Learning from the Commons

Learning from the Commons

This work is a video atlas exploring the relation between environmental restoration and re-inhabitation in rural Europe. The atlas is composed of images, videos, and interviews collected during field trips to rural Salamanca, Zamora, and Galicia, Spain. It presents two separate conditions. First, rural areas of Spain suffering from depopulation and land abandonment, and second, an indigenous community restoring their common woodland through collective action. 

The artist employed open-source environmental sensing techniques by creating cameras to capture the rate of photosynthesis in plants. Rigging them to a simple helium balloon, he undertook a series of ‘sensory walks’ to register different processes affecting the land. Slowly moving through the brush, navigating the spatial threshold of communal land, private property, and abandoned parcels, these walks provide a low-tech near sensing of these conditions.

The work is part of an ongoing investigation exploring environmental restoration as a process of resistance and posits that a network of territorial commons could become a key framework for re-inhabiting our rural areas and generate participatory environmental restoration projects.

This work was realised within the framework of the European Media Art Platforms (EMAP) programme at LABoral Centro de Arte y Creación Industrial (ES) with support of the Creative Europe Culture Programme of the European Union.

© Stefan Laxness
Stefan Laxness

Stefan Laxness is a London based architectural researcher, artist, and former project leader at Forensic Architecture where he led numerous projects, including The Ayotzinapa Case: A Cartography of Violence. Stefan is the co-founder of ‘Pantopia.xyz’, an educational platform for spatial thinkers. His creative practice explores the consequences and opportunities brought about by the climate crisis regarding how we inhabit and engage with our built environment.