School of the Forest
is a process- and research-based project that aims to create a fragmentary, decentralized, and horizontal framework to produce and exchange knowledge about, within, and with the forest. School of the Forest will firstly converge in Sihlwald, a forest situated outside of Zurich. The production of knowledge should create a new set of understandings of the idea of the Sihlwald as a demarcated territory and denominated “nature space” by humans. On the contrary, the forest will be a site and an actor in the project. Where does the forest begin and end? What does a forest embrace? Why does the forest matter?
The goal is to decentralize the (human) experience of the forest from a decolonial, feminist, and non-anthropocentric perspective. The project activities are inspired by promenadology (Lucius Burckhardt), the act of perceiving through walking. On the one side, they would aim to go beyond the culture/nature dichotomy and reframe the possibility of our experience of “being-in-the-nature” and “being-with-the-nature” itself - to a large extent: How can we perceive and understand the forest? On the other side, we would like to tackle the question: What can we learn from the forest? We should advance towards un-learning systems of knowledge that objectivize and facilitate the subjugation of nature and accordingly towards new learning processes based on relationships with the forest’s lifeforms.
In this regard, the project focuses on an equilibrium between human and nonhuman life through a relational agency within Sihlwald. It aims to create a community and platform to provide new forms of post-anthropocentric organization and knowledge. Taking the Mapuche concept of itrofill mongen [all the lives without exception] as a point of departure, the project recognizes the vitality of things, nonhuman agents, and beyond opening up the plurality of agency in our lives and transforming our knowledges, experiences, and practices.
School of the Forest consists of Paula Baeza Pailamilla, Sihlwald, Paloma Ayala, Aldir Polymeris, Dominik Zietlow, Sarina Scheidegger, Willimann/Arai, Domenico Ermanno Roberti and Jose Cáceres Mardones.