Non-human regeneration, Tangible utopias


Alexia Venot et les etudiant.e.s Zoé Arnaud, Pauline Aubry, Antoine Behagel, Marianna Faleri, Séverine Luxerrois, Phi Lou-van


Alexia Venot is a designer and graduate of the Ecole des Arts Décoratifs de Paris (EnsAD). Through a reflexive practice of design and in particular of textiles, she is interested in the role of materiality and the impact that textile design can have on society. She participates in bringing together traditional know-how and more innovative processes by deploying, in context, new forms of collaboration and relationships materialized by objects, textiles or materials. Her projects, built in collaboration with different actors, set up imaginations, methods, processes or products by taking into consideration environmental and social issues, both local and global. Alexia Venot works in industry, publishing or in collaboration with artists. Between 2018 and 2020 Alexia Venot received four awards for her project "HAY & HUSK". Her work has been exhibited in France, the United Kingdom and Denmark.


The studio (transdisciplinary laboratory format over the year) "" is the result of a partnership between the Ecole des Arts Décoratifs and the Laboratoires d'Aubervilliers, a context where the relationships of individuals to the living are thought of in an urban environment, a place of hospitality, experimentation, sharing and encounter. The "" studio has given rise to a series of online meetings with artists, designers and curators exploring questions of the living through the prism of an eco-feminist approach. The "" collective set itself the goal of creating a mediation and transmission object that would put Kombucha, a fermented drink used for its probiotic virtues and edible plants in the city, in the context of the Laboratoires. The Action of this mobile object creates bridges between inhabitants, students, mediators and with the living in the urban environment. An educational bar to transmit stories, disseminate knowledge, and propose participative experiences with the public by working for a citizen pedagogy of care.

The Kombucha bar and invasive and medicinal plants - Collectif Set Design : ©Alexia Venot. image : ©Antoine Behagel

The Kombucha bar and invasive and medicinal plants - Collectif Set Design : ©Alexia Venot. image : ©Antoine Behagel

The Kombucha bar and invasive and medicinal plants - Collectif Set Design : ©Alexia Venot. image : ©Antoine Behagel

The Kombucha bar and invasive and medicinal plants - Collectif Set Design : ©Alexia Venot. image : ©Antoine Behagel

Edible plant maceration. image : ©Alexia Venot

Edible plant maceration. Image : ©Alexia Venot

Infused edible and medicinal flowers. image : ©Alexia Venot

The studio vivant & ville is part of the preparation of the exhibition Action Infinite creativity for a finite world, as part of the festival 100% à la Vilette, which will be held next April. This exhibition, initiated by Anna Bernagozzi, aims to "show the unique capacity of design, and in particular co-design, to connect, resonate, reveal and enhance modest and sober practices and solutions whose efficiency and resilience have been proven over time.

The "living & city" studio aims to "reappropriate" the city through the living and the living in the city from an eco-feminist point of view. We decided to propose a series of meetings to students, a research phase under the sign of "incubation" to prepare the ground and the actions of the exhibition. A second confinement was the opportunity to explore new pedagogical formats and to give the floor to artists, curators, researchers and designers to apprehend their work under the angle of "care", their embodied and emotional experiences.

We had the pleasure of welcoming Lucile Olympe Haute (artist and teacher-researcher); Carmen Bouyer (artist, educator, designer); Serina Tarkhanian (designer); Lilianna Motta (artist-botanist), the duo composed of anthropologist Marine Grand and artist Anaïs Tondeur, curators and podcaster Anne Bourrassé and Hélène Aguilar, Aniara Rodado (artist, choreographer, researcher), Phénix Brossard (actor), Kathleen Reilly (artist, craftsperson, designer) and industrial designer Arthur Donald Bouillé. These meetings took place in the form of interviews, presentations and workshops. The conversations, open to the public, were joined and enriched by Anna Bernagozzi (teacher, curator, theorist), Henriette Waal (artist, designer, teacher), Ines Geoffroy (exhibition programmer) and Eric Loret (journalist and critic). This studio was conceived to think about our relationship with the living, seen as a partner in urban care.

A question then emerged: how to apprehend the living, once again inaccessible? How do designers and witches approach the question of 'care' and their relationship to the living?

We have set up particularly stimulating online meetings. A way of observing and understanding the living without having access to the field. A privileged space, allowing us to remain in contact with the cultural scene for a few weeks. Meetings that are nevertheless at a distance, a distant relationship, relative because it is also intimate. An intimacy echoing the last intervention of the rencontres dedicated to fiction, in which Arthur Donald Bouillé intervened. In L'écume des jours, Boris Vian's character's relationship with cancer is played out through a metaphor of the living, the water lily grows in Chloé's lungs as the disease progresses. Arthur Donald Bouillé extends Vian's metaphor with Expérience de penser, three objects to help accompany cancer patients. The first object in the collection houses a tumour sample, with which the user is encouraged to interact: this relationship is manifested by a luminous response that varies according to the patient's voice. By putting technology at the service of healthcare, Arthur Donald Bouillé questions our relationship with the disease through the use of intermediary objects that establish an intimate framework for visualizing, materializing and perceiving cancer. For Arthur Donald Bouillé "It is a dialogue with oneself, with the other than human, the object is therefore a receptacle for the user's words as much as it plays the role of intermediary between the user and the embodiment of his illness". If it proposes new ways of apprehending pathology, through the sensitive and poetic medium, these objects of an ambiguous nature are also situated at the frontier of speculative and critical design, in the tradition of Dunne & Raby. These instruments are also a means of critiquing the asepticisation of medical devices and questioning the approach of the industrial designer and the wider Western techno-scientific culture.

