Skip to main content

Exhibition

Science Friction

Living Among Companion Species

Is it possible to imagine other earthly stories? Can we conceive of other ways of living among different species? This exhibition explores these issues with the help of a selection of works of art and popular science. It proposes a change of mentality and sensitivity that questions the supremacy of the human species, opting for a view of the world understood as an ecosystem where all the planet’s species coexist.

“If, as Haraway and Margulis argue, the whole Earth is alive, it is time to abandon the myth of supremacy and reconnect with our many earthly companions.”, Maria Ptqk

The starting point for the exhibition “Science Friction. Life among Companion Species” is the scientific evidence that all terrestrial species are linked by symbiotic, interdependent relationships. In nature there are no autonomous or independent organisms; we are all part of mutually integrated ecosystems. Species make up a network of collaborations, mutations and exchanges in which we coexist as companions.

This paradigm shift implies that the human species is not exceptional or superior. Ultimately, symbiosis questions human supremacy: the idea that the whole of nature and all living beings are at the service of our well-being.

To narrate this change in perspective, the exhibition draws on the work of two key figures in contemporary scientific culture: Donna Haraway and Lynn Margulis. The two have in common the importance they accord to symbiosis and collaboration between species, and their interest in communication and scientific narrative.

Artists, thinkers, scientists and activists

The transition from anthropocentrism (a human-centred world view) to biocentrism (the human as part of an ecosystem) runs through the exhibition. The visitor will find a selection of artworks in different media, such as immersive audiovisual and sound installations, virtual reality, painting, drawing and avant-garde cinema, as well as items of scientific dissemination.

The exhibition curator, Maria Ptqk, has brought together a series of creators, thinkers and scientists from around the world who explore interspecies relationships and persuade us of the urgency of inventing other science f(r)ictions and fabular and speculative stories that expand the imaginable and help us place ourselves in the emerging interspecies paradigm.

The evolution of the rights of nature

The exhibition ends with Time-Life-Time by Jaime Serra (2021), an artistic installation produced specially for the show and dedicated to the Rights of Nature movement. According to these rights, animal and plant species, along with rivers, mountains, valleys and ecosystems, are to be protected for their intrinsic value, regardless of their usefulness to humans.

This installation, at once an epilogue and an independent part of the exhibition, is the author’s own highly personal review of the present-day trend in environmentalism in the form of some 30 pieces in various media and graphic supports (collage, photography and various objects). It is first of all a historical journey around the milestones that have marked the evolution of the rights of nature since the mid-20th century. Then, ironically and thought-provokingly, the author brings these milestones into dialogue with elements in the exhibition itself and others from popular culture and the media, tracing a journey of paradoxes and unexpected encounters.

The exhibition that will run at the CCCB completes a broader cycle of research started in 2017 with an exhibition produced by the virtual space of the Jeu de Paume Visual Arts Centre in Paris.

The exhibition has had the collaboration and scientific advice of Ricard Guerrero, Professor of Microbiology at the University of Barcelona, and Rubén Duro Pérez, scientific communicator.

In the framework of the City and Science Biennial 2021.

Inside the exhibition

Thinking Like an Octopus

Parts of the exhibition

Symbiosis

The exhibition opens with an introduction to the figure of Lynn Margulis (1938-2011). Margulis held that our bacterial origin and the entire history of life on Earth are based on symbiosis, the main engine of evolution. As opposed to the neo-Darwinian trend, which maintains that evolutionary changes come from competition between independent organisms, she offered a narrative featuring multitudes of interdependent beings, united at all scales of life.

With: Christie Lyons, Shoshanah Dubiner, David Domingo, John Feldman, Dominique Koch and Petra Maitz.

Companion species

Symbiosis literally means coexistence. In a broader sense, the term also refers to the common life of organisms that share a habitat or existence, and evolve together thanks to the bonds they form. This is why scientist Donna Haraway speaks of companion species when referring to bonds such as those created by insects with flowers, on which they feed and which they help to reproduce, or those that link human beings with some key plants and animals in the history of civilization.

