ANIMALS: Interdependence Between Species. Nature, Art & Habitat Residency: An ECO-Laboratory of Multidisciplinary Practice Taleggio Valley, Italian Alps

VISION NAHR recognizes that all living organisms depend on each other for survival. This coexistence is at the root of ecological thinking, and holds as paramount the need to fight climate change and save animal species from extinction. NAHR 2020 intends to foster an expanded consciousness of these issues through sensorial and reflective “dialogue.” From […]


NAHR recognizes that all living organisms depend on each other for survival. This coexistence is at the root of ecological thinking, and holds as paramount the need to fight climate change and save animal species from extinction. NAHR 2020 intends to foster an expanded consciousness of these issues through sensorial and reflective “dialogue.” From this exploration, we believe we can develop a pivotal change in the global approach to Nature, moving away from the hierarchical view that sees humankind as entitled to dominate any other species, and towards a holistic approach where humankind lives in harmony with other species.

Using this emerging framework, Fellows will be encouraged to create artifacts embedded with the transformation from an ego-centric to an eco-centric world view. Projects could focus on the loss of biodiversity, interspecies relations, species vulnerability, conservation efforts, biopolitics, among other topics. Fellows are also encouraged to explore how animals inspire design, architecture, art, music and/or the performing arts.


Climate change and loss of biodiversity are interconnected. However, the former has been getting most of the attention in recent environmental discourse. NAHR 2020 wants to focus on, and find reasons for, why we should prioritize biodiversity. Perhaps it is because we depend on each other!

The visible effects of human impact on climate change, and the mounting loss of biodiversity around the globe, has generated renewed interest in resilient, bio-inclusive solutions to reversing the climate crisis. We think that these solutions should take into account current lifestyles and aspirations, today’s  unprecedented technological advancements, and be informed by historical precedents for interspecies coexistence. Doing so allows our explorations to range in scale from micro to macro biomes. We also give ourselves the opportunity to learn from the past.

Aligned with the objectives of the convention on biodiversity from Rio 1992, which still have not been adequately realized, NAHR 2020 offers an eco-laboratory to Fellows interested in developing strategies to rebalance and redesign the relationships between species.


The Taleggio Valley landscape in the foothills of the Alps in northern Italy, with its dramatic scenery and secluded physical environment, will serve as a rich source of inspiration for ideas, and a fertile ground for bio-inspired projects to flourish.

The Valley’s own biodiversity supports a habitat for hundreds of species, both wild and domesticated, in the waters, soil and air. The landscape shows distinct and varied features at different elevations, from the bottom of ravines to the mountain pastures of the Parco delle Orobie. Micro-animals (microorganisms and microbes) and invertebrates (insects, shellfish, worms, and spiders), fish, reptiles, birds, and mammals can all be readily observed, serving as inspiration for creative inquiry.

Its villages and towns, all in close proximity, offer many opportunities to observe and study the ‘built’ environment of both natural and artificial constructions, and their alteration over the years, as human and non-human strategies of habitation shifted to adapt to ever-changing environmental, economic, and social factors. Bird’s nests, roccoli (hunting towers), spider-webs, burrows, and farms are examples of some of the many features that promise to inspire sympathetic thinking, design responses, and other fabrications during the residency.

We believe human perceptions of the world are enhanced by exploring the mechanisms other species have developed for sensing, mapping, and moving through the same territories as humans. As all senses are engaged in an exploration of the Valley’s living eco-laboratory, one starts to perceive the world differently. The residency ultimately pursues the notion that this shift in perception is the key for creative resilience, the mechanism that allows ecosystems to create a sustainable life through adaptation and cooperation.


NAHR aims to support the development and sharing of bio-inspired projects, ignite conversations, and spark possible future collaborative research. With this in mind, the following are some initiating thoughts for applicants:

1.      Questions on Coexistence:

·       In what ways can we envision a post human-centered world in which all living organisms could coexist? How can we interpret this quote from Giorgio Agamben(4): “…the relations between animals and men will take on a new form, and man himself will be reconciled with his animal nature.’’

