What potentialities does soil have that helps forge the relationship between human and non-human?
Artist collective Campus Novel conduct a form of on-site performative research of the city of Thessaloniki resulting in a multi-modal archive on soil and the semiotics of co-existence.
Through Campus Novel’s ‘poetic epistemological’ approach, subsoil is conceptualized as a site of democratisation, in which various ‘alterities’ meet and correlate with each other. In this pluralistic hyper-environment, where the sacred/fundamental is reconciled with waste, value systems seem to be refuted. Their research suggests that soil is an environment that contains non-hierarchical coexistence, in which a piece of chewing gum potentially ‘communicates’ with the fragment of an ancient vase, and the remnants of modern urban construction coincides with microorganisms that have been living in the soil for centuries.
What makes something worth retrieving and for what reason? What does free space in the city/soil mean? How do we locate, appropriate, and claim it? How do we physically inscribe ourselves in it and what forms of privacy can it accommodate?
Campus Novel follow a ‘totemic’ exploration, from bottom up, moving from life processes in the underground upwards to the urban environment. The correlations discovered between subjects, communities, and a multitude of human and non-human elements and species, takes the form of an archive that includes idiosyncratic narratives of the city and reflects elements of urban cosmopolitanism as well as the imprint of multiple communities with different identities and histories. The materiality of Campus Novel’s research is presented in the form of a multi-layered installation, that includes the research process itself, as well as specially designed structures, imaginative recordings, kilos of fertile soil, and subterranean finds.
As a site for showcasing micro/macro fundamentals of coexistence, the ‘fluid’ territoriality of Thessaloniki is presented as both a case study as well as a fertile field from which one can ‘extract’ methodologies, new value standards, and re-framings of what it means to belong.
In a city where each person is entitled only 1,6 square meters of free ground, segregations collapse, the local can be interpreted also as planetary; tradition and modernity are homogenized; and each unit acts, inclusively, sometimes as a host, sometimes as an effector and sometimes as a mystic.