2020 has often offered a relentless focus on the negative. For our Annual Symposium in December we wish to focus enthusiastically upon the positive.
Over 5-10 December, we are hosting online a series of live and recorded events, inspired by the work of eminent human geographer Yi-Fu Tuan, on landscape and goodness.
To celebrate Tuan’s 90th birthday on 5 December, we’ll be speaking to him in conversation, which begins our programme of global events exploring how landscapes can contribute to well-being and social good, from virtual firepit gatherings to panel discussions to film screenings and workshops.
Thank you so very much to everyone who submitted a contribution; we weren’t able to include everyone despite the quality and interest of the submissions.
All events are free, but can we ask that you consider donating a one-off recommended amount of £10/pay what you can, if you register for any or all of the events. If you would like to donate more, it helps cover our costs and supports our work in funding landscape research.
LRG members do not need to donate unless they wish to. Alternatively, consider joining LRG as a member. We recently changed our membership options to reduce financial barriers to joining, so some of our options cost less than, or are similar to, the recommended ticket cost for the event.
After inviting event contributions from our members and wider community network, we are pleased and excited to announce the following events, all held online:
Saturday 5 December
Landscape and goodness: a conversation
Yi-Fu Tuan & Kenneth Olwig
5 December; 5pm GMT.
A conversation and audience Q&A on the dilemma:
The word ‘landscape’ can denote two different ways of thinking about people’s place in the world. On the one hand, it places human beings at the centre of things, where virtue is to be found in crafting ‘scapes’ or ‘scenes’. On the other, it suggests that we are just one part of complex ecological ecosystems, part of the ‘land’, where virtue is to be found acting humbly as a member of that community.
Which of these virtues will it be in the 21st century? The goodness of vaunting creativity or the goodness of letting be?
Yi-Fu Tuan is a key figure in human geography and arguably the most important originator of humanistic geography. He is professor emeritus at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and in 2012 was awarded the Vautrin-Lud International Geography Prize at the International Festival of Geography. The Vautrin-Lud International Geography Prize, considered the Nobel Prize for geography, is the highest honor in the field of geography. His work and approach continues to have great impact today, for example on topophilia, the feeling-link between person and place.
Kenneth Olwig is a professor of landscape architecture at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences in Alnarp, Sweden. He received his doctorate from the Department of Geography of the University of Minnesota, where his advisor was Yi-Fu Tuan. A combination of aesthetic, legal, literary and cultural geographical approaches characterise his approach to landscape and the relationship between society and nature. His interests range from the effect of cultural perceptions of nature and landscape in regional development, to the role of ideas of law and justice in shaping the political landscape and its physical manifestations.
Translating Palestinian Landscapes: a performative reading of “landscape” in poetry, literature, music, and photography from Palestine
Jens Haendeler & Omar Hmidat (UK/Germany/Palestine)
5 December, 7pm-7.45pm GMT / 8pm-8.45pm CET / 9pm-9.45pm EET
How does landscape (for which there is no word in Arabic) translate across language and medium in Palestine? Join us for a 20 minute performative bi-lingual reading in which we share excerpts from Palestinian poetry, literature, music, and photography to discover intersections in between landscape and notions of goodness, identity, sharing, and togetherness in an experimental, informal and light-hearted setting. Everyone is invited to stay around to contribute their own fragments of “Palestinians landscapes” and for informal conversations following the performative reading.
Jens Haendeler is a landscape architect, program head of Urban Studies and Spatial Practices at Al-Quds Bard College in Jerusalem, Palestine, and co-founder of the landscape research design collective pnevma.
Omar Hmidat is a Palestinian community organizer, researcher, and filmmaker. Omar is co-founder of rasif/رصيف, and is currently studying for a postgraduate degree with Forensic Architecture at Goldsmiths, London. Together they explore the intersections of the Architectures, Humanities and Social Sciences to engage with questions of land, landscape, language, translation, and spatial practices.
Sunday 6 December
Workshop & film
6 December, 9pm GMT
A short film by Dominique Baron-Bonarjee will lead into moira williams’ workshop on centering disability eco-somatics.
