We’re excited to announce a two-day symposium that corresponds to a new commission by artist Stéphane Verlet Bottero as part of Void Art Centre’s current project Composting for the future. The artist expanded on the concept of desensitisation as outlined in the text Are we insensitive to the ongoing devastation? by Lena Silberzahn. As a team we approached this idea through shared reading and a workshop that expanded on Void’s use of resources. 

The act of re-sensitisation was also investigated by Stéphane in collaboration with Echo Echo Dance Company which resulted in a video work realised in Derry City. Re-sensitisation is a process by which we rediscover our ability to care for our surroundings, and the living beings that make up the world around us. The video expands on how we can connect with our surroundings and explores how architectural arrangements can be reclaimed to re-sensitise the body. Together, the artist and Echo Echo reflected on the loss of sensitivity facing current crises, and how our bodily connections to the earth can enable us to regain our empathy and perception of our surrounding environment.

This symposium will build on these learnings, reflecting on the idea of re-sensitization through cooking, talking and dancing. Together, we will share and discuss tactics for feeling again and start the process of re-sensitisation. 

Read more about the schedule for the symposium below: 


Tuesday 14 May 2024: 

6pm- 9pm eating soil, thinking soil: a communal meal to celebrate our metabiontic condition with Cocina Colaboratorio

To launch the symposium, we will host a communal meal with Cocina Colaboratorio. Together, we will prepare dishes with ingredients grown from the soil, such as root vegetables, herbs and grains. This collaborative cooking experience is a metaphor for the symbiotic relationships that sustain us. We’ll explore the vital role soil plays in our lives, not just as a medium for growing food but as a critical component of the earth’s ecosystem that supports all life forms. 

As we cook we will reflect on the idea of ensoilment, a concept introduced by Sophie Strand in her work exploring the relationship between soil and the human body, suggesting that humans are connected to soil physically, spiritually and emotionally. The term ensoilment encompasses the idea that our well-being is intricately linked to the health of the soil, highlighting the importance of nurturing and preserving the Earth’s soil for both ecological and personal health reasons. Strand’s work encourages a deeper understanding of our connection to the natural world and emphasises the need for sustainable practices to protect the soil and, by extension, ourselves.


Wednesday 15 May 2024: 

11am-12.30pm: Keynote lecture and discussion by Pascal Gielen, Overheated Cultures in Undercooled Flatscapes 

The symposium continues with a lecture by Pascal Gielen, who will delve into the interplay between nature, culture, and mental health. He will spotlight the cultural sector’s challenge: the tension between the need for physical nearness in cultural exchanges and its ecological consequences. Critiquing digital technology’s failure to fully replace in-person interaction and address climate issues, he stresses an urgent need for a cultural shift. Pascal will explore aesthetic solutions to reimagine our relationship with the earth, advocating for a redefinition of our cultural practices that respects the planet’ s ecological limits.


1.30pm-2.30pm: Talk by Adrian Balseca 

Artist Adrian Balseca will speak about his work, which looks to activate strategies of representation, narration, and/or interaction in order to highlight ecosystem specificities of a particular territory. The artist will also introduce his future commission at Void Art Centre titled Nyctalopia, which will launch in late June 2024.


2.30pm-3.30pm: Dance workshop with Echo Echo

In the afternoon, we will relocate to Echo Echo Theatre for a movement and informal dance workshop that embraces the poetic possibilities of everyday movement by paying deeper attention to our intuition, and authenticity as natural movers. 

Comfortable clothing is recommended. 


4pm-5pm: Assembly and closing remarks 

Upon returning to Void Art Centre, we will have a moment to discuss and reflect on the symposium. 


5.40pm-7pm: Reading Group by Yujin Lee 

The day will end with a reading group hosted by Yujin Lee, our next artist in residence for the month of June. The artist will introduce and invite discussion on old and new texts that offer a wide-range of ecological, relational, and artistic paths in understanding our entangled world of humans, non-humans, and spiritual beings

Readings will be sent in advance, with texts by Trinh T. Minh-ha, Theresa Hak Kyung Cha, Anna Lowenhaupt Tsing, Yasmine Ostendorf-Rodríguez.