The Wellbeing Culture Forum is a series of online and offline discussions devised in response to the ongoing pandemic and the ensuing global crisis. Gathering experts from diverse fields, the series fosters the necessary collaboration and knowledge transfer to realise a vision of the city and its cultural activity in symbiosis with the natural world, generating a holistic approach toward the health of humanity.
The Wellbeing Culture Forum conversations are designed to create ‘insights for action’ that will become part of the ‘Wellbeing City Manifesto’. This will be made freely available worldwide, for individuals and organisations to implement and influence positive cultural change.
POSSIBLE FUTURES PROGRAMME ON OCCASION OF THE WORLD ECONOMIC FORUM ANNUAL MEETING 2023
Therme Group and Impact One presented an iteration of the Possible Futures programme on occasion of the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting 2023 in Davos, Switzerland. The four-day programme featured multiple high-level discussions, adopting a holistic and multi-industrial perspective to examine how scalable and integrative nature-based solutions can be applied across fields to establish new scenarios of possible futures on our planet.
The Possible Futures programme at Davos, which expanded on the partners’ extensive programming for COP27, focused on environmental rights, collective responsibility, and nature-integrated infrastructures, explored ways to redesign the anthropogenic impact on ecosystems through existing evidence-based and scalable solutions. Learn more here
Possible Energy was initiated by film director Oliver Stone and award-winning scholar of international relations Prof. Joshua Goldstein, who recently premiered the Nuclear Now! documentary, in conversation with Roksana Ciurysek-Gedir, Chairwoman of Impact One and executive producer of the film, and HSBC Chief Sustainability Officer Celine Herweijer, to examine how uncorroborated ideological stances against the use of nuclear energy in our cities are preventing the mitigation of climate change and energy poverty.
Possible Cities took the Nuclear Now! documentary as a point of departure and invited panellists to examine shortcomings in our fight against climate change. It then proceeded to discuss the wider implementation and scaling of solutions that can be developed only through interdisciplinary dialogue between urban development, infrastructure, science, energy, finance and service industries within our cities.
CULTURE AT THE CORE
Culture at the Core discussed the cultural paradigm shift needed to welcome a new era of cultural production that cultivates natural intelligence into infrastructure, technology and community. New media artist Refik Anadol opened the panel with a keynote, followed by a conversation ushering in a forward-thinking, transdisciplinary approach to global cultural production, in which human genius and culture is guided by the intelligence and wisdom of the natural world, rather than isolated from it.
POSSIBLE FUTURES PROGRAMME AT COP27
Therme Art, Impact One, Therme Group and the One Health Research Centre (OHRC) joined forces to present the Possible Futures programme during the COP27 UN Climate Change Conference in Sharm El-Sheikh in 2022. The events were hosted in collaboration with Impact One and Therme Art’s partner networks, featuring a series of participatory activations, performances and panels, inviting key figures in urban development, architecture and environmentalist industries to engage with the themes of Indigenous and environmental rights, collective responsibility and integrative futures. Learn more here.
FOREST ONE EVENT
On 9 November, in partnership with Future of Cities, Amazon Watch, The New York Times and EXTREME, Impact One and Therme Art invited Indigenous representatives from Amazonic communities, urban development leaders and industry innovators to participate at its Forest One event. The evening focused on exploring symbiotic modes of living, presenting new outlooks to urban development and infrastructure for the protection of planetary health and wellbeing.
THE AMAZON’S MARATHON REPORT PRESENTATION
AYA Earth Partners unveiled their pioneering report as part of Impact One and Therme Art’s Forest One programme, titled The Amazon’s Marathon: Race to Zero and to Resilience. With contributions from leading scientists and activists, the report provides an analysis of Brasil and the Amazon, mapping the potential of the region to become the first major economy to achieve net zero carbon emissions while boosting economic growth.
LIVING FOREST: KICHWA PEOPLE OF SARAYAKU, AMAZON BASIN ECUADOR KEYNOTE
Indigenous activist and climate advocate from the Kichwa People of Sarayaku, Nina Gualinga presented Living Forest: Kichwa People of Sarayaku, Amazon Basin Ecuador. She discussed how Indigenous lands are consistently exploited, leading to the destruction of the environment and communities in the Amazon.
