Turba Tol Hol-Hol Tol @ Venice Biennale, Chilean Pavilion


The Chilean pavilion representing Chile at the 59th Venice Art Biennale is hosting the collective and interdisciplinary project Turba Tol Hol-Hol Tol, curated by Camila Marambio. Turba Tol Hol-Hol Tol is a collective project illuminating a wet fiction, an experimental path towards conserving the peatlands of Patagonia. It brings together a multidisciplinary team of Chilean creatives: Ariel Bustamante, sound artist; Dominga Sotomayor, filmmaker; Carla Macchiavello, art historian; Alfredo Thiermann, architect and Juan Pablo Vergara, management as well as scientists, indigenous activists, and other multinational collaborators.

Based on over a decade of eco-cultural cooperation in Tierra del Fuego, Turba Tol comes from the trans-disciplinary research practice of Ensayos and rethinks the role of art, creating growing communities oriented towards biodiversity conservation and coherent environmental actions. Ensayos’ Patagonian peatland research began some years before TurbaTol Hol-Hol Tol was conceived, but once the project was officially selected to represent Chile at the 59th International Art Exhibition La Biennale di Venezia it took on a life of its own—inspired by the Ensayos platform and informed by new participants and visions.

Ensayos’ contributions to the project include the Smellscape, SphagnumLAB and the Venice Agreement.

Smellscape: There are many smells, intra-actions, and life forms within all of these peatlands that we are not privy to. From our limited verticality and perception, we can usually only experience a fragment of peatlands from their watery surface. The bogs and fens of Australia, North America, and Norway are diverse in their ecologies, cultural meanings, and conservation status. They were sites of inquiry, connection, and meditation during Ensayos residencies with artists, indigenous activists, and scientists. As a result of this creative fieldwork, three international Ensayos “pods” conjured gifts of scent from their local peatlands to contribute to the multisensory experience of Turba Tol Hol-Hol Tol.

SphagnumLAB: SphagnumLAB is a functional scientific experiment within Turba Tol Hol-Hol Tol that builds on research undertaken at the Greifswald Mire Centre (GMC), the world’s leading peatland research institution. SphagnumLAB consists of a 60-square-metre field of Sphagnum palustre that was harvested from a paludiculture (wet peatland utilization for agriculture and forestry) research field at Hankhausen Moor in Lower Saxony, Germany. Within the pavilion, the field is installed in a pond with a water filtration system and appropriate lighting to ensure that the Sphagnum can thrive. Data regarding Sphagnum growth (length, height, weight) will be collected during the exhibition in order to calculate the amount of carbon that was absorbed during the exhibition.

The Venice Agreement: Signed during a historic assembly on June 2, 2022, the Venice Agreement represents a commitment by peatland custodians from around the world to change the trajectory of the ecological and cultural management of these wetland ecosystems towards effective conservation. By taking a bottom-up approach that recognizes local initiatives as key collaborators in the international process of peatland conservation, The Venice Agreement sets a new standard for the valuation and practice of protecting and restoring our planet’s peatlands at the local level.

Ensayos is proud to have contributed to this project, along with an illustrious group of indigenous and ecological activists, artists, scientists, writers, designers and land managers. All contributors are accurately credited here: https://turbatol.org/about.html

Slideshow photo credits: 1 & 2: Ugo Carmeni; 3 & 4: Benjamín Echazarreta; 5: Denise Milstein; 6: Benjamin Echazarreta; 7, 8, 9, 10, 11 & 12: Christy Gast; 13 & 14: Camila Marambio; Featured image: Randi Nygård

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