SUELO is a methodology that uses the concept, metaphor and materiality of soil as sustenance, home, land, and territory to re-articulate the natural and cultural value of a selected location, leading into a practice of collective worlding and imagining of regenerative futures.
Similar to analysing a soil profile, the program reveals the layers of history, present and potential futures through an open, experiential expertise exchange between the holders of knowledge – be these elements of the ecosystem, local community members or allies/guests from different fields of study who are connected with the area. This, in turn, brings to light the interlacing relationships that make up a place – the set of “stakeholders” who may create alliances and networks of support to sustain the place in the long run, promoting its value, conservation and community building.
The Suelo experience is designed as a horizontal exchange between selected contributors and participants, based on the premise that every single person is an expert in their own life, and that we all have different ways of learning. We all have different areas of interest that can be activated through a variety of impulses, creating connections that drive us to care for something (in this case soil, land, place, territory) or expand our understanding. The exchange is encouraged to be in the form of storytelling, embodied / hands-on experiences, kinship-building exercises, and informal encounters such as meals or walks.
The SUELO pilot project was carried out in January 2014 in SaLo, Punta San Lorenzo, Veraguas – on the oldest rocks in Panama. Through guided experiences by selected participants, an exchange of knowledge took place with members of the Arrimadero community. This first residency was co-facilitated by the Estudio Nuboso team, and guests artist Claire Pentecost and researcher Brian Holmes (both from Chicago).
“I have seen how structured multidisciplinary encounters generate new questions, ideas and understanding; and that conducting an organized study of a particular place opens doors to transformative knowledge. Shared knowledge is multiplied knowledge.”
“What are we becoming in the transformations of the twenty-first century? How can we co-evolve with the territories in which we live, rather than destroy them? To find these answers, each of us must learn to listen to others and pay attention to the ground beneath our feet. Traditionally, art, natural and social sciences remain worlds apart. This is an opportunity to bridge this gap.”
– Brian Holmes