·       How does the rise of smart technologies like A.I. fit in to a vision of coexistence?

2.      Questions About Interspecies Boundaries:

·       How do we define boundaries between species that depend on each other? How do we understand these boundaries in historical, cultural and biological contexts?

·       Does the vulnerability of some species translate to vulnerabilities of all species?

3.      Questions About Scale and Perception, or the Senses:

·       How does the size of an organism influence humankind’s perception of its relevance or value?

·       How can we develop our ability to interact with the non-human in non-visual ways, and what are the benefits of this?

·       Can sensing the world like an animal help foster new kinds of relationships between species?

4.      Questions About Making and Building:

·       Can we learn to build in a manner more attuned to the environment by observing burrows, webs, nests, etc.?

·       How do non-human animal buildings and methods of making contribute to their survival, and to their thriving?


NAHR encourages experimental explorations based on globally relevant concepts, theories or methodologies about interspecies coexistence and post-anthropocentric thinking as their fundamental framework. Collaboration across disciplines, with other NAHFellows, is particularly encouraged and supported. These explorations can be done using a variety of media, and will be shared at the conclusion of NAHR in expressive forms including, but not limited to: dance performances, poetry recitations, promenade theatre presentations, art installations, site-specific activations, and other creative products.

Given the immersive, site-specific context for NAHR, when drafting submissions applicants must demonstrate the ways in which their projects will seek to engage with Val Taleggio as a shifting, multi-dimensional space in which local characteristics intersect a global dynamic. Applicants should show how they intend to examine elements and ecosystems within the Val Taleggio, while scaling or linking their subjects to globally relevant concepts.

In accordance with this year’s theme, NAHR encourages applications that propose an inter- or trans-disciplinary approach across a range of creative forms and modes of expression, which might take the form of designs, actions, events, and so forth, in which the use of the ecosystem of the Valley will remain a key element of the proposal. Projects proposing observance of animals in their habitat with all its elements, including both natural and humanly-altered states, are especially encouraged.

Together with the NAHW (Workshop), NAHR (Residency) participants will visit high and low pastures, walk across the mountains, attend dedicated lectures by specialists in the area, and be guided across the surrounding landscapes (natural and built), in order to explore local interconnections and contrast these with those in the neighboring valleys of Brembilla, Brembana, Seriana and Imagna. By offering the opportunity for site-specific investigations, NAHencourages participants to explore interactions and relationships within the Valley’s ecosystems. We seek to offer a fertile environment for a range of cross-disciplinary research and, in return for offering these opportunities, we expect NAHR Fellows to complete culminating presentations (designs, actions, events, so forth) at the conclusion of their time in the Val Taleggio.

(1) (2)
(4) Giorgio Agamben, The Open. Man and Animal, 2004

Duration of residency

June 2020, 1 month
ALT RES July or August 2 to weeks


Provided Studio, One or Two Bedroom Apartment.

Residents are expected to be at NAHR for the majority of the time to fulfill one relevant objective of their NAHR residency: namely, the residency expects to bring participants into active engagement with each other in addition to the natural environment. Daily collegial interaction with other residents is an essential dimension of the NAHR experience, and residents are expected to discuss their projects, receive, and provide feedback. Artists are expected to take advantage of the residency by spending their time in the Valley, experiencing the Alpine environment, visiting sites, contacting local people, working with traditional and innovative materials, experimenting old and new technologies, sharing reflections and contents in workshop sessions, promoting their works in public happenings, as well as producing the final documentation for the open studio weekend and for NAHR archive.

Resources: Facilities may vary depending on the project needs. Local artisans might support the production needs while local mountaineers may guide the residents during their excursions in nature. Public Library and Ecomuseum Support available upon appointment.

