Bosque Pehuén Residency Program: Multidisciplinary Nature Research Station
2021 | Networks

The Networks cycle, which took place from March 22 to April 25, had four participants: Constanza Monterrubio (biologist), Claudia Müller (visual artist), Emiliano de la Maza (industrial designer and sustainability educator) and Jasmin Märker (visual artist), who carried out research from different perspectives on the cultural memory of food, explorations with ceramics to learn about water cycles and its relationship with the forest’s dead woody debris, biosculptural experiments and the application of knowledge of the forest in the regeneration of empty plots of land.

Within the general theme of “networks”, each of the residents –three of them in Bosque Pehuén and one from Ireland– carried out research from different perspectives and disciplines on water cycles, mycorrhizae and their role in soil regeneration and, under an educational and community-focused approach, the appreciation of the knowledge and flavors of the Araucanía.

The program considered an immersion in nature with excursions led by our Park Ranger, Álvaro Escobar, along the different trails of Bosque Pehuén, as well as instances of exchange between the residents themselves and dialogue sessions with different local actors both virtually and in person. Among these local actors were: Isidora Huici, soil regeneration expert, who also conducted a soil chromatography workshop for the residents; glaciologist Carlos Mendoza, who gave a talk on climatology and geomorphology; members of CONAF (National Forestry Corporation and administrators of the National Parks of Chile), who spoke about the issues revolving around invasive species within conservation areas; cultural agents; and different members of the Foundation’s team.

Regarding the investigations carried out by the residents, Mexican biologist Constanza Monterrubio investigated the wild flavors provided by the forest, seeking to make visible the cultural and nutritional value of foods present in the Araucanía. She documented and collected wild foods and prepared an inventory of edible plants, which will later be complemented by the work she has led from the CIIR (Center for Intercultural and Indigenous Research) together with a network of vegetable gardens from neighboring communities  of Bosque Pehuén. The intention is to create a publication that will offer information from recipes to recommendations for sustainable practices for the foraging of wild edible fruits and plants.

From her workshop in Ireland, due to travel restrictions imposed by the pandemic, German visual artist Jasmin Märker remotely explored the ecosystems present in Bosque Pehuén and the relationships between species, to understand how human activity alters the relationship between species and the way in which conservation strategies remedy the effects of environmental destruction. Throughout the residency’s five weeks, she partook in virtual meetings with local actors and with her co-residents, developed a series of biosculptural explorations based on 3D modeling, agar plates, soil collection and fungal cultures with the aim of creating a new body of work on the connections between the human and the non-human.

Meanwhile, visual artist Claudia Müller deepened her interdisciplinary exploration on water through audiovisual and ceramic works. Focusing specifically on the role of dead woody debris as a regenerator of life in the forest, she developed ceramic molds based on different branches collected throughout the five weeks to create a site-specific artwork exercise. She also explored the effects of light on water through the observation of light phenomena such as rainbows, complementing this observation with visual and sound recordings under water.

Industrial designer and sustainability educator Emiliano de la Maza studied the regeneration of soils in wild places instigated by human intervention and the knowledge that this phenomenon can contribute to urban agricultural practices, in order to connect ancestral knowledge with urban questions. Thus, along with methodical gathering during his walks through the forest, Emiliano expanded his focus of study to the so-called “pioneer species” –among them the pimpernel–, with an interest in understanding what allows them to populate an arid or deforested place, and the lessons at the design level that we can receive from them for empty lots in urban spaces.

We want to thank Carlos Mendoza (FMA conservation advisor), Isidora Huici (expert in soil regeneration), Felipe Ortega (Conaf-Villarrica National Park), Juan Ferrer (Director of the Museo del Hongo), María José Besoaín (LabVa) and Mariana Martínez (Cocina Colaboratorio) for sharing their valuable knowledge. Finally, we’d like to thank Daniela Gaete and the Universidad Católica de Temuco for their collaboration.

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About the residents:

Constanza Monterrubio (Mexico, 1982). A biologist from the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) with a postgraduate degree from the University of Kent, United Kingdom, who has dedicated herself to the study of collective processes for the management of natural assets in community and indigenous conservation areas. As part of her passion for the biological and cultural diversity of Mexico, she worked for several years in Pronatur Sur, Chiapas, supporting voluntary land conservation processes. She is currently doing a post-doctorate at the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile in Villarrica, exploring the aspects of biocultural memory that allow family farming to respond to and resist the processes of homogenization of food systems.

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Claudia Müller (Chile, 1983). Visual artist with a degree in art from the Finis Terrae University and a Master of Arts from the University of Chile. Her work is inspired by the daily observation of how natural forces occur on materialities such as water or air, cyclical movements, and the association with objects of an industrial nature, which she later records through photography, video and installation. Her work has been exhibited both in Chile and abroad, including the following solo shows: “Fuente”, Museo del Hongo, IV Biennial of Medial Arts, 2019; “Vaivén”, CCU Art Room, Santiago de Chile, 2018; “Menguar”, Regional Museum of Punta Arenas, Chile, 2017 and “Nobody can push the river”, Fundación BilbaoArte, Spain. She has participated in various residencies in Chile, Argentina and Spain. For her outstanding work, she has received the following awards and distinctions such as National Fondart (2009, 2010, 2013, 2015); BilbaoArte Foundation scholarship (2015); and CAB Art, Science and Humanities Residence Award (2019); CCU Scholarship Award (2019); Creation award for Finis Terrae University teachers (2016-2018).

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Emiliano de la Maza (Chile, 1982). Industrial designer from the University of Chile and educator in sustainability, he has oriented his work towards the field of regenerative design and socio-environmental innovation in urban and rural settings. He is the founder of the NGO PlantaBanda, dedicated to innovation and education methodologies for sustainability at the territorial and community level, and part of the NGO La Reconquista Peatonal, dedicated to valuing daily experiences to connect community and territory. Recently he participated as a guest collaborator in the XIII Biennial of Arts in Havana for the curatorial project Semilleros, a mediation project on educational gardens carried out in a school in Old Havana.

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Jasmin Märker (Germany, 1991). Visual Artist with a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the Belfast School of Art, Ireland. Her work is characterized by the cross between bio-art, sculptural installations and performance and the collaboration with non-human organisms to explore holistic approaches to sustainability. Her interdisciplinary investigations combine critical theory, food foraging, urban walks, research papers, interviews, art, and scientific experimentation. The resulting works are often alive, growing and decomposing. Since 2016 she has participated in different residencies exploring themes of art and science and exhibited in Ireland, the United Kingdom, Sweden and Portugal.

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