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I’m interested in the intersections that exist among certain attitudes within artistic practice (experimentation, learning in public, non-expert practices…) and the imagination of possible exits from the ecological crisis/catastrophe in which we live. In the intersections of initiatives by some artists and others in the new sustainability movements, we find the practice of permaculture as a form that reconstructs ethical and aesthetic paradigms. Reflecting upon permaculture from the point of view of aesthetics allows me to comprehend its power for the transformation of subjectivities, independent of the financialization that lately has worked its way into this practice. Permaculture thinks about the ecosystem, or in an ecosystem, and I place this attitude in a realm of thought opposed to the binaries and dichotomies of modernity. My research is also linked to poststructuralist tradition, and proposes an ecosystemic future as a point of departure for the transformation of our ways of life that until now have been marked by the domination of nature.

I’m interested as well in the politics of seeds in Latin America as a case study for understanding the political stakes that can be associated with the practices of permaculture, a global movement that synthesizes traditional knowledge of indigenous peoples with Western systemic thought. Permaculture seen through the prism of current battles on the part of farmers and indigenous peoples to resist the domination of traditional cultures by global capitalism becomes an entry point for understanding the profound links among ecological catastrophe, Western political and economic domination, and the collapse of traditional knowledge. This amalgam transforms into a way of thinking about the decolonial stakes linked to sustainability practices. In addition, discourse on differences becomes a political discourse about horizontality and the inclusion of ways of being in the world that were hidden and destroyed by the processes of colonization. It’s not about a romantic nostalgia of an indigenous past, but rather a proposition for a culture that allows for the integration of different human experiences, drawing out practices that do not create a hierarchy of knowledge, a knowledge of the world in which the figure of the expert no longer exists, where epistemological dominations are overcome and we set off toward the possibilities of an ecosystemic future.

Might we reconcile with the riches of nature such as they are found in its laws, and the use of matter upon which we depend every day? Can we imagine that matter, everything that includes matter, like another name for nature, will never again be ignored or submitted to a desire for control in order to satisfy a certain number of problems? It would be a point of departure to rethink the strange rupture between nature and culture, transcendence and immanence, through the complexity itself of the objects in the world, and the strange, “blinding closeness” of the matter that makes up all of us. Simply put: matter, not in terms of function, but rather of existence with and in which we act, the communicator of energies and source of metamorphoses.

My research is comprised of the analysis and comprehension of the construction of certain images: microscopic imagery and new technologies that permit the creation of images of objects at different scales. The techniques used for the creation of these images are often very far from classic photography, which captures images via sensitivity to visible light. It is sometimes difficult to distinguish a blended image from a microscope image (atomic force microscope or bubble chamber, for example) and even from some diagrams. I am interested in the passage that is produced from a conventional image that reproduces or prolongs the eye (in other words that captures the light and interprets it) to the use of other physical phenomena for a similar result: a surface of nuances or colors along the length of visible waves, in a frame, testimony to the material existence of an object. The objectives are to understand the implications of the desire to make everything visible in the face of the materiality of the world, of the possibilities to make images from them, to integrate them or to doubt them. Through these images, my research questions the tensions between deep attention to matter and the daily disregard for the use of resources. The attitude is not the same but the notions that are reflected in it are common. However, one must ask if these attitudes are fundamentally different, or if they come from a similar tendency.

The construction of images seems, in the aforementioned efforts, to demand that nature show herself. This stands in opposition to the epistemological crisis in which quantum theory plunged those who tried to interpret it, and which showed the intelligibility of microphysical entities and the impossibility of understanding them through ordinary language and images. At the same time the new images, of atoms for example, constitute a new approach to what might be an image.

The goal would be to transform or open up visual relationships, to initiate a sort of visual ecology. The images of new microscopic technologies are problematic. But they also, I believe, make this technology suitable for the rethinking of attitudes and aptitudes needed to represent the world’s matter.

During her residency at Utopiana, Gwyneth Anderson explored the concept of plant seed cells as not only building blocks of life, but also physical manifestations of time: individual increments that build to a larger whole, much like the pictures that compose an animation. This was prompted by the English homophone of “cell” and “cel” – short for “celluloid”, the clear plastic sheet which is drawn and painted on for the production of hand made animations.

One plant Anderson focused on was the Arabidopsis thaliana, also known as Thale Cress, a tiny mustard green which grows wild on Utopiana’s property. Arabidopsis produces seeds consisting of approximately 5,500 cells each. Thus, Anderson created an animation with 5,500 drawings, serving as a time-based portrait of the Arabidopsis seed.

