Project proposal: Sieta van Horck

Bodies of Land

Rituals to connect with land

Bodies of Land is a radical ritual that explores the relationships of inter-being between multispecies bodies and local lands. How do we build living relationships and design practices that reawaken our sense of belonging to the vibrant web of life?

Vergroot

Logo Bodies of Land - ~Bodies of land~ is an ongoing research and experimentation by Sieta van Horck and Rens Spanjaard to embody what it feels like to be entangled with the land.  Photo taken by Rens Spanjaard Sieta van Horck

Project description

Many of the crises of our times emerge from the breakdown of the human-Earth relationship within a dominant, western culture; respect and reciprocity have been replaced by exploitation and extraction, community by consumerism. To navigate through uncertainty and change we need to first of all inhabit a broader understanding of how things got to be ’the way they are’ so we are better equipped to embrace complexity.

Practices that reawaken our sense of belonging to a vibrant web of life are vital to ground and orient us in this context.

We see the urgency for new ways and practices of care that form a bridge to first explore the relationship between human and other-than-human bodies (multispecies and land/soil). Before designing or conceptualizing any spatial, economic, political or societal plans, we first need to acknowledge our human (and other-than-human) bodies and consciously acknowledge our surrounding community of ecology, clearly realizing the effect we have on it. First, we need to become members of the whole again (re:membering). 

These rituals are not in any way a substitute for other, more direct forms of action (to care for the Earth and all its beings). Rather, the rituals prepare us and provide us with a larger context than our narrow ego selves, when we realize we are acting not just from our own opinions of beliefs, but on behalf of a larger Self - The Earth - with the authority of more than four billion years of planet’s evolution behind us, then we are filled with determination, courage and perseverance, less limited by self-doubt, narrow self-interest and discouragement. We take inspiration from the first permaculture principle: observe & interact.

Our aim is to bridge and connect art~ecology~embodiment by creating multispecies community gatherings based upon sensibility and radical ritual. 

“It’s not just land that is broken, but more importantly, our relationship to land.” ― Robin Wall Kimmerer

Previous work & Local sites in need of multispecies relationships

~Bodies of land~ is an ongoing research and experimentation to embody what it feels like to be entangled with the land. We have been writing, designing and performing this ritual at the local degraded lands of Almeria, Spain and in the urban environment of W139 in Amsterdam. 

We realize these ecologies are in need of regeneration and care. Not only on a material level, but regenerating Soil and Soul in order for the paradigm of inter-being to flourish. We both feel pulled and inspired to give voice to the multispecies community and this research and performative actions allow us to further develop these methods of care.

The main question weaving through our research is How to build living relationships of inter-being between multispecies bodies and land?

Plan of Action

Towards a multispecies language of inter-being

There are many ways of evoking such change in our identity. Methods for inspiring the experience of deep ecology range from poetry to prayer, from wilderness vision quests to direct action in defense of the Earth to the ritual work that we are currently exploring.

We are experimenting with various forms of rituals in order to reconnect our bodily senses to local ecologies. Through our ongoing research we are forming and testing the fundamentals of our method, that we use (and finetune) within all gatherings and rituals.

If we wish to reunite with nature, the first requirement is that we have the intention to reestablish this contact. Once we set the intention to end the separation we have created, the desired results come naturally from rituals that feel authentic to us. We can start to reclaim ancient rituals like solstices and equinoxes affirming our connections to the changing cycles of the seasons. And new rituals - enactments of our intentions - open to all of us, regardless of our original traditions. 

These rituals culminate in shedding our human identity and embodying en experiencing other-life forms. In order for the experience to emerge we are developing a method that exist of the following steps:

  1. Slowing down
  2. Becoming silent 
  3. Observation
  4. Interaction

This ongoing research shows us that there is a great urge to develop a new language and vocabulary. One that not only points to and speculates about a new paradigm of inter-being, but also allows us to directly embody this.

We want to explore how to develop such a language of multispecies inclusivity. Not mere speculating, but actually rehearsing and speaking this language in ritual to sensitize and allow these relationships of inter-being to emerge. 

This language can be in the form of written and spoken words (storytelling), but we also want to explore a more bodily/emotional language (out of words, movement).

We want to research this with the community in the form of gatherings and rituals, how such a language of inter-being can be formed. Playing together, tuning in together, creating radical and authentic rituals together to re:member our place within the ecology.

