The self-directed nature of my research practice can be seen in three areas: studio practice activities (including collection of objects and materials for my investigation); reading scientific research and active learning; participation in international exhibitions and research-oriented programmes.
Studio practice activities
I experienced that both studio practice and outdoor activities were crucial to understanding some unexplored connections in the research I read. For example, I have made a systematic photographic documentation of pollinators – such as honey bees, bumble bees and hoverflies – from the lavender plants in the front garden [link to photo diary]. I have also observed anatomic details of bees and hoverflies from bee fossils included in amber, Victorian microscope slides and old magic lantern glass slides. [Posts n 44; 50; 53]
Reading and active learning
During the Summer break I organised my own weekly session (which I called “Fictional Summer Session on Thursdays”) to expand my understanding of some scientific topics. I found this a useful way to investigate the impact of pesticides on the cognitive system of pollinating insects and combine this with my visual sociology methodology. I started each session with a reading and then alternated between individual and collaborative activities related to the topic of the reading. This was often completed with outdoor observations and weekly sessions of printmaking). [Posts n 49; 51; 52; 54]
For example, the session on 22nd July was joined by Gia and George and it was very inspiring. Gia suggested a short documentary produced by her husband, the journalist Brian Cox “Honeycomb Conjecture” (POST n 52) which gave me the inspiration to start a short investigation into the presence of the hexagonal form in nature and I bought two etchings from the late XIX century representing different shapes taken by snow. The new drypoint is still in progress and the preparation of the plate is very challenging given hundreds of incredibly small details for each of the 82 hexagonal elements.
Over the summer I also attended (online) two of the Shared Campus Summer Schools 2022: “Commoning Curatorial and Artistic Education” in Kassel and “Rivers: Jugular Veins of Empire” in London. My aim was to expand my understanding of the topic of extractivism in the XVIII / XX centuries with international colleagues, artists and researchers. Particularly relevant was the experience of active learning through workshops and other collaborative activities.
Participation in international exhibitions and research-oriented programmes
In June 2022 I contributed to a conference focused on “public space”, which has been the main topic of my research since 2007. PUBLIC! was promoted by Accademia Unidee-Scuola di Arti Visive / Fondazione Pistoletto and I was part of the session “MERCIFICATION AND SOCIAL PRACTICE”.
I was invited to contribute to “DigiFest Annual Research Conference Arts Research Kaleidoscope (ARK) 2022 – ROMANCING THE STONE: Contemplating Evolving Trends and Impermeable Places in Arts and Design” curated by the Durbam University of Technology. For this festival I presented my work Saknussemm, produced in the context of the Shared Campus Summer School 2022 “Rivers: Jugular Veins of Empire”. https://digifest.dut.ac.za/portfolio-item/saknussemm/
Furthermore, I have exhibited the four works of the series “New Observations on the History of Bees” (which was the goal of my Study Statement) in three exhibitions: Woolwich Contemporary Print Fair 2022 at Woolwich Works in London, Press & Play 2022 at Phoenix Art Space in Brighton and in MERCH 2022 at Koppel X, London.
Through my investigations and artistic practice, I seek to support a regenerative and socially responsible economy where natural resources are not overexploited and where communities, not corporations or financiers, are the main beneficiaries of development.
This orientation has influenced and inspired both my readings and my research practice. The three main strands of my research (namely the impact of pesticides on pollinating insects, the ambition to establish a vegetarian cooperative at the beginning of the 20th century at Monte Verita' and Beuys' radical ecology) have led me to a critical view of exploitative human development. In fact,I have found the research about the relationship between the gut bacteria of bees and their health and the resilience of the hive itself to be particularly interesting because reflects Beuys’s intuition of Social Sculpture
I took the decision to produce my own pigments during Term 1 and I have more fully embraced this practice in the work “Ongoing Anatomy of Bee” where pigment-making, drypoint and scientific readings support and influence each other to build a solid understanding of how pesticides enter the body of bees through the tongue and the parts of the brain that are most damaged.
• LO3 Analyse and critically reflect on your practice and its context.(ACEnquiry)
I have investigated how other artists have addressed different aspects related to the theme to bees: honeycomb, social behaviours in the hive and the challenges of chemicals for wild pollinators. I have visited temporary exhibitions and analysed art installations, such as the art installation "The Hive" by Wolfgang Buttress at Kew Gardens and the garden designed for pollinators by an Artificial Intelligence algorithm developed by Alexandra Daisy Ginsberg as part of the exhibition Back to Earth. Furthermore I have also studied the whole body of drawings produced by Beuys dedicated to the "Queen Bee" (largely mentioned on my research paper). My reflection on artistic interpretations is also informed by investigations from scientists and academics.
Furthermore, the research paper explores aims and fails of the ethical commitment of a socially engaged art practice. The two cases involved in the investigation have