Exploring Interspecies Temporality (with Tarsh Bates)
In the context of the global honeybee crisis, there is perception that we are running out of time. The race is on to save the bees and ourselves. Albert Einstein is rumoured to have claimed that “if the bee disappeared off the surface of the globe then man [sic] would only have four years of life left. No more bees, no more pollination, no more man [sic].” This presentation describes an artistic research project by Tarsh Bates and Sue Hauri-Downing that explores ideas of multispecies agency in the space/time entanglements between humans and the European honey bee Apis mellifera. This ongoing project traverses the globe, investigating historical and material bee/human naturecultures in Australia and Switzerland, combining sculpture, performance, evolutionary biology and ethnography to understand interspecies agency, ecology and place. The 'busy bee' has long been considered by humans to be a metaphor of industry and efficiency. Strangely however humans in contemporary technologically rich societies seem to be increasingly time poor. Industrialization does not seem to have made us more efficient. In fact this project has shown that having to engage, research and perform at the pace of the 'busy bee' forces us to slow down; to shift into bee time. This paper explores the challenges and complications of our attempts to shift into bee time, to understand (and fail to understand) the material affects of interspecies space/time.
Susan Hauri-Downing is an Australian artist living in Switzerland. She is interested in Biocultural diversity, Biopolitics, Solastalgia and the Intricacy of interspecies relationships. Her work includes explorations of the personal and cultural implications of the global cultivation of native and foreign plant species, including aesthetics; ties to ‘home’; food security; traditional food availability; materials for artifacts; and medicines.
from our workshop on Power, Time and Agency held in Manchester, January 2013