Valley of the Possible
Valley of the Possible invites all artists, scientists, activists, agriculturists, botanists, chefs and other thinkers and makers with an interest in agriculture, food systems and biodiversity for an interdisciplinary research program and residency period in the Cañon del Blanco valley, La Araucanía Andina, southern Chile.
In May 2019, their initial pilot project began to articulate all the various layers in which the valley is situated, including its historical, social, ecological, geographical and political contexts. Based on that exploration and its outcomes, they now direct the second research program to focus on the creation of regenerative and reciprocal knowledge-sharing, departing from the natural order of things and guided by local and indigenous ways of interacting with the biotic community.
Within both a global and local context characterized by huge climatic shifts and ecological catastrophe, we need to learn how to live with the earth in a way that is restorative instead of destructive, whilst at the same time creating resilient communities that are able to adapt to sudden changes. The question then arises: how do we imagine living on a worldwide scale whilst also fostering a hyperlocal connection to our community and ecosystem? Or in Bruno Latour’s words, how can we be capable of ‘attaching oneself to the soil on the one hand, becoming attached to the world on the other?’
Black Earth: cultivating biodiversity
The 2022 research program at Valley of the Possible draws inspiration and hope from a phenomenon called Terra Preta (Black Earth): a discovery that gives rise to the likelihood of parts of the Amazon Rainforest being a carefully constructed environment instead of a pristine wilderness. The hypothesis posits that the abnormally black and fertile earth found scattered around was created by the patient persistence and techniques of Indigenous cultures to maintain the fertility of one of the most vulnerable and important ecosystems on earth. An example of thoughtful human planning and landscape design evolving throughout thousands of years. Resilient communities and biodiversity is what the world needs right now and more than ever they see the necessity to repair the threads that connect us to community and to the natural world in new thought provoking ways.
For the duration of the full 6-week period, Valley of the Possible will organise a tailor-made program: with the first two weeks being immersive and guided, and the last four weeks predominantly self-guided. This program consists of various trips into the valley as well as surrounding areas and (Indigenous) communities, visiting examples of gardens, national parks and ecological reserves guided by biologists, farmers, chefs and specialists from local universities.
It also features guest lectures and workshops by Indigenous seed keepers, wild food (edible plants and fungi) foragers, regenerative agriculture experts, philosophers, artists, Mapuche and Pehuenche leaders and community spokespeople. They will screen relevant documentaries about Mapuche, Pehuenche and Chilean culture, as well as supply a small library of relevant books. In addition to the program, they offer access and introductions to a broad network of art and science institutions and universities in Chile, Latin America and The Netherlands. After the immersive program period, there is time and freedom to deepen your practice, work on your own projects and to go on self-guided trips in the area.
Read more about the open call here.
Valley of the Possible does not seek specific outcomes. However, following Indigenous cosmology and the guiding principle of reciprocity, the organizers ask the participants to focus their research by examining what this place needs, or what they can add, instead of what they can take from it. They ask (though do not demand) the participants to consider dedicating a few hours per week to the earth and community they will become part of.
Valley of the Possible is a research-based residency program, they do not provide any studio or workspace. Each room has a desk and there is a simple rustic barn with basic tools. Participants do have access to a communal livingroom and a café.
Participants are hosted in a mountain lodge on a small farm located on several hectares of privately owned land. The lodge provides five basic rooms (private or shared), with comfortable beds, linens and towels, small working desks and heating in each room. Bathrooms are shared. The lodge also offers a communal kitchen, living room with fireplace and a collection of books. A fogón (traditional Chilean communal fireplace), a café and sandwichería, stables, laundry room and a primitive barn are also part of the property. There is free access to the local thermal hot springs.
From the grounds of the accommodation, participants have direct access to native forest, hot springs, geysers, and the Rio Blanco, with mineral water that springs from the adjacent Sierra Nevada volcanic mountain range. Private paths lead over the Sierra Nevada into Conguillío National Park, accessible with a guide. There is a very limited phone signal and NO WIFI at the accommodation.
The physical location is in the valley Cañon del Blanco, a remote and secluded valley in La Araucanía Andina in Southern Chile, surrounded by spectacular volcanic landscapes with a high level of biodiversity.
From the grounds of the accommodation, participants have direct access to hundreds of hectares of native forest, several hot springs, geysers, and the Rio Blanco, with mineral water that springs from the adjacent Sierra Nevada volcanic mountain range.