Landscape in A O
Dominique Baron-Bonarjee (UK)
A O is the sound of breathing. It’s also the name of a colour used to describe natural phenomena in Japanese. Usually translated as ‘blue-green’, what’s lost in this translation are the myriad hues traversing a wider colour spectrum. In this work, AO is a spectrum extending across human and nonhuman rhythms. Inspired by ancient land rituals, where costumes were created from leaves, grasses or skins, as camouflage, here the technology of ‘green screen’ is used to reverse the logic of Western landscape painting. Instead of nature being an object over there — the background to the figure — it is the human that disappears so that the landscape, and its movements, come into focus. Sensor technology embedded in a wearable crochet sculpture is the membrane that enables this dissolution of boundaries. The data from the vibrations of chi 氣 become a meditative sound composition tracing this body-environment encounter.
Dominique Baron-Bonarjee’s practice spans different mediums, with liveness occupying a central place in her process and inquiry. Guided by the Eastern spiritual traditions of nonduality, she speculates on an expanded field of the body so as to nurture ecological and ethical relations with nonhuman entities.
She has shown work internationally, in galleries, festivals, biennales and public space, including at the Nakanojo Biennale in Japan, the Isamu Noguchi Room (Keio University) Tokyo, Galerie Wedding in Berlin, the Bangkok Art and Culture Centre (BACC). She recently collaborated with Astrida Neimanis, author of ‘Bodies of Water’, for Lofoten International Arts Festival 2019; she presented her lecture-performance ‘Tales of Fabrication’ at the Tai Kwun Centre in Hong Kong for the ASAP Annual Symposium, and the accompanying film was screened at Tate Exchange, London. Her public space performances have been commissioned by Chisenhale Dance Space, London and Håb / Word of Warning in Manchester.
She is a current doctoral researcher in the Art Department, Goldsmiths University of London.
Generative Messy Edges in the Landscape – Centering Disability Eco-Somatics
moira williams (USA)
Disabled bodies are often erased from the landscape and/or denied access to the landscape. Particularly to access allowing for joy and intimately lived connections to the landscape/place.
Leading with disability methodologies for accessible Eco-Somatics, we will move together with my ancestral Lenapehoking Lands; Sëkeweltëk hàki (black good earth) located in occupied lands along the Great South Bay, NY. We will do this by centering ourselves and bodies in the landscape through sound, language and simple gestures. Next we will work with tunnels as a gesture, metaphor and shape to move us outward from our bodies. Moving outward from our bodies we will work with an organic object: a textured rock, undulating shell, lichen covered branch – any ecological form that stirs your curiosity, joy and/or connection to the land. Our Eco-Somatics with Sëkeweltëk hàki (black good earth), ends with a water ritual – Sëkeweltëk hàki ends/begins with the estuary. Our time together aims for moving with the landscape, all its life forms and the messy edges we all share.
This workshop is for all bodies. Participants will need:
- One organic object: undulating shell, delicate feather, lichen covered branch, crunchy leaf – any ecological form that stirs your curiosity, joy and/or connection to the land.
- One bowl large enough for a hand or foot.
- Same large bowl filled with water.
- A cozy area to sit, stand, lie or gently move.
- A small towel.
moira williams is a disability culture activist, bringing fresh perspectives to contemporary arts through intersectional Disability, Somatic and Ecological Arts. Their co-creative work reframes embodied difference as a distinct resource resisting aesthetic ideals while weaving together accessibility, scales of time, queer ecologies, performance plus gatherings with interdependent ways of leading to imagine, disrupt, celebrate, experience or imagine experiencing disrupted spaces and futures that make room for *“access intimacy,” deepening our ecological meanings and questioning systems of power and influence.
moira’s recent works and supporters: Disability Forward Fund NYC, Flux Factory, Common Field, The Laundromat Project, Denniston Hill, I-Park, Blue Mountain Center, Craig H. Neilsen Foundation Spinal Cord Injury Fellow, Disability DANCE NYC, Santa Fe Arts Institute REVOLUTION Fellow, US Embassy/IZOLYATSIA Kyiv to create a disability centered performance about Nataliya Dmytruk’s 2004 Ukrainian State television sign language protest, disability exhibition/gathering TALK BACK.