INDIGENOUS YOUTH: COLLECTIVE ACTIONS FOR OUR FUTURE PANEL DISCUSSION
The Indigenous Youth: Collective Actions For Our Future panel, curated and moderated by Nina Gualinga, invited youth leaders from Indigenous communities in Amazonic regions to share their experiences as individuals on the front lines and collectively, as a generation inheriting the cost of extractive industry dependence and ideological polarisation in the face of destruction.
STEFANO BOERI ARCHITETTI’S GREEN OBSESSION: TREES TOWARDS CITIES, HUMANS TOWARDS FORESTS EVENT
Held in the Blue Zone of the Italian Pavilion, Stefano Boeri Architetti’s event Green Obsession: Trees Towards Cities, Humans Towards Forests on November 7, provided an ideal platform for Impact One, Therme Art and Therme Group to present their Dubai wellbeing city concept, currently in development with Stefano Boeri Architetti. The “Green Obsession” event centred on discussions around integrative urban planning, sustainable city living and biodiversity.
ANCESTRAL WISDOMS AND POSSIBLE FUTURES
The Ancestral Wisdom and Possible Futures event, held on November 11 at Hope House in Sharm El Sheikh’s Four Seasons Resort, invited a remarkable group of leaders to examine, share and reflect on alternative modes of knowledge production, pedagogy, language and activism.
ANCESTRAL KNOWLEDGE: THE FUNDAMENTAL OF CONTEMPORARY EDUCATION
Isku Kua and Nina Gualinga discussed the importance of language in retaining culture, heritage and identity, as well as prioritising schools and education programmes for indigenous children, that allows them to retain their specific forms of ancestral understanding.
INDIGENOUS WOMEN ON THE FRONTLINES ON HOW TO BE A GOOD ALLY PANEL DISCUSSION
Patricia Gualinga, Celia Xakriabá, Sônia Guajajara, Gloria Ushigua and Casey Camp-Horinek came together to discuss the crucial role Indigenous women have played in political and environmentalist movements both historically and in the present day, highlighting the essential work that each of the panellists are engaged in, actively fighting to protect their communities, their territories and the planet, in the view of exploitative industries and climate change.
TOWARDS A CULTURE OF MENTAL HEALTH AT AURORA DIALOGUES 2022
MYND and Therme Art’s Wellbeing Culture Forum talk, Towards a Culture of Mental Wellbeing explored how the social, political and economical bones that build our current cultural framework need to be reimagined in order to serve collective wellness and vitality. Bringing together interdisciplinary cultural creatives such as artists, scientists and entrepreneurs, the panel discussed mental health as a complex and holistic global public good that requires action and intervention beyond the health sector, including the roles that experiential art and community play in these processes. Learn more here.
INVISIBLE SYMPHONIES: HEALING THROUGH PARTICIPATORY ART AND HUMAN-CENTRED TECHNOLOGIES AT DESIGN MIAMI/ BASEL 2022
On June 16, in collaboration with Superblue and MYND, and on the occasion of Rafael Lozano-Hemmer’s installation Pulse Topology, Therme Art hosted a Wellbeing Culture Forum talk title Invisible Symphonies that drew inspiration from Lozano-Hemmer’s installation as the latter created a platform to exhibit people’s most symbolic biorhythm: their heartbeat. What happens when our pulse becomes tangible through art? Gathering artists from a diverse set of visual practices, the discussion explored the spatial strategies that can be utilised within art, architecture, and technology to support mental and physical wellbeing. Learn more here.
THE IMPACT OF SOCIAL PRACTICE AT LA BIENNALE DI VENEZIA 2022
On occasion of Sonia Boyce’s installation, Feeling Her Way opening at the British Pavilion during La Biennale di Venezia 2022, Therme Art hosted an iteration of its Wellbeing Culture Forum in partnership with the British Council, with essential contribution from the Serpentine.
Moderated by Hans Ulrich Obrist and Monilola Ilupeju, the talk invited Sonia Boyce, Precious Okomoyon and Emma Ridgway to discuss themes explore in Boyce’s multi-media installation, Feeling Her Way at the British Pavilion. The Impact of Social Practice opened up a space to meditate on the reverberations of social practice within the art context and beyond, highlighting the importance of mutability and collaboration as we resist an increasingly fractured world. Learn more here.
