Composting Knowledge: The Open Bin 11 March – 16 June 2022 Zürich

COMPOST – The Open Bin (Composting Knowledge)
Collective-driven, process-based performative exhibitionary project

This communal exhibitionary project – a sequential and choreographed series of interlocking events on the topic of “Composting Knowledge” – offers an evolving programming at the OnCurating Project Space (Ausstellungsstrasse 16, Zurich) both on-site and online from 10 March to 17 June 2022 with one and more events taking place every week and weekend (Thu 6pm / Fri 8pm / Sat 7pm) for 14 weeks.


For documenta fifteen (2022), Jakarta-based collective and lead Artistic Directors ruangrupa initiated an international and collaborative network for alternative knowledge production named the “Composting Knowledge” network, (in which institutions and initiatives such as Färgfabriken, GAP Tokyo, ICA Sofia, JJ and Donkey Mill Art Center, Knowbotiqs , Myvillages, YCAR Toronto take part. ruangrupa’s “Composting Knowledge” is an active experiment to imagine alternative terrains for knowledge production and sharing, taking place in collaboration with ruruHaus, the main activity house in Kassel, and a wide range of institutions, initiatives, practices, collectives and individuals around the world. The idea is to envision possible supporting systems for institutions to cooperate and engage in critical ways, by exploring questions and learning  from different perspectives, practices, traditions, and backgrounds – breaking at the same time canonical and privileged knowledge systems.

Following the process-based and communal methodologies proposed by ruangrupa, we will gather our own “Open Bin” and fertilise the soil for composting ideas and proposals at the OnCurating Project Space. Within our “COMPOST – the Open Bin” programme, various activities will come into contact, ideas will be displayed, discussed and digested, a shared process will be activated, and a space of transition will emerge.

As a curatorial group, we understand “Composting” not only as the natural or direct contact transformation process of digestion/fermentation/composting, but also as a cultural and political articulation, as ways of self-sustaining, of reflecting upon epistemologies, and creating new formations of joyful resistance.

The project invites diverse artists and collectives to come together with the aim to explore composting practices (literally and figuratively) and to share moments. Thanks to the modular structure proposed by Zurich-based artist duo Stirnimann-Stojanovic, the various events – social in nature and in all sorts of forms – will consist of screenings, dinners, roundtables, exhibitions, performances, talks, to bebe open and accessible to all in a hybrid format for its whole duration.

Composting is growing. It’s a process which calls for a change in our understanding of the subject of knowledge, an uncontrolled mutation of ingredients, which transcend a cartesian or logical system in the production of experiences, and facts but instead transform every material collected in fertile soil for our community. As the water is part of every living being and primal, juicy engine for the rotting activity, so the compostable transformation is nourished by every idea, intervention, activity and contribution by withdrawing from disciplines and one-sided knowledge and expertise forms. Each person is welcomed to participate as a cultivator, contributing with awareness to a multi-ingredients compostable practice. The material for a florid mixture is brought from friends, are those guests, one-time visitors, students, researchers, from all corners of the globe, each one will be a grower and harvester of an abundant, yet non-definable knowledge pot. For the shared growth of yet unknown knowledgeable terrains we invite you to contribute to this compost pot.”

Giulia Rossini and Tyuki Imamura on behalf of Compost Network collaboration with poet Collier Nogues

“We began by talking about tidal fluctuations between Okinawa, Hong Kong and Singapore, which led us to think about our relationships to our local shorelines. Soon we found ourselves considering larger historical and political questions about access—and losing access—to the sea and land, particularly in the context of our shared affinity for demilitarization in the Pacific. The networked root systems of mangroves, with their embrace of contradictory currents, grounded our collaborative creative process.”

Poet Collier Nogues and artist James Jack have engaged in a series of creative conversations. Collier composed new poems using the interactive storytelling app Twine and the VR web framework A-Frame, exploring networked, tidal, and immersive poetic forms. James created new graphite drawings on paper investigating the rhizomatic structures of mangroves interwoven with text(s) that resist land-centric colonial histories by putting sea spirits, maritime ways of life and ancestral roots back into the center. They shared these works with all DOCUMENT participants, from which brief discussion excerpts have been selected here along with samples of their works in progress.


“Making Kin—Worlds Becoming” Center for Humans and Nature Chicago

Making Kin—Worlds Becoming

What makes you and me an us, and not them? There must be some things deeply shared—and yet something also distinct at the same time. It is a relation defined by its own relativity. How does kinship happen so that they may come to be we?

In her 2015 book Staying with the Trouble: Making Kin in the Chthulucene, feminist cultural theorist Donna Haraway offered a provocative slogan as part of her layered and expansive proposal for kinship: “Make Kin, Not Babies.” Despite the statement’s complications, there is a powerful claim that comes through—that kinship is not a given quality but instead an emergent one. By inverting the conventional logic that prioritizes heredity over other forms of relationship, Haraway’s statement asserts that familial connections are in fact made, not born. Becoming kin is not automatic but rather an extended process of attention, perseverance, and care among humans and non humans.

The artists (and scientists) in this exhibition all express this sense of kin-making in diverse ways. Through their practices, they not only aspire to form new bonds and new intimacies with human and non human others, they are committed to making that endeavor visible beyond themselves through art. Their kin-making is of a double nature—one that actively nurtures novel connections between themselves and the people, lands, snails, goldfish, viruses, aliens, traditions, trees, chickens, and planets that they engage, as well as a making that seeks new connections with the audiences who engage their work. At a time of unprecedented planetary change and threats to biodiversity, re-establishing these connections has never been more critical.  From compassion springs action, and as Buddhist writer Pema Chödrön observes, true compassion emerges in, “realizing our kinship with all beings.”

I see the 24 artists and artworks shared here as kinfolk to the writers and texts found with the book series Kinship: Relations in a World of Belonging, which inspired this exhibition. The themes that make up the five volumes of Kinship—Planet, Place, Partners, Persons, and Practice—are the same ones explored here. The intention is that they inform each other as part of the same conceptual family. One thing that I find so compelling about these artists and their practices is that they speak directly to—and at the same time exceed—those five categories, indeed much as any given written piece within the Kinship series extends beyond its own volume. In expressing a sense of and rather than or, these artworks, poems, and essays offer promiscuous possibilities of emerging relations as well as the wonders, understandings, and complications they entail.  — AY

View the 24 artists and artworks