“Through the pandemic, we learned that our cities are basically monocultures of human life,” said Mikolaj Sekutowicz, curator and co-founder of Therme Art. “This makes them vulnerable, because we cannot live without the other life — the other organisms that created our bodies over 200,000 years of evolution.” Many of us have felt that vulnerability as COVID-19 spread human misery and constraints through urban neighborhoods.
Sekutowicz wants society to move toward “a new culture of wellbeing.” The worlds of art and architecture are adapting and responding to an increased environmental consciousness and, in particular, the interconnectedness of the human, cultural and natural worlds. With this year’s Venice Architecture Biennale theme, How will we live together?, curator-architect Hashim Sarkis has called upon designers to invent a new spatial contract in the context of growing political and economic divides.
Therme Art has supported three projects at this year’s Venice Architecture Biennale. All speak to the question: How can urban design support wellbeing for all?
The first project appears at the British Pavilion in Venice. For this green-themed exhibition, the British Council commissioned The Garden of Privatised Delights, leading architects and designers are encouraged to reimagine public space. Co-curated by Madeleine Kessler and Manijeh Verghese (Unscene Architecture), The Garden of Privatised Delights is inspired by Hieronymus Bosch’s triptych The Garden of Earthly Delights and explores questions of inclusivity, privatization and public space.
Resilient Communities, Mutual Aid proposes an inventive integration of nature within a more sustainable view of urban life. Pnat, the think-tank of designers and plant scientists led by author Stefano Mancuso, founder of the study of plant neurology and close collaborator of Therme Art, ask us to consider the important services plants provide. The visitor enters a space characterized by groups of transparent cases with plants all around. The glass cases that emerge from the landscape of the installation are “Air Factories” — that is botanical purifiers capable of cleaning the air within the Italian Pavilion.
The project at Giardini’s Central Pavilion is designed to connect you viscerally with the loss of biodiversity. Resurrecting the Sublime is an immersive installation merging art and biotechnology. Created by Christina Agapakis, Alexandra Daisy Ginsberg and Sissel Tolaas, the installation uses the fragrances of extinct flowers to encourage audiences to think about the human relationship to nature. Resurrecting the Sublime is presented with the additional support of Gingko Bioworks, IFF Inc and Therme Art.
During the upcoming months, Therme Art presents the Wellbeing Culture Forum, a multidisciplinary program of discussions and workshops in both in-person and hybrid digital formats, from May 22 through November 21, 2021. The forum explores environmental and human wellbeing in detail and includes 112 participants from 46 countries.
Image via Therme Art