Bodies of Land is about the relationship between environment, ecology, the human body and health/healing. Our research is based on new discoveries in ecology, biology and integrative medicine, which show that the external world (and our dealings with it) is directly reflected in our internal ecology and is intrinsically linked to it. A ritualistic approach to befriending your local ecology makes such a connected vision of the future tangible and experienceable and offers the opportunity to embody this new science.

Possible ways to expand this project

We see multiple ways to expand this work, into various local environments and multispecies communities. This could look like this:

(1) Research & design: Designing new tools and language to allow the paradigm of inter-being to emerge within the direct experience. How do we tune into the rhythms of other life around us?

In previous work we have experimented with various forms of radical rituals and this has led to various practices like: sensitizing, interaction, giving meaning, voicing, systemic constellations, and intuitive unfoldings (please read more on this here). 

We will zoom in on 2-3 of these practices to fine-tune as well as expand on scene-setting. We will also experiment and incorporate storytelling and embodied interactions (touch, movement, placing). We design multispecies community gatherings and rituals based upon our research to be performed in step (2). 

(2) Performative action: Hosting multispecies community gatherings and rituals. Here we explore situational, participatory and sensorial qualities of embodying the paradigm of inter-being. These gatherings form the nurturing soil of our research, where we experiment and gain feedback and insight from the community and participants that collaborate with us. 

(3) Manifesto & text: Through step (2) we gather insight and feedback of the designed tools, language and vocabularies.  Our aim is to compost these, document the developed tools into a manifesto/e-zine forming a ‘book of tools’. Distributing, to allow these practices to be repeated in other groups and other local environments. In light of reciprocity, giving back our insights to the multispecies community to build stronger relationships. This text and manifesto could be applied in educational structures and community based practices on the local level. 

Personal introduction

Our team consists of 2 human beings: Rens Spanjaard, ecologist and herbalist, and Sieta van Horck, multidisciplinary artist. Together, we form the collective Lumen Naturae

As Lumen Naturae our aim is to ground, to connect, to get a sense of place. To broaden our connection and identity to ecology and interactions with all other life forms. We look for setting the stage to be receptive for this connection. 

Our collective work Lumen Naturae: https://lumen-naturae.com/

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Sieta van Horck is a multidisciplinary artist operating at the intersection of ecology, technology, spirituality and embodiment. In her installations, meditation lectures and rituals she combines emerging science with ancient wisdom to explore the shift from the age of newtonian physics to a new paradigm of inter-being. The age of symbiosis between living systems, the human bodymind, and technology.

She uses technology as a language to investigate the subtle layers of living organisms and explore human intuitive embodied knowledge. Technology becomes a tool to provide insight into the natural functioning of living organisms and to create connections between the internal world of experience and the external environment.

To make visible the world beyond the five senses.

Her work is inspired by ecofeminism, radical inclusivity and art activism. Her interactive experiments invite to perceive beyond analytic thinking and allow to directly experience a new realm of being - an interconnected unified field of inter-being where multispecies are constantly communicating and collaborating.

Not mere speculating - but rather rehearsing and embodying the new age that is dawning on this Earth.

Her work aims to create a shift in perception that allows us to shift our relationship to ourselves, others and the earth. 

Find her work here: https://sietamaria.hotglue.me/

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Rens’ mission is to give voice to the natural world and bring back our memory of interconnectedness, the long cultivated relationship to the natural world, assisting others to regain their life rhythms with the power of plants.

Rens Spanjaard is a cook and biologist. After working with many wild plants as a chef, he started to delve into nature. During his tours he combines his knowledge about food and nature. He gives tours of edible plants and food forests.

From an early age Rens was mesmerized by life on earth. But he first followed a cooking course. He returned to his fascination with nature because he wanted to know where his food came from. He learned a lot from organic farmers, such as the importance of soil life. He studied biology & nature management and learned more about the complexity, the vulnerability, but also the resilience of ecosystems. He uses this knowledge for a new way of dealing with nature. He is involved in the development of Food Forest Weerwoud, works together with landscape architect Luc Engelhart and makes his own herbal products.

He is looking forward to talking about all the culinary applications of plants and about the balance in nature. And to pick lunch together at the same time!

find more on his work here: https://floraling.cargo.site/

Estimated costs

Materials costs (approx), ex btw: 1500 euro (fieldtrips, ceremonial materials, herbal offerings/medicine, photographs, video and graphics) Artist fee ex btw: 1600 euro Total ex btw: 3100 euro

This proposal is part of the 'Penny for your Thoughts' project 2022.