EXPEDITION EMPATHY 
Curated with The Decorators
Walk & Talk Festival
Azores, 2019

With the contribution of:  Clementine Keith-Roach, Inês Neto dos Santos, Pedro Lino & Philippe Lanzini, Practice Architecture, Prem Sahib, Rain Wu.

Many of the foreign descriptions of Azores were written in the context of expeditions, by rationalist minds in tune with the spirit of Enlightenment, in the 19th century. They classify and categorize plants, animals, landscapes and peoples of the islands. But not all dimensions can be measured by rational systems. The magnetic properties of rocks, the tremors of the earth, the impending ascent of the roaring lava, are events that defy logical scales, occurrences that can hardly be predicted. They escape rational systems of thought. Myths or rituals, scared or profane, perhaps best capture the strength and magnitude of such events.

Our expedition, unlike those of the 19th century, was interested in such immeasurable, irrational, unintelligible phenomena. Taking an approach grounded on empathy, it wanted to merge instead of measure, to personify rather than classify, to live and not to explain. Azores was populated by humans in the 14th century and since then humans have tried to domesticate it. But this is not a landscape to be lived on. This island expelled thousands when a volcano erupted in the 16th century. This is a precarious agreement between land and humans.

The rational thought that came to dominate the world in the 19th century is today recognized as deeply connected with global processes of industrialization, and consequently, global warming. Climate change is a phenomena produced by human hands and minds, and one in which certain humans of take a position of privilege and power in relation to other species and other peoples. Inspired by Michel Serres’ positioning of natural beings as entities with legal rights, in a time when the sublime is no longer possible because we cannot watch nature from a distant position of safety (Bruno Latour), we took this opportunity to make an expedition that rethinks our current relationship with nature and and rehearses alternative approaches.




Graphic design by Vivóeusébio