* “access intimacy” a form of collective access coined by Mia Mingus
Thoughts on a turning world
Bill Aitchison (China)
10.30pm-11pm GMT 6 December / 6.30am-7am CST 7 December
Baicheng Beach, on the doorstep of the University, is one of the most popular beaches in one of the most popular tourist destinations in China. It is usually crowded and consumed in a very specific way. I want to organize an event where a group of us, university students and members of the public, meet an hour before the dawn and experience the place in silence and without the mediation of our phones. This in itself will be quite a radical and new way to engage with this outstanding site and with one another. At the end of this hour, when the sun rises, I will facilitate a conversation. We’ll start by sharing what we were thinking about during the silent hour, see how these thoughts connect with one another then open it up.
Bill Aitchison is an inter-disciplinary artist based in China and curator of Last Minute Live Art. He has presented his performances, soundworks, photography and videos in galleries, theatres and festivals in Europe, Asia, America, Australia and The Middle East. He holds a practice-based PhD from Goldsmiths College, University of London and is a graduate of Ecole de Mime Corporel. He has published critical, creative and journalistic texts in several countries, made a number of works for radio, regularly mentors creative projects and is a lecturer in the Liberal Education Center of Xiamen University.
Monday 7 December
Landscape & Language in Literature: Zooming in on Peatlands
Bethany Copsey, RE-PEAT (Netherlands)
7 December, 7-8pm GMT / 8-9pm CET
With special guest Robert Macfarlane. In this event we will explore the power of language when describing landscapes, with a focus on the language used to depict and represent peatlands. We will explore ideas such as what we lose in our understanding of the land when we no longer have the words to express it, and how the land is reflected in the origin and use of words. We will also explore the joy and wonder that can be found in language and landscapes, and how different languages can offer unique perspectives and experiences of the landscape.
Although the focus is peatlands, the ideas explored can be applied to other ecosystems and landscapes.
There’s a reading people can choose to do beforehand, but the session will be available for everyone and all insights are welcome!
Bethany Copsey is a recent environmental policy and environmental science graduate and is currently very involved in the collective RE-PEAT. A youth-led group fighting for a paradigm shift in our we view and experience peatlands.
Tuesday 8 December
“The happy chance that gives rise to existence”: senses of place around the fire pit
Fay Stevens & Geert Vermeire (UK/Belgium)
8 December, 7-8pm GMT / 8-9pm CET
In 2020, an international cohort of cross-disciplinary practitioners gathered online to discuss and create a series of locative media (digital maps / locative apps) with Supercluster/CGeomap. From this evolved the fire pit sessions, a digital space to gather inspired by ancient storytelling around goodness and gratitude. Each fire pit gathering has a particular theme and we propose a session inspired by Yi-Fu Tuan on the relationships between landscape, goodness and the topophilia of place. This online gathering is orchestrated by fire keepers, Fay Stevens and Geert Vermeire. who will tend to the flame, supporting the space for the stories to unfold and igniting new collective thoughts and ideas. It will start by the sharing of a simple story of gratitude and goodness; an earth story. This is a key aspect of the proposal, sharing and inhabiting the happy chance of a collective existence held within the goodness of the land.
Fay Stevens is an archaeologist specialising in theoretical landscape archaeology, ethics and phenomenological research methods. She is Adjunct Assistant Professor at University of Notre Dame and a contributing lecturer on the Oxford University MSc in Applied Landscape Archaeology. Aligned with this is her curatorial and artistic work focusing on embodied cartographies, language and senses of place. Her work is a process of excavation, an unravelling of time, memory and substance. She has recently designed a new course ‘London Heritage: Walking the City, Writing the Past’ for University of Notre Dame, London Faculty.
