Juan Pablo Díaz

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The Background

I am Juan Pablo Díaz, cultural worker, born in Colombia where i studied fine arts and design. In the last 10 years till now (november 2014) i am living in Berlin were I studied art in context and developing different interdisciplinary projects between artists, scientists, historians, anthropologists and others. For the last 4 Years I was co-running the Project Space okk/raum within I was developing and organizing projects and exhibitions working in topics about art, society and politics. My interests are decentralized structures and systems, collective work, hierarchies of power and questions about property of knowledge.

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Food - Biotechnology - Biocolonialism

We are living now in an era of transition, where -under others- the geopolitical map is being changed with more conflicts than before and transforming faster cultural, political, social and economical structures around the world. Food and water is a relevant issue and instrument about hegemony and monopoly in the current transformations of the career of different centralizations of power, and basically every single organism or being in the planet has every day a relation with food. Patents of live describes in some way this issue and push us as society to put ethical questions about intellectual property and own of natural knowledge, cultural heritage, anthropocene and anthropocentrism. Biotechnological processes exist for a long time in the gastronomy of different cultures (like for example production of cheese, bread, alcohol and much others). In the actuality the Issue Biotechnology is quite demonized, but at the same time Patents on organisms or processes through the pharma and food industry -and others- are being instruments to homogenize and monopolize economy of food. In the last 3 years are growing movements and protests supporting country people in different points of the world and debates about agriculture and “free trade agreements” which condition rural structures, production of food and biodiversity. I personally have a close relation with the rural society in Colombia, understand their struggle and feel solidarity with them which is the same in different territories in the world, the family of my parents comes from the country and at the same time my childhood was around test tubes, pipettes and periodic tables, my mother is biologist and chemistry.

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The Idea

Food-Biotechnology-Biocoloniality (FBB) is an interdisciplinary cooperative network that aims in providing a platform for research, debate, praxis and exchange. Through the employment of artistic and scientific practices, the platform seeks to address the topic of food-economy as a space of political and cultural praxis, critique, innovation and reflexion. The aim of the project is to stimulate a learning and debating platform, which will focus on the relations among A) knowledge / cultural identity / intellectual property, B) biopolitics, C) biotechnology, D) economy, E) environment and F) migration / coloniality / modernity. The platform intends to promote ‘Food as cultural heritage’.

The motto “Eating as a political act”, as well as the cultural and economic relations between Food and Society are the focal points of the project. In this context, for each meeting, workshop, conference etc. we will invite people, who originate from various artistic and scientific disciplines and whose work focuses on Food, Process and Society. We are aiming to ‘review’ and develop the contributions of all project participants to the subject matters and the activities of the project, in order to present the results at the final exhibition, and to release a publication. The activities will take place in different locations across Europe, and they aim to tackle local as well as transnational issues relating to gastronomy and its economic and cultural processes. The pivot of the project is the cooperation between a fixed team of the different cooperation and associated partners that are organizing the project and their continuous exchange with invited artists, scientists, students and other related participants. It is estimated that the duration for the implementation of the project will be approximately 20 months.

The nature of the project is interdisciplinary, aiming to create a decentralized platform of exchange between disciplines and research methodologies. The immaterial culture of places and their contexts, where the activities take place, are focus on the subject of “Gastronomy as cultural heritage”. The term cultural heritage, as transferred from generation to generation, but also as transferred through seeds, will be reviewed by reference to the subtopic of consumption evolution, “preproduction”, production and production’s canals of foods as collective property and knowledge system.

Throughout the project, special attention will be paid to the interactive participation of cultural and scientific works seeking to achieve interdisciplinary and cultural exchange.

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The Structure of the project is elucidating the “meta-subjects” with references to the work of artists, theorists and scientists as follows:

Knowledge / cultural identity / intellectual property According to artist and writer Claire Pentecost, seeds are the oldest open-source knowledge-system in history, making them an essential part of the human commons. Collected from people and transferred across generations, seeds can constitute a material form of collective knowledge. In this sense, food incorporates the idea of knowledge as a commonweal, as something collective, social and horizontal, whose public domain and source-code stays constantly open, evolves and is interpreted and infinitely adapted.

