European Special Thematic Gathering on Art, Pedagogy and Ecology
A thematic gathering was held in Lecce (Southern Italy) on the threshold between the year 2019 and 2020, a kitchen and a garden, the visible and the invisible, the known and the unknown. Representing different European Ecoversities, the group engaged with each other and with the local learning community, living together and sharing various artistic, spiritual, healing and pedagogical practices. Reflecting on current issues of Fortress Europe, on the socio-economic crisis and the impasse of our imaginary and languages, the contributors prepared the ground for a collectively dreamt Mediterranean Ecoversities, beyond borders and separability, gesturing towards a more just and ecologically aware learning environment, fostering a wider ecology of knowledge, and a radically different way of knowing and being together.
The threshold between the kitchen and the garden, where the group was invited to greet and reconnect with the plants, became the liminal space of our encounter: a space to be inhabited with awareness, a crack in between knowing and not knowing, a tension in which to stay between definitions and desires, possibilities and capacities, a bridge connecting spiritual aspirations and material conditions, content and form, and other dimensions of being and relating. We experimented with ways to connect art and pedagogy, and how artforms and relational/ political aesthetics could support and become embodied in transformative learning processes. We discussed the possibility of overcoming the obstacles of a language that is often co-opted, abused, or over used, that ‘speaks us’ not only to us, in a habitual or conventional way, even when we are in setting wishing to be an alternative to the mainstream; we discussed useful and unusual notions, the problematic use of ‘universals’, the artificial distinction between art and non art, or art and life, and how an artistic practice, approach and sensibility can facilitate the emergence of an otherwise.
Conversely, we problematized a certain understanding of art in the west or in art circles. All of us contributed by offering different experiences concerning the relationship with plants, human beings, forms of communication and systems of knowledge production. We discussed our projects, initiatives, tools to facilitate collective decision-making, circulation of authority and consensus based technologies. We put the basis for our European gathering opening to a larger community for August 2020.
Here is a multilingual experimental video documentary of two other exercises during the session, one just with internal participants, the other open to a community of educators in Lecce. More info here