2020 Research Program| BLACK EARTH | rescheduled to 2021
Earlier this year, we had to postpone our residency program 'BLACK EARTH - cultivating biodiversity' until further notice. We are very happy and excited to announce that, if situation surrounding the covid-19 pandemic allows it, the residency will take place during the autumn between November 5th and December 19th 2021 in the Cañon del Blanco in Southern Chile.
Resilient communities and biodiversity is what the world needs right now and more than ever we see the necessity to repair the threads that connect us to community and to the natural world in new thought provoking ways.
Within both a global and local context characterized by huge climatic shifts, ecological catastrophe and the covid-19 pandemic disrupting life as we know it, we need to learn how to live with the earth in a way that is restorative instead of destructive, whilst at the same time creating resilient communities that are able to adapt to sudden changes. The question then arises: how do we imagine living on a worldwide scale whilst also fostering a hyperlocal connection to our community and ecosystem? Or in Bruno Latour’s words, how can we be capable of ‘attaching oneself to the soil on the one hand, becoming attached to the world on the other?’ Valley of the Possible’s 2020 research program draws inspiration and hope from a phenomenon called Terra Preta (Black Earth): a discovery that gives rise to the likelihood of parts of the Amazon Rainforest being a carefully constructed environment instead of a pristine wilderness. The hypothesis posits that the abnormally black and fertile earth found scattered around was created by the patient persistence and techniques of Indigenous cultures to maintain the fertility of one of the most vulnerable and important ecosystems on earth. An example of thoughtful human planning and landscape design evolving throughout thousands of years. How can we draw inspiration from that legacy and turn towards our food systems and gardens as a revitalizing force, countering the current narrative? What are ways to interact with- and carefully construct- our environment, and how can we learn not to be afraid of our impact?
In this program we investigate all sorts interactions with ecosystems and food systems that stimulate biodiversity and resilience, some of which are related to the ancient history and culture of the Mapuche and Pehuenche people that originate from and live in this region called Wallmapu (also known as La Araucanía). We consider Indigenous perspectives and contemporary knowledge, both of which are central to people-plant relations, can deliver political as well as epistemological solutions to global environmental challenges. For the duration of the full six-week period, Valley of the Possible will organise a tailor-made program: with the first two weeks being immersive and guided, and the last four weeks predominantly self-guided. This program consists of various trips into the valley as well as surrounding areas and (Indigenous) communities, visiting examples of gardens, national parks and ecological reserves guided by biologists, farmers, chefs and specialists from local universities. It also features guest lectures and workshops by Indigenous seed keepers, wild food (edible plants and fungi) foragers, regenerative agriculture experts, philosophers, artists, Mapuche and Pehuenche leaders and community spokespeople. We will screen relevant documentaries about Mapuche, Pehuenche and Chilean culture, as well as supply a small library of relevant books. In addition to the program, we offer access and introductions to a broad network of art and science institutions and universities in Chile, Latin America and The Netherlands. After the immersive program period, there is time and freedom to deepen your practice, work on your own projects and to go on self-guided trips in the area.
From the grounds of the accommodation, participants have direct access to hundreds of hectares of native forest, several hot springs, geysers, and the Rio Blanco, with mineral water that springs from the adjacent Sierra Nevada volcanic mountain range. Apart from the program and the self-guided trips, we ask (though do not demand) our participants to consider dedicating a few hours per week to the earth and community they will become part of.