At Azulik Tulum, Mexico, Therme Art Reflects on the Symbiotic Nature of our Built Environment and Aquatic Ecosystems
Ecological threats to the Mexican Caribbean underscore the imperative of ALLIGA and Azulik’s interdisciplinary approach to sustainability, combining the expertise of artists, scientists, architects and urban developers.
Cecilia Bengolea, ‘ALLIGA’ (2019)
Responding to the alarming recrudescence of seaweed in the Mexican Caribbean, ALLIGA at Azulik Tulum is an experiential creative sphere bringing together scientific workshops, site-specific artworks and performances, offering a gateway to the holistic comprehension of sargassum (or algal blooms: A rapid growth of microscopic algae) and prompting audiences to reconsider the delicate equilibrium we are at risk of destroying.
Part of the esteemed contemporary art institution SFER IK at Azulik Tulum, ALLIGA draws on visionary founder and architect Roth (Eduardo Neira)’s design philosophy of integrating sustainable materials and green technologies, coupled with ground-breaking biophilic architecture, creating a polysensory aquatic realm and highlighting the profound symbiosis between humanity and nature.
Sharing Roth’s vision of restoring biodiversity in our built environment, Therme Art Curator Mikolaj Sekutowicz was invited to speak alongside a select group of scientists, creatives, and sustainability experts to illuminate a holistic way forward in addressing sargassum and its associated environmental and evolutionary impacts, one that acknowledges the interconnected nature of architecture, urban lifestyles and ecosystems.
“With more than 68 percent of the world’s population projected to live in urban areas by 2050, we need to move towards a view of sustainability that addresses humanity, cities and our oceans as connected spheres. With growing knowledge of these natural phenomena, the shape of our future cities plays a critical role in the vibrancy, or conversely, the ruin of our natural world,” Mikolaj Sekutowicz explained.
Highlighting the inextricable link between urban development and environmentalism, Sekutowicz spoke about how artists can play a critical role in creating sustainable cities that co-exist in greater harmony with the natural environment, sharing responsibility with urban planners, architects and engineers.
“It has become clear that changing collective behaviour in our cities requires the contribution and insight from vast segments of society, not just government institutions or environmental groups. Artists can bring innovative perspectives on mitigating the world’s most pressing civic crises, leading us to new solutions in public space design and development, beyond the pre-ordained framework of cities as we know them today.”
Over the three-day program, Therme Art listened to first-hand accounts of the damage wrought by this disconnected approach to nature, and our failure to change collective ways of life, modes of production and consumption and food supplies, along with dominant modes of transport.
In the Mexican Caribbean, the algae double their mass every 18 days, threatening eco-systems, smothering corals and seagrasses and causing coastal erosion. Global warming, deforestation and the use of fertilisers are among the factors thought to be driving the growth.
As Sekutowicz explained, “In many ways, humanity is very much like the algae. We are creating our own eco-system, but it has grown so big that it’s harming the natural world. We have to change our behaviour in the cities and find new forms of co-existence, reducing our impact on the environment and improving our communities by reconnecting humanity with nature and spirituality.”
“In adapting our built environment to better co-exist with the natural world, we will be much better equipped to tackle the ongoing challenges of globalisation, global warming, bio-diversity loss and environmental degradation. We cannot bring all the people to the rainforest. But we can bring the rainforest back to our cities.”
In-conversation with Brigitta L. Van Tussenbroek, Institute of Ocean Sciences and Limnology
In-conversation with Mikolaj Sekutowicz; Curator, Therme Art
Cecilia Bengolea, ‘ALLIGA’ (2019)
Local children from Los Amigos de la Esquina
Claudia Paetzold, Roth (Eduardo Neira), Sara Faraj, and Mikolaj Sekutowicz