Depending on who you talk to, Arabidopsis is a weed; a model organism of plant biology; or, among a scant few, an edible mustard green. It’s heavily researched in biology departments around the globe, and by the end of 2015 will be one of the first plants grown on the moon (…within a container). Despite its significant role in science, it has a very low profile. Perhaps because its flowers are small and “plain”, or because it’s not large and stoic like a tree, it does not draw much attention. Even many biologists studying Arabidopsis refer to it as a weed.

By calling a plant a “weed”, one immediately injects notions of good and bad, regardless of whether a plant is beneficial to the land on which it grows, or its nutritional offerings to humans. In fact, Arabidopsis is perfectly edible, making for a tasty salad. But because of the preferences (and lack of awareness, most likely) of many gardeners, and because of its presence in cement cracks and overgrown lots, it’s perceived as being a nuisance. Not beautiful, not beneficial. As with stereotypes among humans, the Arabidopsis’ identity is determined by others’ uninformed perception, not its inherent qualities.

Under the care of a human, the future life of an Arabidopsis seed is full of possibilities, ranging from the glory of touching the moon, to the degradation of being crushed on a sidewalk. Perhaps it is appropriate, then, that Arabidopsis seeds withhold a huge secret from humans, a deep mystery that continues to flummox biologists: dormancy.

Every plant seed experiences dormancy. It is a period of time when a seed is receiving the proper amount of light, water, and warmth for germination, but still does not grow. It is as if the seed is choosing the right moment, the right ray of sunlight, the right cooling breeze, before it sends its rootlet down into the soil. When Anderson began her animation, she worked next to dormant Arabidopsis seeds. The seeds were poised on the surface of nutritious soil, under tents of clear plastic to contain warmth and moisture. Perhaps trepidatious of how they would be received, the seed’s cells waited with heavy anticipation. This anticipation is what’s conveyed, through movement, in each cel of Anderson’s animation.

Cellule will be screened after sunset outdoors, in the presence of the Arabidopsis seedlings.


Gwyneth Anderson (Chicago, USA)

Gwyneth Anderson works mainly with media that play with temporality, studying perception, empathy and the relationship between the subject and the public.

She has shown or projected her work in diverse galleries, festivals and outdoor spaces in the United States and elsewhere, including: the Eyeworks Festival of Experimental Animation, Sullivan Galleries, Woman Made Gallery, Hyde Park Art Center, 6018 NORTH, and Links Hall in Chicago; the Freies Museum of Berlin; and the XL Art Space in Helsinki.

She was artist in residence at Experimental Sound Studio (Chicago), Harold Arts (Ohio), and at the Arteles Creative Center (Finland).

A new group organized by the collective PLANTOPIC, for people who make bread or who would like to learn.

The meet-ups will take place every 2nd and 4th Wednesday of the month, with workshops, presentations, discussions, baking, tastings and more. Whether you’re an “expert” baker or you’ve never made bread in your life, who cares? Everyone’s welcome, so come join us! Bring your love of learning and an edible or drinkable to share around the kitchen table.

We have the pleasure of inviting you to share in experimental moments around a fire the 25th and 31st of October and the 5th of November, 2014, with our current resident Xin Cheng. Saturday 25 October, 2-5 p.m. Collection of earth to make pottery and other objects // Fabric dying with autumn leaves and cooking around the fire // Collection of ashes. Friday 31 October, 4-8 p.m. Pottery firing // Preparation of ashes // Fabric dying and cooking. Wednesday 5 November, starting at 5 p.m. Pottery firing // Making soft soap with prepared ashes from the fire // Cooking.

Dear friends of Utopiana,
I’ve now spent more than a month in Geneva. I walked everywhere, observed, listened, explored, touched, collected: balconies invaded by plants, the imprints of leaves on sidewalks, the changing flow of the river. With Maria Adelaida and Lucas, we made ash trays with earth from the garden and “fired” them in the barbecue; we recuperated the ashes of the fire to make soap. I also tried to dye fabric with autumn leaves. It worked! I’m on the look-out to discover more. Language has been problematic — I should have learned French. But no matter, it has been extremely captivating to observe how “language acts as a frequency, through which something different is transmitted.” David Abram says “it’s as though the intention of making sense with our words is transported on the surface of an improvised exchange that is deployed between our two animal bodies.” In fact, I began learning improvised contact, where we listen to the language of our bodies and we move intuitively. This is related to the origin of languages: “Long ago, communication was founded on miming, demanding the participation of the whole body, rather than only the hands and arms, and lives on in modern dance and ‘body language.'” This could seem absurd: I came to Geneva from the other side of the globe to work on primitive technologies and means of communication. “How will you find that which is completely unknown?” Yesterday I went to a conference on technology. It’s like this, in this alienated world of modern technology and a growing consciousness of our relationship to Earth, something is literally left to be discovered by returning to the most primitive forms of conviviality: to go for walks together, after a day of hunting and gathering in the modern world. Would you like to join me and share a different moment? And discover things that are completely unknown to us?
Xin Cheng (New Zealand)
Born in China and living in Auckland, New Zealand, Xin Cheng studied ecology and psychology before making the decision to work as an artist. Her volunteer work in environmental conservation and her experience as a traveler over the years cultivated her wide interests in the use of plants, gardening, cooking, folk art, tool making, vernacular constructions, “making do,” and, in general, different forms of living and being in the world.
DSC02979 Utopiana thanks the Arts Council New Zealand Toi Aotearoa.
Utopiana is supported by the City and the Canton of Geneva, and by its members.