Geert Vermeire is a curator, artist, poet working between Belgium, Greece and Brazil, with a focus on spatial writing, locative sound & performance and social practices. He develops collaborative processes, departing from the ethical involvement of cultural action, together with other creatives and activists comprising ecologists, anthropologists, musicologists, engineers and multimedia artists. Specific interest in his practice goes to walking as a creative instrument, unfolding around human connections, text and space, resulting in works of arts, site-specific interventions, locative media and in creative walks engaging both with the landscape and with those walking through the landscape. Together with Fred Adam he coordinates Supercluster, a digital platform as collaborative meeting grounds for locative media in the XXI century, exploring new forms of creating and learning with locative media in the light of locally-globally issues, our planetary crises and forces of global change, encouraging local and global joined-up-thinking. He manages as well the Milena principle, an interdisciplinary art platform centred around ecology and science, and walk listen create, an online global community for walking creatives of all disciplines. For Oika, a community of scientists, artists, storytellers and cultural creatives dedicated to manifesting ecological intelligence through their work, he is permanent curator of the project Into the Artmosphere.
Wednesday 9 December
Healing landscapes. An encounter between a philosopher of landscape and health professionals
Laura Menatti, Carla Benaglio & Milena Sepúlveda (Spain/Chile)
9 December, 9am-9.45am GMT / 10am-10.45 CET
This presentation is about the power of landscape considered as carrier of well- being, relief and comfort for patients and health professionals during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Landscape theory and environmental psychology have shown the benefits we receive from landscape and the reasons we are attached to it, emotionally and biologically. After a presentation (max. 10 slides) of the frameworks and the evidence which support the impact of landscape on our health and well-being, I propose a recorded interview with Milena Sepulveda, a nurse from the Padre Hurtado Hospital in Santiago (Chile). During the Covid-19 pandemic, Milena and her colleagues helped patients and health professionals to find well-being through the contact with and the direct perception of an ordinary landscape. The presentation will be in English, the interview-testimony will be in Spanish with English subtitles. This presentation demonstrates that even in a tragic moment such as this pandemic, landscape can be a carrier of goodness.
Laura Menatti: I am currently an associate researcher in environmental and landscape philosophy at the Laboratoire PASSAGES of the French CNRS (UMR 5319) of Bordeaux (France).
I collaborate as lecturer with the École Nationale Supérieure d’Architecture et de Paysage of Bordeaux (Bordeaux School of Architecture and Landscape, ENSAP – France), the University of the Basque Country (UPV-EHU) and the Public University of Navarra (UPNA), the University of Desarrollo (Chile).
Milena Sepúlveda, Intensive Care Unit, Hospital Padre Hurtado (Santiago, Chile)
A Virtual Picnic in the Park: Sharing Stories of Green Space and Wellbeing in the Global City
Karen Jones & Laura Watt (UK/Iceland)
9 December, 2-3pm GMT
We invite people to gather in our virtual park to share stories of connection, health, sustainability and goodness in the global city. We start with a short talk from both hosts on the entangled histories of people, parks and health across a diverse global geography, before asking picknickers to talk about their connections to park space.
Bring photos, maps and tales so that we can green the online room! This session is about celebrating the value of urban green space for diverse communities and also highlighting how History can provide us with a useful tool for combining ideas about natural and cultural heritage which are often seen as separate and yet remain fundamentally important to the future health of cities. The aim here is to map a global story of parks and people, landscape and goodness, in the process (we hope) creating a collective collage of thoughts and images. Also, in the age of COVID 19, we are especially motivated to ask what new stories of people and parks have been, and should be, created.
Karen Jones is an environmental historian based at the University of Kent, UK, with an interest in green heritage, park spaces and the connections between landscape, history and conservation. She is currently working on a project funded by the Wellcome Trust on health, history and sustainability in the global park and has been recently appointed to the LRG Board.
Laura Alice Watt is a professor of environmental history and policy at Sonoma State University, in northern California, with a research focus on protected landscapes and restoration efforts. She is also a 2020-21 Fulbright-NSF Arctic Research Scholar, hosted at the University Centre of the Westfjords, to study the landscape history of Iceland’s least-populated municipality, called Árneshreppur. She was recently elected to join the LRG’s Board of Trustees.
