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21 January 2020

ANIMALS: Interdependence Between Species

2 Residencies are offered:
June 2020

DEADLINE February 1, 2020

APPLY (no application fees!)


NAHR recognizes that all living organisms depend on each other for survival. This coexistence is at the root of ecological thinking, and holds as paramount the need to fight climate change and save animal species from extinction. NAHR 2020 intends to foster an expanded consciousness of these issues through sensorial and reflective “dialogue.” From this exploration, we believe we can develop a pivotal change in the global approach to Nature, moving away from the hierarchical view that sees humankind as entitled to dominate any other species, and towards a holistic approach where humankind lives in harmony with other species.

Using this emerging framework, Fellows will be encouraged to create artifacts embedded with the transformation from an ego-centric to an eco-centric world view. Projects could focus on the loss of biodiversity, interspecies relations, species vulnerability, conservation efforts, biopolitics, among other topics. Fellows are also encouraged to explore how animals inspire design, architecture, art, music and/or the performing arts.


Climate change and loss of biodiversity are interconnected. However, the former has been getting most of the attention in recent environmental discourse. NAHR 2020 wants to focus on, and find reasons for, why we should prioritize biodiversity. Perhaps it is because we depend on each other!

The visible effects of human impact on climate change, and the mounting loss of biodiversity around the globe, has generated renewed interest in resilient, bio-inclusive solutions to reversing the climate crisis. We think that these solutions should take into account current lifestyles and aspirations, today’s  unprecedented technological advancements, and be informed by historical precedents for interspecies coexistence. Doing so allows our explorations to range in scale from micro to macro biomes. We also give ourselves the opportunity to learn from the past.

Aligned with the objectives of the convention on biodiversity from Rio 1992, which still have not been adequately realized, NAHR 2020 offers an eco-laboratory to Fellows interested in developing strategies to rebalance and redesign the relationships between species.


The Taleggio Valley landscape in the foothills of the Alps in northern Italy, with its dramatic scenery and secluded physical environment, will serve as a rich source of inspiration for ideas, and a fertile ground for bio-inspired projects to flourish.

The Valley’s own biodiversity supports a habitat for hundreds of species, both wild and domesticated, in the waters, soil and air. The landscape shows distinct and varied features at different elevations, from the bottom of ravines to the mountain pastures of the Parco delle Orobie. Micro-animals (microorganisms and microbes) and invertebrates (insects, shellfish, worms, and spiders), fish, reptiles, birds, and mammals can all be readily observed, serving as inspiration for creative inquiry.

Its villages and towns, all in close proximity, offer many opportunities to observe and study the ‘built’ environment of both natural and artificial constructions, and their alteration over the years, as human and non-human strategies of habitation shifted to adapt to ever-changing environmental, economic, and social factors. Bird’s nests, roccoli (hunting towers), spider-webs, burrows, and farms are examples of some of the many features that promise to inspire sympathetic thinking, design responses, and other fabrications during the residency.

We believe human perceptions of the world are enhanced by exploring the mechanisms other species have developed for sensing, mapping, and moving through the same territories as humans. As all senses are engaged in an exploration of the Valley’s living eco-laboratory, one starts to perceive the world differently. The residency ultimately pursues the notion that this shift in perception is the key for creative resilience, the mechanism that allows ecosystems to create a sustainable life through adaptation and cooperation.


NAHR aims to support the development and sharing of bio-inspired projects, ignite conversations, and spark possible future collaborative research. With this in mind, the following are some initiating thoughts for applicants:

1.      Questions on Coexistence:

·       In what ways can we envision a post human-centered world in which all living organisms could coexist? How can we interpret this quote from Giorgio Agamben (4): “…the relations between animals and men will take on a new form, and man himself will be reconciled with his animal nature.’’

·       How does the rise of smart technologies like A.I. fit in to a vision of coexistence?

2.      Questions About Interspecies Boundaries:

·       How do we define boundaries between species that depend on each other? How do we understand these boundaries in historical, cultural and biological contexts?

·       Does the vulnerability of some species translate to vulnerabilities of all species?

3.      Questions About Scale and Perception, or the Senses:

·       How does the size of an organism influence humankind’s perception of its relevance or value?

·       How can we develop our ability to interact with the non-human in non-visual ways, and what are the benefits of this?

·       Can sensing the world like an animal help foster new kinds of relationships between species?

4.      Questions About Making and Building:

·       Can we learn to build in a manner more attuned to the environment by observing burrows, webs, nests, etc.?

·       How do non-human animal buildings and methods of making contribute to their survival, and to their thriving?


NAHR encourages experimental explorations based on globally relevant concepts, theories or methodologies about interspecies coexistence and post-anthropocentric thinking as their fundamental framework. Collaboration across disciplines, with other NAHFellows, is particularly encouraged and supported. These explorations can be done using a variety of media, and will be shared at the conclusion of NAHR in expressive forms including, but not limited to: dance performances, poetry recitations, promenade theatre presentations, art installations, site-specific activations, and other creative products.

Given the immersive, site-specific context for NAHR, when drafting submissions applicants must demonstrate the ways in which their projects will seek to engage with Val Taleggio as a shifting, multi-dimensional space in which local characteristics intersect a global dynamic. Applicants should show how they intend to examine elements and ecosystems within the Val Taleggio, while scaling or linking their subjects to globally relevant concepts.

In accordance with this year’s theme, NAHR encourages applications that propose an inter- or trans-disciplinary approach across a range of creative forms and modes of expression, which might take the form of designs, actions, events, and so forth, in which the use of the ecosystem of the Valley will remain a key element of the proposal. Projects proposing observance of animals in their habitat with all its elements, including both natural and humanly-altered states, are especially encouraged.

Together with the NAHW (Workshop), NAHR (Residency) participants will visit high and low pastures, walk across the mountains, attend dedicated lectures by specialists in the area, and be guided across the surrounding landscapes (natural and built), in order to explore local interconnections and contrast these with those in the neighboring valleys of Brembilla, Brembana, Seriana and Imagna. By offering the opportunity for site-specific investigations, NAHencourages participants to explore interactions and relationships within the Valley’s ecosystems. We seek to offer a fertile environment for a range of cross-disciplinary research and, in return for offering these opportunities, we expect NAHR Fellows to complete culminating presentations (designs, actions, events, so forth) at the conclusion of their time in the Val Taleggio.

(1) (2) https://www.upress.umn.edu/book-division/books/when-species-meet
(3) https://www.un.org/en/events/biodiversityday/convention.shtml
(4) Giorgio Agamben, The Open. Man and Animal, 2004
(5) http://sdg.iisd.org/events/2020-un-biodiversity-conference/?fbclid=IwAR1ktcfr4qFt7GbOBzD3HORhgJ7iQ0wdH02pg4FfMNFDl6a6EpUjx6y0Rug

APPLY (all details at this link)