Val Taleggio 30 maggio 2019 - 25 giugno 2019
NAHR 2019: Erbe & Pascoli

The Nature, Art & Habitat Residency: An ECO-Laboratory of Multidisciplinary Practice, located in the Taleggio Valley near Bergamo, Italy, is a summer program that aims to unfold and display a sensitive culture that responds to nature's needs and uses nature's insights as a source of inspiration and as measure of impacts on available resources. The ultimate goal of NAHR is to uncover intimate links between all living organisms in order to support more resilient development where humans and nature can successfully coexist.

2019 Topic

Grasses and Pastures: Imagining a Regenerative Economy of Cheese

Imagining a Regenerative Economy of Cheese

Nature finds itself under an unprecedented assault that demands urgent reconsideration in order to address the legacy of humans' destructive impacts. The linear productive and consumptive processes implemented by humans impose multiple, complex stresses on ecological cycles in both direct and indirect ways.

Increased awareness of environmental impacts due to the visible effects of climate change around the globe has generated a renewed interest in resilient solutions. Inspired by history and tradition, these solutions must take into account both current lifestyles and aspirations, and unprecedented technological advancements.

This year, NAHR looks at how multiple disciplines coming together can start to address, design, implement and respond to cyclical and seasonal economy. With the Taleggio Valley as case study, one is clearly aware of its largest assets: its biodiversity; its people; and the way the blending of these assets over centuries has generated a rich culture of cheese production - two of the most famous being Taleggio and Strachitunt. The "cheese chain" starts in the high pastures, where the grass is first processed by the animal stock. It then is followed by a cycle of local production and consumption, intertwined with the larger scale global economy that put Taleggio cheeses on the world map. The cycle should be understood holistically as a combination of natural, socio-cultural and economic conditions, and any other influences that one might identify. Components of the cycle include: the biodiversity of the soil, grasses and bacteria; lifecycle elements such as transhumance - the movement of the cattle from their winter location to the summer high pastures, and all the traditions connected to such movement of cattle and people; the structures which host the farmers and the cows, with their traditional stone roofs made with local shale; the cheese making and curing facilities; the form and shape of the cheese; all of the animals involved in the cycle, including the cattle (their gases and the use of manure as fertilizer), the people, and the other fauna who build the ecosystem of the Valley; and concluding with the commercialization of the cheese, and the gastronomy that emerges.

Today the cheese production, distribution and consumption cycle is far from being a circular economy. It is more of a hybrid model that combines the cyclical, traditional character of 'harvesting' the pastures with the more modern linear model of a production and distribution. While many of the elements for a fully circular economic cycle are present, the current system seems to be missing a focal point that would transform it into a fully circular and resilient economy.

NAHR 2019 proposes an exploration of the possible shift towards the cyclical, using an interdisciplinary approach that aims to explore the current situation, and to generate real solutions for real situations and problems. The projects can tackle either one segment of the cycle, or the overall system. Projects can comment on the current processes, or can explore potential changes. Centered on the example of the Valley, the lines of inquiry should aim for general applicability, using the Valley as inspiration for a scalable, transferable, and more universal model of addressing the complex question of linearity and cyclicity in human economic processes.

Linearity versus circularity are two theories of understanding time, space and motion. Some of the research questions we are interested in posing to our applicants include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • What does it mean to operate in cycles?
  • What regeneration is in today's disposable consumer society?
  • What can we ethically regenerate?
  • How are models or cycles of regeneration utilized in your respective disciplines/perspectives and what might it offer to others?
  • How will you address or speak to a particular question, and how will your work engage with finding an answer or posing new and unique lines of inquiry?
Why is the Taleggio Valley an ideal place for your work?