Saturday 16 August 2014, 7 p.m. at Utopiana

In the past two months we have been cultivating 44 fruit spirits in the garden of Utopiana. However, it takes only one to set in motion the Table. You are cordially invited to join us for the Unfailing Table at its birth place – the Utopiana Garden. To arrive at the table we climb down the chain of being and follow the fruit’s destiny. It will serve as a supplement in the days after and as a catalyst for toasting in the days before.

To the restoration of our personal paradise!

Take a seat and engage in new fantasies about the time after the futuristic outset. What can such a fantasy be like? Bearing in mind that realizations in fantasy are a generic form of a desire outside us, an impotent mode of wishful thinking and a loss of the principles of reality and the reality principle; we ask: What happens when there is no “other”? No world to relate to, just an eternal banquet at the Unfailing Table which is not likely to end? What then can we toast to?

Let us convene in the days after and try for a toast to unsettle our social ecology.

No special skills needed.

utopiana crest


Saturday 19 July 2014 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

At Utopiana

Summer is here and nature is offering up its colors, scents, essence, and invisible energetic forces — silent, but nevertheless very real!

From the floral experimentation offered to us by Utopiana’s garden, via the research group Plantopic and the creative spirit of its collaborators, we will together be able to celebrate the nature that has grown since its initial planting, and use that which she offers to us in a workshop on the preparation of homemade mother tinctures and balms.

Together we will discover how to choose a plant or plants, why we harvest under the sun rather than shadow, how to dialogue with the plants and become conscious of the interest we have for them.

For this you will need note taking material, a pair of scissors, and if possible please bring small glass jars (from jams, etc) to use.

We will distribute a printed explanation of the different procedures of transformation that we will carry out together, transformations that you may then create in your own home to produce small daily necessities as well as tons of easy recipes you can make thanks to the help of the environment that surrounds us.

Please also bring a plate to share for a potluck lunch!

Sign-up fee: 70.-

Contact and sign-up via e-mail: or

See you soon!


Anthony Barraco

Through workshops on medicinal and wild plants, and thanks to my studies in energy healing and autodidact learning of sacred geometry, I have been able to draw together these varied domains and direct them toward human needs. From one experience to another, I have become, one could say, specialized in the sharing of my ideas via the creation of energetic gardens placed in various locations. 

Friday 4 April 2014 at 7 p.m.


Slide-show followed by a discussion with the director DIDIER DEMORCY

Interlaced stories … between theories of evolution, animism, colonialism and “worlds beyond human beings”.
Whether it is a question of beings “that swim languidly in waters” and others “who crawl or slide on their bellies,” of the fossils of Burgess shale and of Pikaia gracilens – common ancestor of all vertebrates; of the theory of degeneration; of relationships between the savanna and forests of Amazonia, of witchhunts and the privitization of common land at the end of the Middle Ages; of literacy of the world and of the senses; of drunkenness and the beauty of Aphrodite; of laughing laboratory rats and financial speculation; of the Umwelt of the tick, crickets and crows, of multiple identities of goldfish and birch trees; of forms and their growth; the games of young mammals….

Didier Demorcy

(born 1965 in Verviers, Belgium)
Documentary filmmaker, interested in nonacademic knowledge, in animal worlds, in perception….
Works with different media: video, radio, web sites and installations….
He participated in the exhibitions “Laboratorium” (Antwerpen Open and Roomade – Antwerp 1999) ; “Making Things Public” (ZKM – Karlsruhe, 2005) ; “Animism” (Extra City, M HKA Antwerp, Kunsthalle Bern, Fondation Generali Vienne, HWK Berlin and Free University Berlin – Antwerp/Vienna/Bern/Berlin, 2010-2012.
He participated as well in the creation of different collectives of “activist researchers”: Espace documentaire de la rue Van Aa, Bru-SEL, Atelier de Philo,
For about twelve years, he has been undertaking apprenticeships in different agricultural practices: shepherding, fruit tree cultivation and forestry, vegetable cultivation, large-scale cultivation, and processing of harvested goods (meats, wool, juice, cider, conserves, flour and bread). In this context, he also put into place six years ago an autonomous collective of growers on the outskirts of Brussels.

