Feral Palace

ongoing collaboration with Jane Pirone, Hala Malak, Barbara Adams, Amitra Vohra, Lila Feldman

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“What kinds of tools and sensibilities enable us to recognize and listen to the diversity of Krater’s living beings and their various entanglements?”

An abandoned urban lot in Ljubljana, Slovenia is to be paved and built over with a large complex called the Palace of Justice. Current community stewards of the ruderal land organized an open call to consider “novel perspectives of seeing and valorising untamed urban territories, ones which would inspire a shift in spatial planning” (Osole and Sretenović, 2022).  

By bringing microbial sound levels to the same decible of live anthropogenic sound disruption outside and playing them inside the building, we create polyphonic sound that is sometimes harmonious, sometimes inaudible, sometimes disruptive, and always entangled. Demonstrating the contentious site of multispecies relations though Tsing’s “cohabitating” but not necessarily mutualistic ontologies (Tsing 2021), I elevate the noise to scales of human input and sensing in an inquiry into decentralizing human monopoly of agency and being heard, “inquir[ing] into forms of ontological multiplicity in which humans are not the only one[s]” operating in the constructed environment (Barad 2007).

Our group was selected to work under online mentorship of the driving force behind the zoöp movement, Klaas Kuitenbrouwer (Het Nieuwe Instituut), author of the term multispecies urbanism, Debra Solomon (Urbaniahoeve Foundation), social-ecological transformations researcher, Rok Kranjc (Institute for Ecology), co-founder of Krater creative laboratory, Gaja Mežnarić Osole (Trajna) and architect Danica Sretenović for four weeks. 

The design challenge asks us how we might incorporate zöonomic methodology, multispecies urbanism, and more-than-human commoning in urban design. In consideration of the multispecies future of the Krater site, we were not interested in a romaticized version of symbiosis defined by notions of purity and orderly alliance. We aimed to work instead with Anna Tsing’s vision of an interspecies assemblage, one that borrows from ecology to present an open-ended, agnostic alternative to the idea of ecosystem or community, which implies mutuality; instead, Tsing’s assemblage “allows us to ask about communal effects without assuming them,” imagining “gatherings of way of being” that don’t
require “ontological unity,” where we can “notice
constitutive intra-actions” (Tsing 2019).