This observation led to the research of the Canadian designer Serina Tarkhanian, for whom the medical institution imposes a passive and standardised relationship with the patient, the only ways of understanding medicine and knowledge existing under the control of scientific protocols and methods. His project co-healing: an institutional reform for caring with proposes a collective and participative experience of care. The lung microbiota exchange tool aims to enable a reciprocal and secure exchange between patients' microbiomes, where each person can become a donor and a recipient. His project is also a relevant way to rethink the experience of care through a social and relational design approach, favouring warm materials and colours that revive artisanal and ancestral forms and processes to renew the codes of a depersonalised laboratory aesthetic in force in hospitals. Si le design semble être un moyen de remettre en question l’appareillage médical et scientifique occidental, la sorcellerie est aussi un lieu d’expérimentation pour proposer des alternatives médicinales.

Aniara Rodado, artiste, chorégraphe et chercheuse envisage le soin par des expériences collectives et performatives. Sur le terrain du bio-hacking et de la sorcellerie domestique, Aniara Rodado, met en place des expériences où se jouent des relations multi-spécifiques et pluri-sensorielles. Son engagement poétique, politique et incarné envisage la décolonisation des corps et des plantes, depuis un positionnement trans-féministe. En collaborant avec le collectif Gynepunk, elle oeuvre à rendre accessible des savoirs gynécologiques et pour l’autonomisation des corps féminins de l’industrie pharmaceutique. Dans le cadre de sa thèse de doctorat, par le réveil de connaissances Maya ancestrales des plantes, Aniara Rodado propose des alternatives aux soins gynécologiques, avec notamment la crème pour voler. La reconnaissance de savoirs alternatifs, non labellisés ou sorciers, permet de redéfinir nos alliances au vivant à travers des pratiques, et aussi des moyens d’expression plus égalitaires. L’héritage lexical des sciences modernes participe aussi à une mise à distance quant à la relation établie avec les autres espèces.

Dans cette dynamique, par les formats qu’elle propose (des outils numériques aux espaces performatifs), Lucile Haute renouvelle le lexique de la sorcellerie en mobilisant son contenu narratif et politique. Son Manifeste des cybersoricères et ses rituels néo-païen deviennent le support d’un activisme techno-féministe animiste. Le travail de Lilianna Motta oeuvre également à faire évoluer les sciences du vivant vers un lexique plus inclusif. Liliana Motta, participe d’une écologie relationnelle en œuvrant pour la protection et la conservation des polygonomes, ces plantes rhizomiques mises à l'index par leur taxonomie , considérées comme « invasives » ou « mauvaises herbes ». Si nous devons être attentifs à faire évoluer les outils, instruments, et termes pour approcher le care et le vivant, « ce qui est salvateur c'est que dans les formes d’enquête, les sciences ont simultanément inventé des styles de savoirs qui sont d’un autre ordre : des savoirs qui restitue au vivant leur animation intrinsèque, des savoirs réanimant. C’est d’eux que nous avons besoin dans une culture du vivant : des savoirs qui se tressent aux autres dimensions de la sensibilité, de la pensée, et de la pratique ».

Les supports d’expression peuvent participer à une émancipation des vivant·es et redéfinir les hiérarchies associées. Le rituel, le manifeste ou la fiction sont autant à convoquer pour créer de nouvelles alliances. Des modes de survies collectifs et interspécifiques faisant écho au Chtulucène De Donna Haraway, philosophe des sciences et biologiste, un concept où le biologique, le technologique, humains, non-humains cohabitent grâce à de nouvelles associations.

Par la réappropriation des termes, des savoirs, des instruments, les designer·euses et sorcières peuvent contribuer au développement de pratiques plus inclusives et plus empathiques, dans le but de reconsidérer, retisser, nos relations au vivant et à la manière de penser et soigner les vivant·es. En devenant porte-parole de cette réappropriation, il·elle·s peuvent ainsi participer à modifier le lieu d’une destruction , comme être modifié·es par cette réappropriation .

Référénces :

Boris Vian, L’écume des jours, le livre de poche, 1996.
Emilie Hache, Reclaim, recueil de textes écoféministes
choisis et présentés par Emilie Hache, Cambourakis, 2016.
Baptiste Morizot, Nouer culture des luttes et culture du vivant,
Socialter, hors-série n°9, 2021.
Starwhak, Rêver l’obscur : femmes, magie et politique, Cambourakis, 2015.
Donna Haraway, Staying with the Trouble :
Making Kin in the Chtulucene,
Duke University Press, Durham, North Carolina, 2016.
Anthony Dunne & Fiona Raby,
Design, Fiction, and Social Dreaming, The MIT Press

  1. Baptiste Morizot, Nouer culture des luttes et culture du vivant, Socialter, hors-série n°9, 2021.