WELLBEING CULTURE SYMPOSIUM | HILDEGARD VON BINGEN
Therme Art joined forces with the One Health Research Centre, Serpentine and IKEM to present the Wellbeing Culture Symposium on Hildegard von Bingen in Meisenheim, Germany. The symposium was co-curated by Hans Ulrich Obrist and Mikolaj Sekutowicz, and hosted by Christian Held, to encompass three days of engaging, multidisciplinary keynotes and roundtable discussions inspired by the legacy of the twelfth-century Benedictine Abbess, Hildegard von Bingen, whose approach to life is still considered remarkably integrative and progressive. Learn more here.
METAPHYSICS, THEOLOGY AND BIOLOGY
As the Hildegard von Bingen Wellbeing Culture Symposium’s opening keynote, Kennedy Yanko introduced participants to her intrinsic practice as an artist and sculptor.
MATERIAL HISTORIES: A PRELUDE TO MAKING GROUND
Architect Sumayya Vally shared a meal with guests at the Hildegard von Bingen Symposium, posing it in the form of a living, ever-changing and dynamic archive.
On the evening of Friday, April 1, artist Tino Sehgal held a talk, after which he was joined by Kennedy Yanko, Es Devlin, Jeanne de Kroon and Sumayya Vally in a roundtable discussion.
MICROCOSMS AND THE MESOCOSM ON GAIA
The second day of our Hildegard von Bingen Wellbeing Culture Symposium opened with keynotes by social entrepreneur Jeanne de Kroon, artist Jakob Kudsk Steensen and art advisor and curator Claudia Paetzold.
SOCIAL EMPATHY AND THE NATURAL WORLD
The afternoon symposium session was initiated with a call for the global community to acknowledge and address climate change through keynotes by Patricia Espinosa and Hoda El Shawadfy.
VIRIDITAS AND ARIDITAS
The multidisciplinary approach to tackling issues of climate change at the roundtable discussion presented opportunities for collaboration.
Saturday’s closing roundtable brought together artists and UNFCCC Executive Secretary Patricia Espinosa to explore the small and large-scale modes through which healing can take place.
HOLISTIC CULTURAL FRAMEWORKS
In conversation with artist and designer Es Devlin, and art historian Dorothea von Hantelmann.
CALL FOR SYMBIOTIC FUTURES
Architect Tatiana Bilbao expounded on the collective need to rethink the fundamental form, purpose, and application of architecture as a form of care, rather than that of colonisation and discrimination.
COMMUNION AT THE 20TH SERPENTINE PAVILION
IN CONVERSATION The 2021 Serpentine Pavilion
Moderated by journalist Yomi Adegoke, the talk brought together Counterspace Co-Founder and architect of the 20th Serpentine Pavilion Sumayya Vally, Serpentine Galleries Artistic Director Hans Ulrich Obrist, and artist Torkwase Dyson in a discussion that illuminated the influences and creative processes behind the design of the 2021 Serpentine Pavilion and its related sound piece by Dyson. The talk also provided space to meditate on what is possible when architecture is utilised to amplify the presence of multiplicity and migration in London and beyond. Learn more here.
COMMUNITY AND BELONGING Through the Lens of Creative Practice
The second talk featured musician and rapper ENNY and fashion designer Priya Ahluwalia alongside Sumayya Vally and Torkwase Dyson, who shared stories from past and present histories, addressing subjects that ranged from diaspora, migration, and intergenerationally, to gentrification and identity, and that inform each of the artists’ work. Learn more here.
The talk took inspiration from Dutch artist duo DRIFT’S Shy Synchrony installation at Design Miami/ Basel 2021, which was situated within Forest of Space, an elliptical site-specific pavilion designed by Japanese architect Sou Fujimoto. Panelists and audience gathered inside the installation to explore the fundamental re-contouring needed at the levels of policy, design, community engagement, environmentalism, and urban planning in the construction of environments that heal rather than constrain. Learn more here.
