& IGA project
Embodied Democracies is an ongoing research project on embodied practices that foster the rise of democratic encounters, spaces, and interrelationships, through the lenses of Ecosomatics and Somatic Architecture (fields that focus on bodily and spatial awareness for psychological, social, and political growth of the individual and the collective).
A 6-month-residency, Fresh A.I.R., by URBAN NATION foundation in Berlin, and funded by Stiftung Berliner Leben, I have been working on the development of practices that grow a sense of democracy within the human body from the perspective of ECO-Somatic Architecture (=the process of designing or acknowledging immersive multisensory experiences between bodies and physical or imagined/virtual environments/spaces).
The occasion for the development of this project was the intense and violent police interventions in public spaces during the COVID lockdowns in Greece in 2021. The violation of the human right to breathe was exceeding the typical safety measures, revealing a shifting point of abusive power in the paradigm of Greek governance, which is self-called DEMOCRACY.
photo by Victoria_Tomaschko
The idea of this project was born as an impulsive response to "How can someone resist the absurdity of fake democracies"?
How can we re-claim what is good for our own bodies in times of absurd measures and governments that can't logically judge when someone is a criminal or just searching for a space to literally breathe?
My research focused on practices of shifting our perspective (whether physical or mental) in order to embody the position of Otherness in this world and be able to form a fair and multi-informed judgment. This approach was not only focused on the experience of humans but was extended to the non-human as well as the experience from the perspective of the environments/spaces we inhabit.
How do plants see human actions?
How do buildings experience our movement inside their 'body'?
How do mountains feel when we extract masses from their volume?
How does another body feel when we steal her/his/their right to breathe and move freely?
These questions guided my movement research in a variety of spaces, from my home where I observed and documented my co-living with plants, to the public spaces where I invited participants to approach life in new ways, to engage with architectural elements and urban nature with their full bodily potential (touch, smell, sight), and to reflect on the ways we can expand these experiences to feel connected and part of the whole diverse ecosystem.
Imaginary Gardens Academy
IGA is the acronym of an imagined but real new type of Institution where participants CO-study the (e)CO-realities with plants and more-than-humans, and more-than-spaces.
How can we inhabit environments in non-violent ways?
How can we allow spaces to inhabit our bodies and lived experiences?
How can we learn through embodied practices that bridge the perceived distance between Us (humans) and Otherness (nature, matter, organisms)?
How can we perceive our bodies as part of Otherness?
What are the practices of feeling whole within our bodies and within the world?
How can we move interchangeably from a Self-image to a Whole-image, shifting our perception from self-centrism to whole-centrism or even A-centrism?
The Imaginary Garden Academy was born as a physical and imagined space of self-acquired knowledge that is free and openly distributed amongst all entities. It is a space where embodied knowledge is valued for its uniqueness and for its innovative contribution and perspective in the shaping of collective knowledge and collective awareness.
Drawing inspiration from the idea of the Epicurean Gardens, this project aims to emphasize the importance of free movement in spaces for the bodies to gain experiences and most importantly be able to process these experiences at their own, and not enforced, pace.
Movement, here, is considered the primal enactment for any experience, that enables learning through the activation of senses, the shift of visual perspective, the ability to experience time, and the primal force that indicates the presence or absence of life.
In order for Knowledge to self-emerge the bodies need to be free to listen to themselves and through themselves to meet Otherness, or meet themselves as part of Otherness.
The IGA suggested an anti-educational program of self and collective-acquired knowledge which was mainly inspired by Evan Thompson, a professor of philosophy at the University of British Columbia, and his book "WALKING, DREAMING, BEING". This book inspired me to design workshops in the public space of Berlin city, as part of the residency program Fresh A.I.R. and in collaboration with other artists and collectives as well as with other organisms such as a series of domestic plants and imagined networks of mycelia. Within the course of 12 months, the IGA, organized:
1 public workshop in collaboration with Pionear Art Collective in Berlin.
1 participation in the Group Exhibition "Picturing Democracy" by Fresh A.I.R. Residency and URBAN NATION, in Berlin
1 Pop-Up Installation, "The Tent Of Consciousness", an immersive participatory installation on the idea of Collective Consciousness using Mental Mapping as a tool for visualization of our individual and collective entangled narratives.
1 Online Symposium, where artists from various disciplines and countries were invited to elaborate on the idea of "Embodied Democracies" through their respective artistic approaches.
1 Performing Arts & Architecture Residency in Greece under the title "Dreaming of (e)CO-Realities", how imagination and our subconscious processes play a significantly important role in the shaping of our individual and collective perception of what constitutes reality.