Thursday 10 December
Legacy of Yi-Fu Tuan: A Panel Discussion
10 December, 5-6pm GMT
In honour of Yi-Fu Tuan, geographers from around the globe discuss the impact of Tuan’s work and teaching on their own.
Organiser: Theano S. Terkenli, University of the Aegean
- Nicholas Entrikin, Professor of Geography and Vice Provost for International Studies Emeritus, UCLA. Professor of Sociology and Vice President for Internationalization Emeritus, University of Notre Dame (https://geog.ucla.edu/person/j-entrikin)
- Tim Cresswell, Ogilvie Professor of Human Geography, University of Edinburgh (net)
- Theano S. Terkenli, Professor of Cultural Geography, Department of Geography, University of the Aegean, Greece (https://geography.aegean.gr/ppl/index_en.php?content=0&bio=terkenli)
- Paul C. Adams, Paul C. Adams, Professor, Department of Geography and the Environment, Graduate Advisor & Director of Urban Studies, University of Texas at Austin (https://scholar.google.com/citations?user=zO5fz8wAAAAJ&hl=en&oi=ao)
- Karen E. Till, Professor of Cultural Geography, Member of the Royal Irish Academy and Co-Director of the MA in Spatial Justice, Department of Geography, Maynooth University (Ireland) (http://geography.nuim.ie/staff/till-karen). See the brand new book edited by Karen, EarthWritings, published November 2020, launching at the online Dublin Art Book Fair this week.
10 December, 7-8.45pm GMT
Three short films exploring community, identity, place and belonging, followed by live audience Q&A with the filmmakers.
Walking and belonging in landscape
Henna Asikainen (UK)
The video explores some of the ideas behind the piece and my participatory artistic practice which is focussed on engaging refugee and asylum seeker communities. On his 90th birthday it is amazing to be able to look back at the especially luminous and productive lifework that Yi-Fu Tuan has so humbly presented. He was particularly influential on the work for my practice led PhD – now 20 years ago! – and his philosophy has continued to inspire my approach as an artist ever since.
Henna Asikainen: I am socially engaged artist. My principal interests are in questions surrounding landscape & climate justice, migration and the human relationship with nature. Starting some years ago now from an exploration of questions surrounding climate and the human relationship with nature my work has increasingly come to recognise the intersecting of these issues with social justice. My most recent works have been participatory projects created together with migrant and refugee groups. They have been built around communal and social experiences and have involved facilitating access to the rural countryside and so-called ‘heritage landscapes’, which many displaced people, who are primarily housed in cities, rarely have access to. These projects have examined the idea of belonging and the importance of access to nature and outdoor experiences and how a sense of homelessness – of not belonging – is produced through exclusionary cultural practices.
Greatham Creek; a biography of community and landscape
Warren Harrison (UK)
A screening of a recently completed documentary film, The Creek, which explores a lost community that thrived for 80years in self-built cabins and boathouses in the Tees estuary. It celebrates the importance of landscape to a community, through interviews, landscape imagery (contemporary location footage, archive film and photography).
Warren Harrison is currently the Acting Dean of Teesside University Business School. His research since 2016 has focussed upon a now vanished fishing community that existed for around 80 years in the Tees estuary landscape.
Four Stories of the Same Place: Exploring the Shannon Estuary Through Music, Sound and Story
Niamh O’Brien (Ireland)
This audio-visual piece has emerged from sonic experiments into how we can understand and represent place through music, sound and story. The work puts oral history sources, mythological tales and the words of a child exploring the environment, into conversation with one another. I was inspired by Tuan’s reflections on the role of people and language in place-making, and by the ethos of deep mapping, to create this layered and complex representation of this layered and complex place.
Niamh O’Brien is a composer, sound artist, harp player and arts practice researcher at the University of Limerick. She has worked as a musician, radio producer and oral historian. Her current research and artist works explore how the sonic arts can act as powerful and immersive communicative tools for place making and community building.