WELLBEING CULTURE FORUM x BIENNALE ARCHITETTURA 2021:
FROM NON-EXTRACTIVE TO REGENERATIVE ARCHITECTURES Growing a Symbiotic City
Our talk From Non-Extractive to Generative Architectures: Growing a Symbiotic City proposed a type of architecture that doesn’t just stop at neutrality or non-extractivism, but that also cultivates biodiversity and an abundance of natural resources. Bringing together experts from the fields of architecture, activism, art and design, and science, and in conversation with the design studio Space Caviar, the talk explored the possibilities of such regenerative architectures in urban planning and future policy reform. Learn more here.
EXPERIMENTS IN NEW SPATIAL CONTRACTS The Garden of Privatised Delights
In the British Pavilion, the exhibition The Garden of Privatised Delights considers privatisation, access and ownership, inviting architects, designers and researchers to propose new models for public space. Responding to the themes arising from the exhibition, as well as La Biennale more broadly, Experiments in New Spatial Contracts: The Garden of Privatised Delights explored the importance of creativity and collaboration in place-making, while also considering the role of technology in creating new publics in the wake of Covid-19. Learn more here.
RESURRECTING THE SUBLIME The Smell of Gaia’s Molecules
Collectively authored by Alexandra Daisy Ginsberg, Christina Agapakis and Sissel Tolaas, Resurrecting the Sublime is an immersive installation that fuses pioneering science and creative thinking to revive the smells of flowers lost due to human activity. Exhibited in the Giardini, the work is a compelling addition to the 2021 year’s Biennale, prompting audiences to think about life, extinction and the scale of human impact within the Anthropocene. Responding to the artwork, Resurrecting the Sublime: The Smell of Gaia’s Molecules set out to examine these themes in greater detail and to sketch the outline of a new multidisciplinary culture founded on human and environmental wellbeing. Learn more here.
MUTUAL AID The Politics of Gaia
Presented within the exhibition Resilient Communities, in the Italian Pavilion, Mutual Aid is an innovative installation created by Pnat, the Florence-based think- tank of scientists, architects and designers led by Stefano Mancuso. Highlighting the cooperation intrinsic to plant and animal life, the work stresses the urgent need for a more symbiotic relation to the natural world. Inspired by the multidisciplinary work of Pnat, as well as the writings of anarchist thinker Peter Kropotkin, Mutual Aid: The Politics of Gaia invites scientists, designers and architects to consider the social and political lessons of plants and animals, as well as putting forward practical solutions to foster greater reciprocity with natural life. Learn more here.
EXPERIENCING TO RECONNECT The Transformative Potential of Art, 14 April
The Wellbeing Culture Forum returns for a new season with a very special panel discussion presented in collaboration with Serpentine Galleries, featuring: Hans Ulrich Obrist, Artistic Director, Serpentine Galleries (Moderator); Es Devlin, artist and designer; Torkwase Dyson, artist; Tino Sehgal, artist; and Mikolaj Sekutowicz, CEO and Curator, Therme Art (Host). “Experiencing to Reconnect” explores the power of art to forge community through shared experience, helping us navigate this crisis and the next. While working in different media and registers, the artists in conversation explore questions of experience and shared space, creating new points of connection to foster a renewed awareness of our symbiotic relationship to each other and our natural world. Learn more here.
WELLBEING CULTURE FORUM x MESSE IN ST AGNES:
BREAKING BAUHAUS Renewing its Principles 100 Years Later, 11 September
The Bauhaus movement revolutionised our cities and lifestyles 100 years ago out of an artistic impulse. Today, under the sign of the mono-cultivation of our planet, climate change, and viral pandemics, we ask ourselves, what could it mean to renew the humanist Bauhaus idea with local and ecological differences and desires, reigniting it anew. Watch the livestream and learn more here.
GROWING GAIA I & II Transforming a Hypothesis into Action, 11 September
The Gaia Hypothesis, proposed by Lynn Margulis and James Lovelock in the 1970s, has become particularly relevant in light of the current crises. It is undeniably clear that today we must reposition ourselves within the totality of nature. How can artists, architects, scientists, and designers bring this theory to consciousness and translate it into action? Watch the livestream and learn more here.
