Boundaries of Sustainability
During the residency, the artists Szymon Kula and Jennetta Petch continue their research around the boundaries of sustainability of artistic production by developing an ongoing project that was started in rural France, in Embrun, over the winter of 2020. It is carried out by the investigation of how one can use materials to adapt to the chaos of the environmental crisis and what materials can do to help us to exist and even thrive in a chaotic world as well as how making can provide a sense of structure in time and space.
The artists reflect around ecological methodologies of production and deepen their research around the notion of hauntology in relation to craft and ruralism. As Adam Harper concludes his discussion of hauntology: “Hauntological art is a present-day construction that illustrates the present’s problems as it approaches the future” (Harper, 2009).
Kula & Petch's current practice confronts the challenges of the anthropocene through considering the multilayered nature of rural environments where different eras often coexist in complex ecosystems and layers of ancient traditions and modern practices mutate into new lifestyles. The technological advancements implemented in the rural areas result in more visible contrasts than those introduced in the urban environment. As a consequence, the deeply established rhythm of life in coexistence with nature meets with latest innovations in robotic farming and factory production. In Hollabrunn the artists explore these areas of encounters between advanced technologies and deep past materialisms. This pairing of dystopian futuristic scenarios with these preserved and proven ancient processes creates a portal where different layers of time can exist and interact in one moment, through a place or context.

Contemporary Art Centre Les Capucins, Embrun, France, 2021

The artists consider speculative futures where both preservation and innovation can coexist peacefully as well as alternative darker possibilities. The research serves as a backdrop for practical experimentation, where Kula & Petch combine deadstock materials and readymades. They use modern technical fabrics and carbon fibre components used in modern robotics alongside traditional weaving and knitting materials such as wicker and wool. The logic of saving resources is a contemporary issue that they want to prioritise. There is often a scenographic or immersive aspect to their work where they create props to stimulate ideas around subjects such as ecology and ruralism.
At AIR InSILo Kula & Petch expand the vocabulary of ancient processes and modern techniques that they use in the installations. They research local techniques and incorporate them into their practice, creating hybrid objects that are a product of different localities, difficult to anchor in a particular time period, drawing on historical references from a perspective of the future.
The special focus is put on upcycling, recycling and repurposing to create multilayered installations.