What we need
The modern boat is sinking and Noah’s ark, the first global project of survival, is rotting. Instead of a grand human survival against a world turned uninhabitable, we need to re-connect with its local ecosystems, its endemisms; we need not a unique ark but a multitude of rafts, fragile, open and resilient; we need to live in the open, co-creating mutualisms and developing symbiotic relations with animals plants, fungi, bacteria, viruses, rocks; we need to be attentive to the multilateral and multidimensional strands between organic and inorganic beings, to the countless threads that compose the delicate and complex fabric of the Earth.
A place for permaculture
In continuation of our General Humanity Labs, a multi-format platform (blog, theory-performance, video, audio) where we think, discuss, and perform the idea of a general humanity we are now launching the General Humanity Mountain Lab: a place of experimental co-dwelling with all constituents of ecosystem Earth. With the Mountain Lab we want to find the entrance to a new humility (human and humus)—joining practice, poetry, and theory through permaculture in its larger sense of the permeability between cultures. We want to seed a place of unruly, “undisciplinary” thinking and doing, a place of farming as poetics.
Common Image: Towards a larger than human communism
endorsed by Jeffrey Cohen, Olga Goriunova, and Michael Marder
transcript publishing, November 2021
distributed by Columbia UP
Common Image: Ingrid Hoelzl in conversation with Brandon LaBelle Errant Bodies (Berlin), Dec. 2021
The land/the housing
At the core of the project stands a radical thinking of the oikos (our place and our partaking in the world) and our art of living (our connection with the world). We want to create several shelters on a plot of land of 20 to 50 acres of forest and heath at about 1000 metres altitude with a source or a torrent and with a parcel of constructible land. We plan to use mainly material found on site, earth, wood, straw for building. The shelters shall be as integrated in the landscape and vegetation and as frugal with energy and water as possible (natural sewage system; recuperation of water; natural heating; bioclimatic, wooden structures on stilts; etc.).
The Mountain Lab will be a place for short or long stays, meetings, workshops, performances and symposia; it will be a place of diverse temporalities. We are now in the process of gathering people with ideas that resonate with ours, with skills that are in line with the project (architecture, forest gardening, wild food, etc.). In particular, we are looking for people who’d like to co-invest in the project and or donate land to enable us to start this adventure.
The Mountain Lab is an offspring of General Humanity, a nonprofit artistic enterprise based in Hamburg, Germany and Digne-les-Bains, France.
Get in touch with the Mountain Lab founders Ingrid and Remi via firstname.lastname@example.org. We are eager to receive your feedback and propositions!
The Mountain Lab is the fruit of our longtime reflection on the perspectival image as a foundation of the humanist ideology of dominion of “Man” over Earth and on the most recent metamorphosis of the image, the digital, where the image—merged with software—acts as a means of surveillance and control. (See SOFTIMAGE: Towards a New Theory of the Digital Image, 2015).
In our book, COMMON IMAGE: Towards a larger than human communism (2021) we propose to reactivate a common image through our ancestral memory, our forgotten mythologies, our poetry, in the space in-between a dessicated Western thought and living Amerindian and Aboriginal thought.
The common image: the relations that constitute ecosystem Earth; the common image: an ethical and aesthetic way of living.
We will select several sites for forest gardening; for each site, we will create a garden map and drawing where to plant fruit trees, smaller permanent plants, food crops etc. We will apply the concepts of companion planting (supporting fragile plants; tending to different sun/shade needs), intercropping (multiple crops sharing the same space; different levels or layers keeping weeds down), and mixing endemic species with introduced plants. In our forest gardening which is also a poetics we will follow principle of do-nothing farming (Fukuoka): no ploughing/tilling, no artificial fertilizers, no weeding, pesticides/herbicides!
Using traditional irrigation methods (natural water gradient and conduits made of water-resistant larch wood) we plan to create several wet zones adapted to the particular altitude, geology and microclimate of the site to experiment with wet-togetherness. We want to practice that bodies are porous, and hybrid, and that living bodies are “bodies of water” (Neimadis).
Living well with bacteria
Bacteria are in our guts; mitochondria used to be independent beings before joining our cellular structure; bacteria are our partners in decomposing, in breaking down nutrients (“predigestion”), in producing fermented foods and drinks for pleasure and preservation. They are part of our savoir vivre, our reproduction, our metabolism—or when we exercise too much (muscle ache). At the Mountain Lab we will experiment with lacto-fermentation as “anaerobic breathing” (Goriunova) whereby glucose is converted into cellular energy and lactic acid. We will produce sourdough bread and fermented vegetables from our forest garden.
The Mountain Lab will not rely on weeding, fertilizing, herbicides, pesticides but plant and nurture ancient and robust varieties of fruit trees, crops, vegetables, and herbs that mutually support each other. Learning from local farmers and by patient trial and error we will slowly adapt to soil, microclimate, and rainfall.
We will learn to collect edible and medical plants on the land and beyond, thereby respecting the regrowth of the plants we collect. We will engage in frugal and holistic consumption (roots; stems; fruits or flowers), transformation and conservation (low-temperature cooking; maceration; drying), slow and respectful ingestion, and forest composting. We will run regular workshops.
We will build a small garden with “kitchen herbs” and simples (medical plants) adapted to the microclimate, forgoing plants that require excessive care or watering; we will use fresh and dried herbs for cooking and healing. We will continuously adapt our herbary, following the same principles of do-nothing farming.
Previous General Humanity Labs (POSTIMAGE OPERAAAHHH!, ETH Zurich; ANIMAL ANCESTOR, Blurred Edges, Hamburg, 2020; PEAK HUMANITY, Blurred Edges, Hamburg, 2021) have focused on bringing together theory, poetry, music, dance, and performance in a stage-like format. At the Mountain Lab, we will dedicate our thinking and doing permaculture as permeability between cultures. We will invite thinkers, poets, artists, and activists to live, share, ramble, and work on the site for variable durations.
Theory-performance will continue as one aspect of a broader, sympoietic gathering which can take many forms: lecture-performances; sharings; transspecies musicking etc. The theoretical activities are not separate from the activities of the soil, but intertwined as our bodies and minds are. We will harvest potatoes at one moment and do (or listen to) a lecture-performance at the next.