Special selection for the ARCH+ Cohabitation exhibition in Berlin:
Vendor Beast – Finn Dove
Dirt – Blanka Dominika Major
Elysia - Natalya Dikhanov, Sadie Imae, Zak Forrest
I’m not mad, I’m Nomad - Tomiris Batalova
The Golden Age - Valeria Meiller, Agustin Schang
A Dove Tale – Will Fu
Xenobia - Aitor Frias-Sanchez, Joaquin Perailes
Cow &Co - Anastasia Eggers, Ottonie von Roeder
Animalesque, a radical forecast – Elettra Fiumi
Am I still an Animal? – Femke Lokhorst, Job Oort
Finding Place – Karim Sabry
Next of Skin - Martyna Poznanska
Delirious NY part 2 – Jose Nadal
The Animalesque Surface – Teagan Dorsch
I ask you for a shelter - Yaching Cheung, Anne-Marie Heydeck
Zoo of the future – ZOOOF
A year ago, while Covid-19 was shaping its impact on our daily routines, we were rethinking the format for the Animalesque Visiting School*. Using the format of a competition and the medium of film in a mainly architectural playfield was new for us. We did not know which direction the project would take and what outcomes to expect.
Throughout the year we were able to share thoughts and get great inspiration and support from the jurors and the advisory board of the competition. The roundtable event with them in February really helped to push the level of the competition. We are grateful to work with them.
Almost 50 films were submitted and we are amazed by the variety in perspectives, techniques, and formats. Going through all the movies, certain relations and themes started to appear to us. But more than that, through this kaleidoscope the contours of the Animalesque City start to take shapes. We want to shout out a sincere “Thank you!” to all participants!
Overlooking the full spectrum of entries we notice that a large part of the submissions is based on observations, often translated in critiques on anthropocentric relationship with nature and other species. Zoo of the Future, Delirious NY part 2 and Finding Place are three movies that stand out here.
With this call we are looking for radical visions about human – animal cohabitation, which in general we feel could have been explored more. Some films are offering interesting design proposals for ecosystems or architectural interventions, but most of them stay within the scale of a project and could be pushed towards ‘the radical’. Elysia and The Animalesque Surface are successful explorations in that sense.
Animation can be a great technique to leave the real world behind and build visionary and speculative narratives. This is worked out well in A Dove Tale and Xenobia. We had expected more movies to use these techniques.
Another technique that helps to break with our reality is to intensify sensorial experiences or shift to an animal’s perspective, or even behavior. In this case we particularly value Dirt, Am I still an animal? and Next of skin.
Some surreal and more humoristic approaches are offered by I’m not mad, I’m Nomad and Cow&Co. The genre of historical documentary is worked out in a promising way in A Radical Forecast and The Golden Age. A remarkable large amount of the entries have birds as their subject. I ask you for a shelter links their obvious and cinematic presence to poetry in an intriguing way.
The one movie that stood out for the jury is Vendor Beast. It shows the beauty as well as the dilemmas of cohabitation in a strong and appealing way. Only a glass layer separates the two artificial worlds of the polar bears and us, humans. This glass sheet is the medium that allows for interaction but at the same time forms an essential and controlled boundary between two species that in nature would be hunter and prey. The film raises questions about freedom and equality. The polar bear can also be seen as a reference to species extinction and global warming, addressing some of the world’s most urgent issues.
* The idea for the Animalesque City competition evolved while we were observing the world during the first lockdown, probably the biggest collective experience since WWII. For us, somehow the pandemic is questioning the relationship as well as the separation between the urban and the natural. The competition was born out of this reflection on the vulnerability of ourselves and the systems we build our societies on. It also comes out of a clear realization that we all share the same very interconnected world and we need to address the topic with a multitude of perspectives, approaches and experiences. We feel that film can be a strong medium to bring these ideas to life and to exchange them in our digitalized world.
With Animalesque we aim to blur the human defined boundaries between the urban and the natural. The pandemic made us realize that this discourse is relevant and going on all over the world but takes very different shapes, depending on culture geography and climate. Urban landscapes can be seen as a vast net of cultures and societies spanning around the world, occupying and influencing all its landscapes while provoking interactions with all other species.
So we define the Animalesque City not as an eco-dream, or an utopian or dystopian environment, but as a reality that needs a radical redefinition when it comes to the relation between the urban and the natural. Maybe more than a redefinition of our physical space and environment it would mean a redefinition of the social contracts that our societies and communities are built on. But how do we write new interspecies contracts for coexistence and cohabitation, and who would write them? The Animalesque City competition aims to create and transmit ideas and visions about this reformulation of interspecies coexistence.
- Jorge Jodoy Roman, Ana Zatezalo Schenk, Sjoerd Krijnen, Florentin Steininger