With: Susana Talayero, Maria Sibylla Merian, Toni Serra/Abu-Ali, Gustafsson&Haapoja, Mary Maggic and Richard Pell / Center for PostNatural History.

Networks of biochemical consciousness

This part of the exhibition is dedicated to plants and fungi, paradigm cases of life in a network. Fungi fuse with animals, bacteria and plants, and create complex systems of exchange. Under the ground they distribute nutrients and in the undergrowth, together with insects and other microorganisms, they transform waste into a cycle of recycling. Plants capture the energy of the sun and offer it to other earth-dwellers and perceive light, humidity, gravity and electromagnetic fields, and it is estimated that they have our five senses as well as 15 more.

With: Dimas Paredes Armas, Marshmallow Laser Feast, Saša Spačal, Mirjan Švagelj, Anil Podgornik and Tadej Droljc, Quimera Rosa, Terence McKenna, Max Reichmann and Museo del Hongo.

Histories of origins

If we accept that symbiosis questions old anthropocentric conceptions, we can also reimagine the past, present and future of the history of the Earth and its beings. This section presents projects that speculate about other possible histories of the relationships between species, with particular emphasis on the case of the octopus, one of the emerging fields in the study of non-human intelligence.

With: Diana Toucedo, Donna Haraway and Vinciane Despret, Louis Bec, Marley Jarvis, Laurel Hiebert and Kira Treibergs, and Pinar Yoldas.

The natural contract

The exhibition concludes with a section dedicated to the rights of nature: animal and plant species, as well as rivers, mountains, valleys and ecosystems, protected for their intrinsic value, regardless of their usefulness to humans. The social contract that relegates the world to the status of an inert object must be replaced by a natural contract, open to a post-anthropocentric politics, beyond the human, that responds to the challenge of understanding life as a network of interdependencies.

With: Jaime Serra Palou, Paulo Tavares and Ernesto Casero.

The evolution of the rights of nature

By way of an epilogue, the exhibition presents Time-Life-Time (2021), a new artistic installation by Jaime Serra that journeys through the evolution of the rights of nature from the mid-20th century up until the present day. The milestones marking the movement strike up a dialogue with references from popular culture and the mass media, as well as with elements in the exhibition itself.

With: Jaime Serra Palou

Interviews

The visit to the exhibition incudes a series of interviews with representatives of culture, science and activism, such as Rubén Duro Pérez, Helen Torres, Paula Bruna, Associació Zuhari, Joan Martínez-Alier, Fabiola Leyton, Mercè Piqueras, Joan Romanyà and Ricard Guerrero.

 

Related contents

See all the content

The Limits of a World in Relation

Ignasi Torrent

A critical reflection on the limits of the conception of an interconnected cosmos in the Anthropocene era.

Read the article

Thinking Like an Octopus

Maria Ptqk

Several artists in the "Science Friction" exhibition tell us about their relationship with scientific knowledge and how they incorporate it into their creative strategies. Their voices, alongside other reference points in the exhibition, open up possible paths on the long journey of interaction between species.

Read the article

Programme of activities

Worlds of f(r)iction

Guided tour with the family and track game in the exhibition "Science Friction. Life between companion species"

Bio-Xeno

An introductory workshop to microbiology and biohacking, led by Gaia Leandra and Ce Quimera

Photographic report

Previous activities

What is life?

Open conversation with Alicia Kopf and Bego Vendrell

«Bioscope: Imaginary creatures» with your family

Workshop on the creation

The price of fruit

Itinerari created by Berni Puig and the seasonal fruit workers in Lleida

Thinking with the invasive species

A walk through the Llobregat Delta, with Christian Alonso and Vicky Benítez

Show more

Bioscope in the classroom

Training for teachers of documentary animation workshops

The symbiotic circle

With Agustín Ortiz Herrera and Jordi Moreno Romero

Living Together

Guided visit to the Xcèntric Archive

Sonic Fictions

Workshop led by Helen Torres

Game of Kin

A game to speculate on the future of life on Earth

Conversation with Donna Haraway and Vinciane Despret

Companion Species

Produced by

With the support of

Collaborators