Ecology and social development are themes the Formafantasma symposium Learning with will certainly cover, alternating transdisciplinary conversations, lectures, and video projections. Prominent contributors will include graduate students of the GEO–Design Department (Design Academy Eindhoven), researcher and design curator Angela Rui, and Rebecca Lewin, senior curator at Design Museum London.
“The symposium will not be about us at all. Our way of showing who we are is by presenting young talents, such as our students.”
Simone Farresin, Formafantasma
GEO—DESIGN is a two-year master's course at Design Academy Eindhoven, led by Formafantasma. GEO—DESIGN is a platform to explore the social, economic, territorial, and geopolitical forces shaping design today. This year, GEO—DESIGN delivers its very first graduates, some of whom will also participate in the symposium:
PROMISES FOR BUSINESS by GUDRUN HAVSTEEN-MIKKELSEN
In the making of the ‘new’ Arctic, Greenland has been resituated by soaring global demands for minerals and metals, a shrinking ice cap, and a mining sector’s eagerness to grow. Despite the promises of wealth that mining activities were to deliver, only one mine is currently operating. Promises for Business is a film that witnesses, documents, and questions the complexity of the Arctic mining sector’s ambitions and challenges. Gudrun Havsteen-Mikkelsen investigates with her camera the predictions, promises, and paradoxes of mineral exploration and exploitation when different actors attempt to establish Greenland as a mining nation. In the role of a visual journalist, Gudrun traces the political tensions in the ‘race for resources.’
A MOMENT IN LAW RE!MAKING by AYLA KEKHIA
Frontex’s multiple legal and moral violations of its purpose, role, scope, and limitations as European Border and Coast Guard Agency are subversively legalised by Ayla Kekhia’s correction of Regulation (EU) 2019/1896 into an amended Regulation (EU) 2022/1896.
Set against Frontex’s ongoing push-back operations in the Aegean Sea, this multimedia performance collapses the distances between the magisterial, austere, and impersonal process of law-making and the adversity experienced by illegal migrants due to the EU’s failure to uphold its laws. Rejecting the altruistic image of Europe, it performs the intrinsic relation between law-making and the oratory act, deconstructed as an institutional framework and a performative act.
NEO COOLERS by CLAUDIA PAREDES INTRIAGO
Neo Coolers caps of a body of work Claudia Paredes Intriago developed at the European Ceramic Workcentre in Oisterwijk, exploring the use of clay, and thus of water, to refrigerate spaces of resistance without consuming natural resources. Paredes’s drive is to link clay’s cooling properties with data centers in desert lands, investigating a territory of stark contrasts marked by water scarcity and omnipresent technological expansion. The designer’s work is inspired by human and non-human knowledge, intertwining botijos de filigrana—traditional Spanish pitchers—with the intricate cooling structures of termite nests. In collaboration with EKWC, European Ceramic Workcenter, Oisterwijk.
AT THE FUNCTION (I SHAKE MY ASS) by CONNOR COOK*
DANCE DANCE Revolution is an arcade game that challenges players to dance in time with rhythmic cues on screen. Recently, a group of dancer-hackers reworked the game to run faster and longer than ever before. To succeed in this new version, the players' bodies must remain entirely still save the rapid micro-movements of the feet. Connor Cook views the optimised movements of the dancers as an allegory for contemporary technoculture under capitalism, organised around efficiency, standardisation and submission. At the Function (I Shake My Ass) reappropriates the logic of the dance game to articulate an alternative relationship to technology that is open, indeterminate, and playful.
*Cum Laude, nominee Gijs Bakker Award
WHO CARES ABOUT BULLFIGHTING? by ELSA CASANOVA SAMPÉ
Despite signs of waning popularity, bullfighting still exists in the collective imagination as an enduring, if stereotypical, representation of Spanish culture. Through seemingly mundane and banal devices, Elsa Casanova Sampé explores the mechanisms that instrumentalise and fetishise the narratives of this niche spectacle. Who Cares About Bullfighting? is a live-streamed performance set against a decontextualised backdrop, deconstructing the gestures, rituals, images, and environments making up this practice in order to unfold the frictions of portraying images as immutably consensual and unified. Even if no one ‘actually’ cares about bullfighting, its romantic aspirational promise expands into current precarious labour conditions that mask and channel similar ideologies.
REQUIEM FOR A RIVER by EMMIE MASSIAS
THE PROMISE of hydroelectric power as a renewable and cost-e#ficient resource obscures the loopholes within the Mekong River’s international water management policies. Through a performative installation, Emmie Massias reveals the geopolitical dominance of the hydropower dam as a border of conquest and control over shared water resources. The project invites the audience to participate in the process of ceramic slip-casting to reflect on, record, and embody the imperial altitude of the dam. With a system of individual modular moulds allowing multiple configurations to form a collection of vessels and water pitchers the performance reveals the dam’s effects on altering the precarious landscapes and native populations of the Mekong Delta.
IF YOU WORK FOR A LIVING by STEFANO FUSANI
Home to the largest concentration of greenhouses in Europe, Almería represents a primary industrial agriculture production complex spanning 40,000 square meters bordering the only European desert. 120,000 people depend on the plastic-covered complex. Roughly 20% are undocumented migrant workers living in the region’s slum areas. If You Work for a Living is a film that considers the current industrial heritage of the region through its past, as a backdrop in cinematic westerns. The film sources sounds and phrases from Sergio Leone’s Dollars trilogy that relate to the territory and work-related topics, and presents a new narrative focused on the people who work and live here today.
THE BITTERSWEET MEMORY OF THE PLANTATION by YASSINE BEN ABDALLAH*
The history and culture of the oppressed are rarely embodied in material objects. Yassine Ben Abdallah investigates the disappearance of archival materials regarding the enslaved and indentured labourers of the sugar plantations of La Réunion. The former French colony has been shaped by the monoculture of sugarcane, however, the only objects left of this history pertain to the white masters. How can stories of the labourers be narrated without objects testifying to their existence? Situated in the plantation museum, Yassine’s work creates a confrontational encounter where dripping sugar machetes oppose the master’s artifacts, raising the question: whose heritage and history are allowed to be preserved, narrated, and immortalised?
* Cum Laude, nominee Gijs Bakker Award