Cartographies of The Unseen

PhD Project,  Basel Art Academy (Switzerland) in cooperation with the University of Arts Linz (Austria) 2017 – 2020

This research project investigates planetary entanglements enabling shifts in spatial-cognition, other notions of proximity and ways of being together, with the human and nonhuman, in global space.

These issues are explored through a complex eco-social landscape like the Colombian Pan-Amazon region (Nariño, Putumayo and Cauca), currently  the epicentre of ecological violence and land-use disputes, as well as new modes of governance and world-picturing put forward by indigenous communities through a process of epistemological re-calibration, philosophies of Sumak Kawsay (Buen Vivir  – Good living), and situated forms of aesthetic thinking and public assembly.

Putumayo River, Colombia. 2018


Through this practice-based research I examine epistemic shifts around territorial governance and forms of aesthetic inquiry of spatial-thinking through the lens of indigenous governance, postcolonial thinking and participatory arts as a means of co-presence and co-production of knoelwdges. Therefore, this study focuses on eco-social landscapes existing on a vertical axis, where depth (minerals and resource extraction, subsoils, hydrologies, etc), terrain (sites for interactions between human and non-human agents, knowledges and emerging forms of public assembly), and finally altitude (moving airborne particles, airspace, satellites, etc). This vertical study of the landscape, ultimately renders a cosmopolitical dimension of the planet that encompasses new coexisting spaces, hybrid spatial logics and other forms of knowledge production, new approaches to aesthetic thinking and even the potential for renewed artistic  languages and pedagogies.


This practice-based approach to research is developed through a journey across a vertical landscape, with stages like mapping, navigation and devenir. Therefore, by using sensorial ethnography, forms of mapping and counter-mapping, participatory art, writing, video and installations, I seek to address planetary entanglements across different layers of space, from the underground to exosphere and in apparently remote and disconnected locations from the Global South. By exploring the entangled relations that exist on a vertical axis of a given space (in this case the Colombian Pan-Amazon region) I believe it is possible to recognise new frontiers of public space beyond the framework urbanism and colonial land-use logics, still very focused on granting ground-level rights to communities while reserving depth and altitudes for control and special interests.

In-progress work:
Experimental film based on field work carried out in the Summer of 2018 in the Pan-Amazon region (Putumayo, Cauca and Nariño). Colombia.


What we know / What we aim to know:

Until now, western epistemologies informing territorial regulation, resource extraction and ownership of space have fuelled a kind of human exceptionalism and the imposing rule of culture over nature. This attitude is still used to justify all sorts of irreversible interventions on the planet, while rendering public spaces (spaces for collectivity) as mostly flat, instrumental and urbanised. Therefore, this inquiry into unseen seeks to recognize new sites, aesthetic sensibilities, knowledges, and modes of attachment that counterbalance the logics of world-spanning systems of: influence (geopolitics, global economy, environmental policy, knowledge, etc); exchange (connectivity, market-oriented global traffic, consumption, migration, etc) and dependency  (resource extraction, markets, migrant labour, climate change, etc). Ultimately, this project aims to set in motion current interpretations of publicness by creating a dialogic space where: 1) It is possible to explore, understand and propose shifts in spatial-thinking through a participatory vessel for art, research and pedagogy that navigates across disciplines and epistemologies;  2) Develop a framework for art and knowledge production that embraces marginal aesthetic practices from the Global South, enabling new languages for aesthetic thinking applied to planetary spaces; 3) envision cultural policy (i.e. public art policy) capable of addressing vertical landscapes and eco-social and human-non-human interactions as a manifestation of the ever expanding public sphere.

via GIPHY Overview, April 2018: