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It’s that time of the year when I finish all residencies, fellowships, talks, and exhibitions, and reflect on the year that’s about to pass. It’s been a wonderful year of learning from different cultures and finding other ways of pursuing my practice. In 2018, I held residencies and fellowships in Vienna (KulturKontakt Austria and the Austrian Federal Chancellery), Beijing (China Residencies and Red Gate Gallery), and Taipei (Mekong Cultural Hub and the British Council). This post recalls some of my favorite memories during my Vienna residency.


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Upside down castle! 🏰😍 #SchlossWalks

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My residency with KulturKontakt Austria and the Austrian Federal Chancellery was, without a doubt, one of the best and most rewarding residencies I’ve had. Being in the quiet environment of the Schloss Laudon complex, having a very supportive staff (Hi Nicole and Brigitte!) and wonderful collaborators, and having freedom and time made me push myself and not waste a day. It also helped that I was around nature and was able to go hiking every day if I wished. I came out with another body of work and more questions that I hope to pursue as I move forward.

Here are memories that I took away from Vienna and hope to return to one day:

1. The museums

Specifically, I could live in the Naturhustorisches Museum Wien (Natural History Museum, Vienna), and bunk in the meteorite room and hang out with the taxidermists and herpetologists. Then I can take a break by going across the plaza to check out the cabinet of curiosities at the Kunsthistorisches Museum. Then walk across the street to MuseumsQuartier and take a nap on one of the purple benches. It was fantastic to drink in all of this knowledge and be inspired by it.

 

 

 
 
 
 
 
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The meteorite room! Hello again, lover. 😍

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2. The Tiergarten

I love animals and have always been seeking to incorporate zoology (one of the subjects my mom used to teach) into my work, so it was such joy to work with Gerhard Heindl, the historian of the oldest zoo in the world, to produce our collaborative piece, Der Tiergarten 1.0: Human Forces on the Animal Kingdom.

 

 

 
 
 
 
 
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It was really great to welcome Dr. Gerhard Heindl at our group show at the Federal Chancellery exhibition hall yesterday! Dr. Heindl is the historian of the Schönbrunn Zoo, whom I’ve been collaborating since the beginning of my residency with KulturKontakt Austria. Together we produced this project for Wild Science: Der Tiergarten 1.0: Human Forces on the Animal Kingdom is a board game that illustrates the human forces that affect the animal kingdom and, consequently, the biodiversity of the planet. The two-person game allows the players to reflect on the effects of border walls, climate change, poaching, etc., while moving game pieces on the board. The wood was taken from a 100-plus-year-old dying maple tree that was planted in the Schönbrunn Tiergarten, the oldest zoo in the world, and was cut to prevent safety hazards. The artist then sanded and laser-engraved it with a design based on the original menagerie plans of the Tiergarten by Jean Nicolas Jadot de Ville-Issey in 1751. The game cards include archival images of animals in the Tiergarten with images dating before World War II. The game recalls popular card games such as Pokemon and Exploding Kittens, whose strategies for mass attention the artist reflected on. What might we do to make people think about biodiversity in their daily lives? https://wildscience.cc/2018/06/12/der-tiergarten-1-0-human-forces-on-the-animal-kingdom/ #WildScience #DerTiergarten #SchonbrunnTiergarten

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It was also a treat to go around the zoo in a golf cart to carry some 100+ year old wood!

 

 

 
 
 
 
 
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When the historian of the world’s oldest zoo personally drives you with a suitcase full of stuff for your collaboration. 😂😍 Danke for the lift, Dr. Heindl! #WildScience

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3. Schloss Laudon and Augustinerwald

I miss the castle that we were never allowed into. And the swans and flowers. And those two sculptures of wild boars. And the room that used to be a sauna that was turned into art studios. And most of all, the stories of previous residents.

I also miss my bathtub, the Schloss Laudon fox, the trees I would say hello to, the bugs, etc.

 

 

 
 
 
 
 
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Gonna miss you, Schloss Laudon fox! Good to see you on our last days. #SchlossWalks

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There were no taekwondo schools nearby so I had to find other ways of being centered. Thankfully, there was a forest right outside the schloss, so off I went many times. Being in nature is one way to flex our muscle against capitalism and fascism, so this is one thing I always make time for:

 

 

 
 
 
 
 
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Hiking my normal route counterclockwise is definitely a lot better. Look at this light! 😍 Plus the muddy parts become uphill and easier and I shaved off 15 minutes from my usual time. 😀

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4. My fellow residents
As KulturKontakt Austria’s first artist-in-residence from the Philippines (sheesh, aren’t I always the first artist from the Philippines?), it was very mind-expanding to meet fantastic artists from Eastern Europe. To most Asians, when we think of Europe it’s usually the London-Paris-Barcelona triad and nearby, perhaps similar to how Westerners automatically think “Japan” or “China” when they think of Asia. Perhaps we surprised each other. It’s always a very humanizing event to meet different people and realize how very similar we are. Not to mention how amazing their food is.

 

 

 
 
 
 
 
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What a gorgeous day for a picnic! 😍

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5. My non-residency friends
Isn’t it great to click with people from all over the world? In this residency I met some activists, translators, artists, and many other people who made my three-month stay in Vienna seem as though I was home. There are still lots of freethinking people in Austria; I highly recommend checking it out!

 

 

 
 
 
 
 
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One Manileño down, one to go. We’ll miss you, Poklong! Even me; I live in Malate and you’re in QC! 😂

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6. New skills
Each project makes me want to push myself and learn something new, so it is with a lot of pride and excitement that I report that I can now work with a belt sander and a laser engraver. The latter is only after a lot of help from German-speaking people at HappyLab. I’m a member of a maker lab—how miraculous is that?

 

 

 
 
 
 
 
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This century-old tree took so long to work on. Now I need a massage. But very happy to work with my hands. 😂😍 #ChicksWithPowerTools #WildScience

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7. Working with kids
I think working with children and youth will always be part of my practice, so hurray for the first group of writers for Letters for Science!

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This June 18th, I was at Eferding,  the third oldest city in Austria, to hold an art and science workshop for KulturKontakt Austria's Artists in Residence Go to School program. The 13-year-old students studied their specimens under the microscopes, learned about Austria's historic Novara Expedition, did a scent workshop, and for the last fifteen minutes the girls and I discussed feminism. 😂😍 These were the kids who wrote the first cohort of Letters for Science, Wild Science's participatory project where the public writes letters to people skeptical of the science of climate change, shape of the earth, vaccinations, etc., to create a respectful and empathetic discourse with people of different beliefs. Their letters were exhibited at our group exhibition at the Austrian Federal Chancellery in Vienna. It was really good to meet them for the first time. Thanks, kids, and to their English teacher, Frau Eva Heider-Stadler! Eferding is also the place where astronomer Johannes Kepler got married, so it was cool to visit! #WildScience

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8. Being around the history of science and art
From carrying a pizza box outside Johannes Kepler’s old apartment to having coffee in Gustav Klimt’s old stomping grounds, Austria is pretty fantastic for art-science nerds like me.

9. The Naschmarkt

 

If I add up the ages of all the old science books I bought, they will span centuries. I miss my Saturday routine of grabbing a couple of Kaspressknödel and saying hello to my favorite booksellers, Gerard and Idris.

 

 

 
 
 
 
 
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Last day in the flea market and said goodbye to my favorite stalls. Going to miss these century-plus-old books! 😍😭

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I also unwittingly built a collection of Nazi books, including a 1938 Mein Kampf. I’m still hoping to incorporate into a project. (I only read half of it; how depressing to read someone’s unadulterated hatred for other people.)

 

10. The cakes
Hey Austria, when I finally lose the 10 pounds I gained from three months of eating Sachertorte, I hope to see you again.

 

 


Thanks for everything, Vienna! Hope to see you again soon!

 

From April to June 2018, I was artist-in-residence of KulturKontakt Austria and the Austrian Federal Chancellery. The body of work produced during this time was Wild Science.

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The Planetary Renewal Spa

The Planetary Renewal Spa (2018- ) is a series of self-care performance rituals that illuminate the effects of climate breakdown. The spa currently offers two services: Back Massage to Simulate Hurricanes and Disappearing Honey Facial.

The Planetary Renewal Spa: Back Massage to Simulate Hurricanes

Back Massage to Simulate Hurricanes takes clients on a sensory experience of a hurricane, from light feathery touches of the coming storm to a full catastrophe.

 

The Planetary Renewal Spa: Disappearing Honey Facial

 

Disappearing Honey Facial gives clients a relaxing facial massage using raw honey while the artist narrates the story of bees disappearing because of climate change.

 

The Planetary Renewal Spa: Back Massage to Simulate Hurricanes

 

The Planetary Renewal Spa was first performed at Red Gate Gallery in Beijing as part of my residency as the 5th Crystal Ruth Bell resident of China Residencies.

I’ll be traveling for some residencies and fellowships, so until then, here is a preview of some work coming soon:

I got dolled up to create videos for The Sewer Soaperie and The Ephemeral Marvels Perfume Store:

I explore the intersection of religion, belief, and technology in the center of mysticism in Manila:

Ciao!

xo
Catherine

I’m honored to show “The Ephemeral Marvels Perfume Store” at the “Victor Papanek: The Politics of Design” exhibition at the Vitra Design Museum in Weil am Rhein, Germany, which shows from September 30, 2018 to March 10, 2019! I’m excited to be one of the contemporary designers and honored to have a small contribution to this fantastic exhibition for my work on climate change. Very humbled to be among some amazing people whose work I’ve learned from through the years. Deepest thanks to the curators and exhibition team!

An excerpt from the VDM site:

With the exhibition »Victor Papanek: The Politics of Design«, running from 29 September 2018 to 10 March 2019, the Vitra Design Museum will present the first large retrospective focussing on the designer, author, and activist Victor J. Papanek (1923–1998). Papanek was one of the twentieth century’s most influential pioneers of a socially and ecologically oriented approach to design beginning in the 1960s. His key work, »Design for the Real World« (1971), remains the most widely read book about design ever published. In it, Papanek makes a plea for inclusion, social justice, and sustainability – themes of greater relevance for today’s design than ever before. The exhibition includes high-value exhibits such as drawings, objects, films, manuscripts, and prints, some of which have never before been presented. These are complemented by works of Papanek’s contemporaries from the 1960s to 1980s, including George Nelson, Richard Buckminster Fuller, Marshall McLuhan, or the radical design initiative »Global Tools«. Contemporary works from the areas of critical and social design provide insight into Papanek’s lasting impact.

»Victor Papanek: The Politics of Design« is organized into four sections offering an in-depth look at Papanek’s life and work. The exhibition begins with an introductory, large-format media installation presenting the designer’s ideas in a contemporary context and follows with a biographical overview tracing Papanek’s life from his escape from Europe to his international success. For the first time, organizers were able to draw upon materials of the Papanek estate held by the Papanek Foundation at the University of Applied Arts Vienna, which includes a number of documents that have never been exhibited, including notebooks, letters, furniture, pieces from Papanek’s collection of ethnological objects, as well as over thousands slides that the designer used for his lectures.

Two other sections focus on the main themes of Papanek’s work, including his fundamental criticism of consumerism and his engagement with social minorities, his commitment to the needs of what was then known as the »Third World«, ecology, sustainability, and »making« culture – creation and production using one’s own resources – which had its origins in the 1960s do-it-yourself movement. Visitors can also view a wealth of designs by Papanek, his students, and other collaborators, including those by the Danish designer Susanne Koefoed, who as a student of Papanek developed the first International Symbol of Access in 1968.

The exhibition is supplemented with around twenty carefully selected contemporary works that transport Papanek’s ideas into the twenty-first century by designers including Catherine Sarah Young, Forensic Architecture, Jim Chuchu, Tomás Saraceno, Gabriel Ann Maher, or the Brazilian collective Flui Coletivo and Questtonó. They, too, deal with complex themes such as global climate change, fluid gender identities, consumer behaviour, or the economic realities of migration, meaning they reflect the continuing resonance of the questions Papanek was already addressing in the 1960s. At the same time, they break out of the white, Western, and male-dominated world to which Papanek was bound despite all his efforts to the contrary.

»Victor Papanek: The Politics of Design« is thus both a retrospective as well as a themed exhibition. By focusing on Papanek the person, we can better understand a larger theme, namely the significance of design as a political tool. After all, what was revolutionary for Papanek’s time is now generally accepted: design is not only about giving form to something; it is a tool for political transformation that must consider social and ethical points of view. This is reflected by the fact that today’s debates over themes such as social design and design thinking draw upon Papanek’s ideas as a matter of course. The exhibition seeks to rediscover Papanek as a pioneer of these debates – and as one of design’s greatest forward thinkers – for the twenty-first century. At the same time, it examines how Papanek’s socially engaged design is changing our world today – as well as how it can make the world a better one.

The Ephemeral Marvels Perfume Store at the “Victor Papanek: The Politics of Design” opening. Image by Vitra Design Museum

More here.

Hello friends! The online voting polls for the Best Climate Solutions Award are open from September 24 until October 15 (5:00 PM CEST). The Apocalypse Project is in the running under “Education and Media”. I’m hoping to fund a future series of projects benefiting an indigenous rainforest community in the Philippines, and to create an arts-led curriculum that outlines the frameworks of the climate change adaptation projects and workshops I’ve been leading in all of these places around the world you’ve seen me in. If you can please take a few minutes to vote and/or share with your friends, that would be great. Thank you very much!

HOW TO VOTE: Sign up or log onto http://www.bestclimatesolutions.eu/solutions/ and search for The Apocalypse Project. You can also visit http://www.apocalypse.cc for everything this project has done in the last 5 years.

Bestclimatesolutions.eu is a new platform to showcase the most innovative and compelling efforts from around the world to build a climate-smart and resilient future, and engaging with local developers, innovators, business operators, and researchers to support the scaling up of tools, technologies and business models that can generate tangible impacts.

Best Climate Solutions builds on the unique experience of the Best Climate Practices observatory, an initiative developed by ICCG in partnership with the Euro-Mediterranean Center on Climate Change (CMCC). Since 2012 the Best Climate Practices observatory has collected and promoted a wide range of concrete actions for dealing with climate change challenges such as energy access, water management, climate finance, disaster risk reduction.

I’m honored to be listed as one of the ten Future Greats by ArtReview Asia with me selected by Poklong Anading, one of the region’s top artists, for their Summer 2018 issue. This is truly the kindest thing anyone has ever said about me that’s Google-able, and it’s more than I deserve. Thank you very much!

“I was invited to be on a jury for a residency in France, she applied and that’s where I first came across her name. She’s not so active in the local scene in Manila and more into producing works through residencies outside the Philippines. Nevertheless, it was a real surprise that no one in the local scene knew her. I find her work very interesting because there is a scientific base to it (she has collaborated with scientists, local communities, corporate entities and chefs), and it’s rare to see this. You have to study her work to really feel it, because it has a delicate nature. She’s concerned with the environment in a way that’s not so close to my own concerns (even though I’m doing some research on sewage systems in various countries): she has a way of working that’s more accurate, more responsible.

Sometimes I think I shouldn’t be part of the art scene: why are we making art rather than fixing society? The more art that is made, the more it spreads and the more problematic it becomes: we talk about a problem rather than addressing it. But Catherine uses art to bring extra perspectives to bear on environmental and social issues, which leads to a better understanding of the problems, and that’s what impresses me. Works from her Climate Change Couture (2013) series, part of The Apocalypse Project (2013–; an interdisciplinary platform that seeks to reveal the humane face of climate change), for example, draw on the disciplines of design and fashion to produce artworks in the form of wearable costumes that speak about what humans might have to do to adapt to climate change. I trust her knowledge. For me artmaking is more poetic, but I see the weight of knowledge behind her work as giving it importance. More than that, she plays with things and mixes things up. Her Sewer Soaperie series (2016) uses research into so-called fatbergs, conducted in Manila and Medellín, to trace the journeys of various cooking oils, ending up in the saponification of various used cooking oils and greases collected from sewers and open pipes in Manila (interestingly the saponification of used palm oil raised questions about how pure it was in the first place). She has a sharp mind and is very serious about what she does.”
—Poklong Anading

Works featured here are from The Apocalypse Project, a body of work that explores climate change and our environmental futures, specifically Climate Change Couture (2013) done during a residency at the Singapore-ETH Future Cities Laboratory, and the Sewer Soaperie (2016) created during a residency at Casa Tres Patios and Platohedro.

I’m very cognizant of how I’m able to do my work thanks to residencies and fellowships, as well as the generosity of time and resources of a lot of people. I’m going to work really hard for this to come true. Many thanks to all my previous and current collaborators!

View the article here.

I’m delighted to announce that The Apocalypse Project is in the running for the Best Climate Solutions 2018 Award for “Communicating Climate Change Threats and Opportunities”! I’m hoping to fund a future series of projects benefiting an indigenous rainforest community in the Philippines, and to create an arts-led curriculum that outlines the frameworks of the climate change adaptation projects and workshops I’ve been leading in all of these places in the world you’ve seen me in.

The online voting procedure will be open from September 24, 2018 until October 15, 2018 (5.00 pm CEST).

View the entry here.