Aug 31, 2023
In May 2023, Swiss Institute launched Spora, a curatorial initiative centered in SI’s institutional imperative to integrate environmental consciousness and climate action into all facets of the institution. Like spores spreading throughout the physical structure of our building and permeating the immaterial processes of SI, Spora is an experiment that explores what a practice of environmental institutional critique could be.
Unfolding and growing over the course of the next several years, the initial artworks in the project will be on long-term view in the non-gallery spaces of SI. In the stairways, hallways, roof, and other interstitial spaces, artists have contributed to the daily life, maintenance and functioning of the building with artworks that take shape through compost, plants, wall paint, public space and more. These include Jenna Sutela’s earth battery-powered oracle, Vivian Suter’s weather-exposed mural, Helen Mirra’s chance-determined background painting, T’uy’t’tanat-Cease Wyss’s sonic recordings of mycelium, and Mary Manning’s photographs merging private and public, natural and urban spaces.
The artworks at the core of Spora are accompanied by the institution’s initial steps towards climate action, begun in 2022, which take form as a thorough analysis of SI’s carbon emissions through transport, travel, energy, and other ecological and social factors, and a plan of actions developed with the entire SI team for reducing the institution’s environmental impact. SI will publish and share this process with the hopes to sprout inspiration and collaboration across institutional boundaries. Spora is conceived as an open-ended approach, which acknowledges that this is a continuous project that will generate more questions than answers. It is an attempt to germinate change while acknowledging context and limitations, with the understanding that this process is imperfect but urgent.
Spora is made possible by Teiger Foundation. Additional support is provided by the Consulate General of Finland in New York City. The project is organized by Stefanie Hessler, Director, and Alison Coplan, Senior Curator and Head of Programs.
To read more about the artworks and their relationship to the Swiss Institute environment and a broader environmental consciousness, you can check out the New York Times article by John Vincler