Thursday 27 March 2014 at 7 p.m.


Documentary film projection, followed by a discussion with the filmmaker Mélanie Pitteloud

13 min., 2010, INIS (Institut National de l’Image et du Son, Montreal).

Act rather than demand: in Montreal, three guerrilla gardeners reappropriate their city through acts of civil disobedience, cultivating public spaces in order to green the concrete, preserve urban biodiversity, and reinvent the face of their neighborhoods.


Swiss filmmaker, born in 1979. With a degree in political science (Université de Lausanne, McGill University/Canada), her attraction to anthropology brought her finally to documentary cinema. She realized her first films as an autodidact before taking a professional workshop in documentary film making in Canada (Institut National de l’Image et du Son de Montréal). Parallel to her own films, she was assistant to and co-scriptwriter with Jacqueline Veuve (Vibrato, 2012).

Saturday 12 April and 29 May 2014, starting at 9 a.m.


Workshop on aromatic and medicinal plants led by Anthony Barraco

In this workshop we will plant and transplant aromatic and medicinal plants (perennials, biannuals, and annuals), and create a microsystem that will house these new plants, as well as lizards, bees, and other beings.

Aromatic plants are an ensemble of plants used for cooking and phytotherapy for the particles they emit and the essential oils that we can extract from them. They are used essentially to heal us, but can also be used to make balms and creams, be transformed into a mother tincture, and be consumed in an infusion or simply raw in a salad to satisfy our taste buds.

These plants are for the most part of three botanical families: Apiaceae, Allioideae and Lamiaceae. Perennial, annual, or biannual, their care varies and calls for knowledge that is acquired through practice and the consciousness of the utility of these human companions.


Anthony Barraco

Manually, through cellular memory or keen curiosity, I have experienced and gone deep into different trades (woodworking, plumbing, heavy technician, seriography on cloth and paper, the construction of vineyards in Australia, construction work, etc) and finally went down the path of tattoo art. I began drawing at a very young age, and thanks to tattoo art I could retrace the history of humanity through esoteric and mystical symbolism. Through this I experimented with the intimate relationship to the other, in positioning myself as mediator between a human and the complexity of his or her existence. This brought me happiness but also sadness. From there was born a learning of patience and perseverance in the idea of living together, and, above all, a form of satisfaction of the useful being, the living being, the actor in the wheel of time and space.  

Following this, naturally, came the research and understanding of the self, personal development through healing, as much physically as energetically and emotionally. Little by little I left tattoo art to devote myself to the art of self, of living, the art of the human being. In seizing the opportunity to live in an eco-community, I could push my limits right up to voluntary sobriety. This practice, a bit drastic at times and full of sense once we embrace it, permitted me to listen to my body, to each of my cells, to observe the rhythm of nature in known and unknown landscapes, and to understand that we are above all nature herself. 

By pursuing education in medicinal and wild plants, and through auto didactic studies in sacred geometry, and taking courses in energy healing, I could piece together all these domains in relation to human beings. From experience to experience, I became specialized in the sharing of my ideas through the creation of energetic gardens at various sites. 

I believe in energy as the source of all things.

Lucrèce, de l’altérité ou la mort immortelle
Editions Clinamen, Geneva

A book by Philippe Sergeant

Book launch Friday 2 May 2014, 6:30 p.m. 
Rue Etienne-Dumont 12, Geneva (Old town)
With a performance by Maria Adelaida Samper

Day of reflection with the author: Saturday 3 May 2014, 1 p.m.
Utopiana, avenue des Eidguenots 21, Geneva
with a picnic in the garden

How to think of alterity? The presumption is that, in itself, alterity does not exist. If it existed, it would not be an alterity, but an identity, the result being that when it is actualized, it is destroyed in historic catastrophy.

Philippe Sergeant attempts to bring about a response, and we will see that art works have their role to play. In the work of Lucretius, letters, words, and atoms associate with one another in infinite configurations. They also transform, push away, and associate with each other once again. Such is the correlation with poetry, with the poetics of the world and nature. And the possible organizations are those which constitute alterity, the becomingness of all things, even through death.


Philippe Sergeant (1953) teaches philosophy and aesthetics at the Ecole Superieure de l’Image in Angoulême. Philosopher and poet, he is the author of numerous essays on art and philosophy. He collaborates regularly with artists, without whom he believes life would be without sense, convinced that philosophy is not without a poetic horizon and that poetry is not without its philosophic becoming.