. Her work has been exhibited extensively throughout Europe and the Americas, including in such major exhibitions as the Venice Biennial (1993, 2003, 2009), the São Paulo Biennial (1996, 2006) and at major institutions such as Guggenheim Museum in New York (2001), the List Visual Arts Center at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (2004), the De Appel Foundation for Contemporary Art in Amsterdam (2004), the Portikus Gallery in Frankfurt am Main (2006) and elsewhere. Potrč is Professor of Social Design at Hochschule für bildende Künste Hamburg. She has previously taught at the Städelschule Art Academy in Frankfurt am Main and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (among others).