Wi-Fi zone: There is no wifi in the individual units. NAHR vision is to have people spending most of their time outdoors. wifi zone is provided as mean of minimum necessary communication outside the community. Please note: There is no capacity for long skype connections or movie streaming.

Working languages: English, Italian
The village community speaks Italian — any project that seeks to engage with the community has to consider the language. Basic knowledge of Italian is a requirement for these type of projects.

Available activities in the Valley: Workshops, Exhibitions, Excursions in nature (free trail and guided tours, overnight in huts), Bike tours, Fishing, Open air local festivals and activities.

Disclaimer: Outdoors activities such as walks, hikes, and weather conditions, while part of the residency, could imply a certain degree of risk. NAHR organizers may not be held responsible for injuries or losses that may occur during these activities. Health insurance (in addition to any other insurance individuals might select) is required in order to be admitted to NAHR and are at Fellows’ responsibility.

Number of residents admitted: 7
NAHR June Residency are not allowed companions to stay, only day time visitors.

Companions are allowed to visit only for Alt. Residency and will be considered on a case by case basis. Additional expenses to be covered individually by the applicant. Alt. Residents that stay up to 2 weeks can a visitor only 1 week, maximum.

Expenses to be covered by NAHR Fellows: Flight, Travel, Supplies, Prints, Food, Extra. No funding for the above expenses is available at this time. Upon request, NAHR is pleased to provide individuals with a letter of support for independent funding purposes.

Disciplines, work equipment and assistance

NAHR is particularly invested in seeing proposals from applicants in which an artifact will be produced which expresses, in new and novel ways, the resiliency of nature across the following four domains:

Regenerative Economy
This approach encourages the study of local culture and production/exchange relations that extend to observations on local ecosystems in order to generate economic models based on concepts of restoration, regeneration and circularity. These models are ideally exportable to future developments at both local and global scales, promoting a resilient use of natural and cultural resources, and eliminating obsolete concepts such as waste and pollution.

Bio-Inspired Design and Architecture
The development and/or creation of projects and artifacts inspired by form, functions and processes found in the nature of the Valley.

Body Performing Nature
Artwork production and critical embodied investigations that articulate our relationship to nature, landscape, sustainability and ecology though creative movement of the human body. Proposals may include all types of embodied performances, dance, and site specific choreographies.

Designed Futures, Technology & New Media
The use of emerging technology tools/engines such as virtual and augmented reality, 3D printing, scanning, artificial intelligence, sensor-based systems, robotics, and simulations to investigate the shifting boundary between technology and nature, infrastructure and ecosystems.

NAHR aims to involve bio-inspired, multi-disciplinary practitioners, academic and professional, from these fields:

Art Practices (across all platforms, mediums, modes, and materials)
Architecture / Design
Anthropology/Digital Humanities
Biology/Natural Sciences/ Ecology
Sustainability Studies
Technology and Computational Sciences
Visual Arts/Film/Liberal Studies

more details:

Studio / Workspace

Shared working studio areas and open-air studio spaces will be provided upon request. Fellows are expected to consider the studio as the base of their research on site and to spend most of their time outdoors. Indoor large spaces and/or tools studios for painting, working, choreography are limited.

Fees and support

June residency if free.
ALT RES minimum weekly fees apply.

Expectations towards the artist

Artists in the NAHR residency are expected to engage proactively with the immersive environment of Taleggio Valley within its nature – mountains, woods, streams and rivers, meadows – as well as the built environment – villages, barns, trails, mountain huts, and so forth – in order to get the most out of their time. This may extend to the following:

– Periodic engagement and sharing of work with the other residents, local people and institutions (language constraints must be taken into consideration)

– Participating to introductory workshops and field trips

– Presentation of final work

– Submittal of the project documentation (digital and analogue) for NAHR archive and donation of one piece for NAHR future exhibitions and/or auctions.

– Acknowledgment of NAHR in future works that result directly or indirectly from the participation to the Residency.

Application deadline

Residency starts

Residency ends


Link to more information