Biopolitics With the term biopolitics Michael Foucault described during the 70s, the control of society over individuals, not only through the subconscious or through ideology, but also directly through the human body. Through the term “biopolitics” a new discussion about politics and the human life was opened up.

Biotechnology Over the course of time, the debates relating to the aims and the negative effects of specific applications of biotechnology on food, ethnic borders of genetic technology and GMOs, as well as laws of patents on life seem to be polarized.

Industry and agriculture For this meta-subject there are emerging debates on bio-diversity, local economies and gastronomic cultural diversity opposed the rise of the monopoly of food-industries and agriculture, the growth of mono-cultures, standardized production and mass-cultivation.

Environment The transformation of existing consumption habits and production, distribution and consumption modernism, and encouraged new alternatives. These subject-matters are closely related to questions of diversity, food-safety, socio-economic balance, environment and sustainability.

Migration / coloniality / modernity It is difficult to imagine life and civilization without critiquing human activity in relation to food. The history of gastronomy and of food-production is simultaneously a history of civilization and migration. The evolution of culinary cultures is linked to the evolution of human perception. The effect of global economy on the altering of trading canals and the specifications of the global market on local consumption and production is directly visible on the idea of safety of local food. Thus, the concepts of postcolonial territories and coloniality/modernity are central subjects to the project, which aims to render them with reference to food distribution and food commerce. The focal points of the project will be processed in relation to the concepts of modernity/coloniality and food.

The Technology

Actually the term Technology comes from the greek “techne” which means art, skill, cunning of hand and from “logia” which means “i speak”, word, discourses, communication. In this sense the pretension of the project is based on technological concepts, its about interdisciplinarity and exchange between art and science, between artistic research and scientific metodologies. The project aims not just to decentralize discourses but more to decentralize epistemology working on issues of semiotic under others. We are inviting artists and scientists from different disciplines to talk and work cooperative in the issues of Food, Biotechnology and coloniality in form of residences, laboratories and workshops. We make some fokus as well in the kitchen questioning it as traditionally feminized space, often invisible and connected with the family and private space and percepting it more as a space of production, as an academy place of exchange, interaction as a field of research and laboratorie for amateur and scientific experimentation. In this activities till now we have worked with for example Brain Degger (Molecular Biologist) experimenting with fermentation, centrifugation, acidulation and decantation or DIY Workshops creating selfmade Microscopes, A DIY Workshop with Luis Bustamante working on decentralized organization with drones as a metaphor of swarm behaviour and artificial intelligence, or Ruddiger Trojok (Molecular Biologist and Physician) creating food and poison with for bacterias touching Topics of DNA, penicillin and biodiversity and others. Innovation comes from experimentation and exchange treating topics of critic or facilities for human activity.

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Tips and Trics

Ideological critical social movements or coperative/collective projects are not always coopted through the systems or status quo, or boycotted through precariousity but more through themselves. Ideologies and dogmas are per se centralized structures falling automatically in the search of authoritarian solutions for centralized problematics of opression under others. Vanity and individualism are the common obstacles for each cooperative process, thats way is important to know so much as possible the individuals which every want to work with, and take distance of dogmas and ideologies it is necessary to work with people able to work in team. Science can be as well easily become dogmatic.

In the Project FBB we are meeting us and working with different individuals with common interests, common curiosities, common questions and common critics from different disciplines. In the process every question or topic are being seen from the view of diferent natural systems (physical, biological, chemical, social, economic, mental, linguistic, under others) and their properties should be viewed as wholes, not as collections of parts, it means in an holistic way.

In FBB has been necessary to invite people with know how to bring input in the exchange process to develop collective and not individualist results to feedback the cooperative process of the project. In this sense is positive to take distance of dogmas, be able to change the mind and connect issues from different disciplines.

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