Energy - embodied and direct - and waste can be focus points of interest when looking at inputs and outputs of the lifecycle and restorative economy we aspire to achieve. Residents are invited to identify and develop imaginative ways to connect the elements present in the Valley which are part of the cheese system in order to identify and generate possible cycles in which energy and waste are balanced in a more resilient and efficient way. Depending on the DOMAIN of interest, proposed projects may draw on embodied knowledge to create a response in the form of dance material, art objects, creative writing, white papers, videos, performance pieces and/or documentation of research processes.

Experimental explorations that use concepts, theories or methodologies about a circular economy and lifecycle analyses as the framework for a forward thinking action are encouraged. Collaboration across disciplines is particularly encouraged. These explorations can be done in all mediums, and shared at the conclusion of the NAHR in forms including, but not limited to, dance performance, poetry recitation, promenade theatre, art installation, site-specific presentations etc.

Within this context, when making submissions, applicants must demonstrate the ways in which their projects will seek to engage with Val Taleggio as a shifting, multi-dimensional space in which local characteristics intersect global dynamics. Applicants should show how they intend to examine elements and ecosystems within the Val Taleggio, where the pasture itself is a particularly abundant resource on which the entire Valley's lifecycle depends.

This year's NAHR theme encourages applications which propose an inter- or trans-disciplinary approach across a range of creative forms and modes of expression, which might take the shape of designs, actions, events, and so forth, in which the use of pastures in the economy of the Valley remain a central and key element of the proposal. Projects proposing to observe the pastures with all its elements in both its natural and humanly altered states are especially encouraged.

Together with the NAHW (Workshop), NAHR participants will visit high and low pastures, walk across the mountains, attend dedicated lectures by specialists in the area, and be guided across the surrounding landscapes (natural and built), in order to explore local interconnections and contrast these with those in the neighboring valleys of Brembilla, Brembana, Seriana and Imagna. By offering the opportunity for site-specific investigations, NAHR encourages participants to explore interactions and relationships within the Valley's ecosystems. We seek to make possible a range of cross-disciplinary research and, in return for offering these opportunities, we expect NAHR fellows to complete culminating presentations (designs, actions, events, so forth) at the conclusion of their time in Val Taleggio.


NAHR is particularly invested in seeing proposals from applicants in which an artifact will be produced which expresses, in new and novel ways, the resiliency of nature across the following four domains:

  1. Regenerative Economy
    This approach encourages the study of local culture and production/exchange relations that extend to observations on local ecosystems in order to generate economic models based on concepts of restoration, regeneration and circularity. These models are ideally exportable to future developments at both local and global scales, promoting a resilient use of natural and cultural resources, and eliminating obsolete concepts such as waste and pollution.

  2. Bio-Inspired Design and Architecture
    The development and/or creation of projects and artifacts inspired by form, functions and processes found in the nature of the Valley.

  3. Body Performing Nature
    Artwork production and critical embodied investigations that articulate our relationship to nature, landscape, sustainability and ecology though creative movement of the human body. Proposals may include all types of embodied performances, dance, and site specific choreographies.

  4. Designed Futures, Technology & New Media
    The use of emerging technology tools/engines such as virtual and augmented reality, 3D printing, scanning, artificial intelligence, sensor-based systems, robotics, and simulations to investigate the shifting boundary between technology and nature, infrastructure and ecosystems.

    NAHR aims to involve bio-inspired, multi-disciplinary practitioners, academic and professional, from these fields:

    - Art Practices (across all platforms, mediums, modes, and materials)
    - Architecture / Design
    - Anthropology/Digital Humanities
    - Biology/Natural Sciences/ Ecology
    - Biomimicry
    - Ethno-botany
    - Economics
    - Gastronomy
    - Sustainability Studies
    - Technology and Computational Sciences
    - Visual Arts/Film/Liberal Studies

Duration of residency: May 30 - June 25 2019

Artist Accommodation: Provided Studio, One or Two Bedroom Apartment. Shared studio areas and open-air studio space provided upon request. (more details:
Number of artists resident at one time: Between 5 and 7.



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