Beginning on World Soil Day, The Understory of the Understory is the fourth instalment in an ongoing series of festivals on consciousness and intelligence across species, part of the Serpentine’s General Ecology project. This year’s festival took place online at themind.fish, unfolding over two days with participations from artists, anthropologists, architects, scientists, ecologists and writers from all over the world.

A mere handful of soil holds 50km of fungal mycelium and 100 billion bacteria. The fourth of the ongoing festival series on consciousness and intelligence across species and beings takes us right into the ground. With The Understory of the Understory, we go to that place which is simultaneously ground, land, soil and Earth, that is to say, the place where diverse species come together, collaborate, communicate and constitute one another but also where complex systems of redistribution of toxicity, logics of extraction and geopolitics meet.

We’ll encounter a universe where lichens and mycelium, vertebrates and invertebrates, bacteria and pathogens, roots and the soil itself come together and constitute one another. Anthropologists, artists, foragers, scientists will tell the stories and share the lessons of this teeming density.

Day One,12pm – 5:45pm, Saturday 5 December

Day Two: 12pm – 5:45pm, Sunday 6 December

The following artworks will have audio-described versions, which will be made available via Serpentine’s Twitter account and on themind.fish: The Coven Intelligence Program, Which plant would you choose to teach ethics to artificial intelligence? (2019); Adham Faramawy, The air is subtle, various and sweet (2020); Karrabing Film Collective, Just because you can’t see it… (2018); Asad Raza, Ge (2020); Ayesha Tan Jones, Into the Eartheart – a walk, a conversation, an exchange (2020); Leena Valkeapäa and Oula A. Valkeapäa, Manifestations (2017).

Curated & Produced by

The Shape of a Circle in the Mind of a Fish is a long-term research and festival project by Lucia Pietroiusti (Curator, General Ecology, Serpentine Galleries) and writer and editor Filipa Ramos with Holly Shuttleworth (Producer, Serpentine Galleries) and Kostas Stasinopoulos (Assistant Curator, Live Programmes, Serpentine Galleries). Visual identity by Giles Round.

Programme Editor, Kostas Stasinopoulos
Web Development (themind.fish), Shaun McCallum
Film and Video Production, Jesse Watt, Pundersons Gardens
Audio Descriptions, Leah Clements
Subtitling, Simon Tegla

Programme

From Friday 20 November

Serpentine Podcast presents: Future Ecologies: On Fire

Saturday 5 December, 12pm-5:45pm GMT

12pm-2pm GMT

Bettina Korek, Introduction
Lucia Pietroiusti and Filipa Ramos, Introduction
Hans Ulrich Obrist, Introduction and conversation with Tim Ingold
Maria Puig de la Bellacasa, When the word for world is soil. Notes on the troubles of ecological belonging
Alex McBratney in conversation with Asad Raza
Long Litt Woon, The Way Through the Woods: On Mushrooms and Mourning

2pm-4pm GMT

Lynne Boddy, Death and Decay – The Keystone of Life in the Natural World
Angelica Patterson, Seeing the Forest for the Trees: A Look into the Physiological Responses of Temperate Trees in a Warming World
Elizabeth-Jane Burnett, Little Peach
Merlin Sheldrake, Entangled Life, followed by a conversation with Filipa Ramos and Lucia Pietroiusti
Leena Valkeapäa and Oula A. Valkeapäa, Manifestations (2017, 15′)
Elizabeth Povinelli, Melting Glaciers, Rising Seas. When I am no longer a human, but nor am I a fish

4pm-5:45pm GMT

Thandi Loewenson, A Taxonomy of Flight
Elaine Gan, Magtanim Ay Di Biro: Planting Rice Is No Fun, Bent From Morn Till the Set of Sun
Karrabing Film Collective, Just because you can’t see it… (2018, 2’36”)
Asim Khan, Decomposition into Ghazal
Kostas Stasinopoulos, Introduction
Ayesha Tan Jones, Into the Eartheart – a walk, a conversation, an exchange
YaYa Bones, EARTHEART

Sunday 6 December, 12pm-6pm GMT

12pm-2:30pm GMT

Lucia Pietroiusti and Filipa Ramos, Introduction
Yasmeen Lari and Sumayya Vally, Letters to architecture, letters to the planet and a love letter to a young architect of colour
Tim Ingold, Creatures of the soil, reborn
Daisy Lafarge, Life Without Air
Andrew Adamatzky in conversation with Merlin Sheldrake
Kostas Stasinopoulos, Introduction
Adham Faramawy, The air is subtle, various and sweet
Jay G. Ying, Requiem

2:30-4:30pm GMT

James Fairhead in conversation with Merlin Sheldrake
The Coven Intelligence Program (efrén cruz cortés, Margaretha Haughwout, Suzanne Husky), Which plant would you choose to teach ethics to artificial intelligence? (2019, 27′)
Simone Kotva, An Enquiry Concerning Nonhuman Understanding: Mysticism and Plant-Thinking
Sumayya Vally, Counterspace, Ingesting Architectures, 2014, 2015, 2020, ongoing, 13’15”

4:30-5:45pm GMT

Daisy Lafarge, We eat each other up
Marisol de la Cadena, ‘Cow sex’ in translation: what if what we see as ‘cow sex’ they (cows) engage in as play?: A conversation with Filipa Ramos and Kostas Stasinopoulos
Sean Cho A., About the Soul
Asad Raza, Ge (2020)

Participants

Participants include: computer scientist Andrew Adamatzky, decomposition ecologist Lynne Boddy, musician YaYa Bones, poet Elizabeth-Jane Burnett, poet Sean Cho A., techno-botanical coven The Coven Intelligence Program (efrén cruz cortés, Margaretha Haughwout, Suzanne Husky), anthropologist Marisol de la Cadena, anthropologist James Fairhead, artist Adham Faramawy, podcast Future Ecologies, artist Elaine Gan, anthropologist Tim Ingold, artists Karrabing Film Collective, poet Asim Khan, theologian Simone Kotva, poet Daisy Lafarge, architect Yasmeen Lari, architect Thandi Loewenson, anthropologist Long Litt Woon, soil scientist Alex McBratney, plant ecophysiologist Angelica Patterson, anthropologist Elizabeth Povinelli, science-and-technology studies scholar Maria Puig de la Bellacasa, artist Asad Raza, artist Giles Round, biologist Merlin Sheldrake, artist Ayesha Tan-Jones, artist Leena Valkeapää with Oula A. Valkeapäa, architect Sumayya Vally, journal The Willowherb Review and poet Jay G Ying.

Archive

Discover 50 years of the Serpentine

From the architecture pavilion and digital commissions to the ideas marathon and the General Ecology programme, explore 50 years of artists, projects and exhibitions.

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