CREATING IN CRISIS Systems of Creativity and Improvisation, 12 September
The COVID-19 pandemic has unsettled our institutionalised methods of art production and its reception. We must now learn to create in the void of uncertainty. How can we learn from improvisation, both as well as an artistic and architectural methodology? We must now learn to create in the void of uncertainty but crises have always been a strong catalyst for creativity. How can we learn from improvisation? Watch the live stream and learn more here
ART AS HEALING Transforming Interior and Exterior Life, 12 September
Art can inspire, but it can also help us cope with the conflicts and confusions of daily life and locate spaces of community in dislocation. How can the therapeutic qualities of art serve as a catalyst for progress, in both urban and natural landscapes? How can art design spaces for spirituality, meaning and contemplation? Watch the livestream and learn more here.
LIQUID EXPERIENCES Immersive Experiences in Art, Nature and Cities, 12 September
Today, more and more contemporary artists are extending their canvas into physical, social and mental spaces, thus creating alternative spaces, instead of ones defined by history, religion and politics. The recently launched Superblue initiative unites artists using this approach worldwide. How can we expand this artistic impulse to create holistic urban spaces that enhance our mental and physical wellbeing? How could an experience economy promote sustainable and ecological living Watch the livestream and learn more here
CRITICAL CULTURE Artistic Strategies in Reshaping Reality, 13 September
Among the acute crises, the fragility of our entire culture is revealed. Cultural players in particular are called upon today to apply their practices of transformation, adaptation and manifestation developed in the art space to social realities, to sculpt the future. The talk reflected self-critically on new responsibilities. Watch the livestream and learn more here.
BERLIN, WHERE ARE WE NOW? A City as an Artistic Laboratory, 13 September
Since the fall of the wall, Berlin has been an epicentre for artistic and architectural experiments, attracting artists from all over the world. Recently, however, the international press spoke about “Berlin fatigue”. Within the current zeitgeist, how can we take up, control and revive what was created in Berlin by a historical coincidence? What new ideas and forms emerged in the last half year that can be the driving force for innovation in the years to come? Watch the livestream and learn more here.
HUMAN CITIES Fostering a Systems-Approach to Urban Life, 2 September
Catalysed by the recent publication of Therme Group’s ambitious green paper Human Cities: Increasing Urban Wellbeing, this Wellbeing Culture Forum session will outline the traits of the human city, focusing on the vital role of culture and creativity in creating urban environments more compatible with the wellbeing both of humans and the natural world. Watch the online discussion and learn more here.
ARCHITECTURE OF HEALTH AND HAPPINESS The Gains of Collaborative Design, 29 July
In order to truly enhance human wellbeing, city design needs to move beyond optimising single parameters to a more holistic approach. Architectures of Health and Happiness explored additional components such as inclusivity, diversity and fulfilment, which are needed to achieve healthier and more robust cities. Watch the online discussion and learn more here
THE SOCIAL CULTURE OF CITIES Shaping a Participatory Reality, 24 June
In partnership with British Council and moderated by their Director of Visual Arts, Emma Dexter, this session brought together voices from across disciplines, starting from architecture and expanding into art, design and science, to investigate how cultural adaptation in urban environments is crucial to navigating our changing world. Watch the online discussion and learn more here
CULTURE OF LIVE EVENTS Redesigning Common Rituals,17 June
Featuring, among others, Global Director of Art Basel Marc Spiegler and Artistic Director and Chief Executive of Manchester International Festival and The Factory, John McGrath, this discussion examined the importance of live events for the wellbeing of cultural life in society. Watch the online discussion and learn more here.
ART IN ARCHITECTURE How Art Can Liberate Architecture, 27 May
Featuring curator and Artistic Director of the Serpentine Galleries, Hans Ulrich Obrist, along with architects Junya Ishigami, Sumayya Vally, Frida Escobedo, Stefano Boeri, artist Torkwase Dyson as well as Therme Art curator Mikolaj Sekutowicz. Inspired by the Serpentine Pavilion Programme, the session focused on the relationship between art and architecture. Watch the online discussion and learn more here.
RE-ENTERING REALITY Curatorial Session, 20 May
Led by architect Arthur Mamou-Mani and Professor Sarah Wilson, the session involved a VR walk-through of Mamou-Mani’s Catharsis, the structure originally planned for Burning Man 2020. You can read more about the event here.
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