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In Symbiosis, ideas, experiences and different areas of knowledge meet in an ongoing experiment. Through meetings between research, art, architecture and much more Symbiosis aims to imagine, test and reflect upon symbiotic thinking.

The term symbiosis comes from Greek and can be translated as "living with". The original meaning is a biological cohabitation where two organisms are mutually dependent on each other, sometimes even for their survival.

Symbiosis is increasingly used when talking about interaction between different systems. This can be, for example, how social structures, communications, the environment and biodiversity interact in urban planning.

What happens when we apply "symbiosis" as a model of thought when adressing our present and future challenges?

During recent  years,  Symbiosis has been developed in dialogue with researchers, artists and others.

In the autumn of 2020, the artist group Gylleboverket exhibited a suggestive site-specific room installation.

On Aug. 28th 2021, we will open the doors to to an exciting and variable exhibition that also serves as a workshop space and place for meetings, conversations and discussion.

The Symbiosis-exhibition is open August 28 - November 28, 2021!

Detail from installation piece, John Jakobsson

Why Symbiosis?

"Symbiotic thinking" can be used to tackle many broad challenges. Challenges which in turn are directly and indirectly linked to one another. Individually, man's various systems, such as cities, trade, production and transportation, can be enthralling and well-functioning, but together they often compete both amongst each other and with the planet's own fragile systems.

In 2018, after the hot summer and the large-scale forest fires in Sweden, we gained a strong and clear experience that also we here in the north are vulnerable and that climate change is affecting us. That the effects will be a world with political turbulence and ongoing ecological disasters. The insight has become even clearer during the ongoing pandemic. An entire world is affected. It has had enormous consequences that will shape us for a long time to come. In light of the plethora of great challenges in our time, we must ask ourselves: What kind of world are we passing on to future generations? We need to create the conditions for alternative thoughts and ideas to emerge.

Man has the potential to not only parasitize on the unique planet the earth is. We need to develop self-healing and adaptable systems, societies and cultures, based on compassion and knowledge rather than on ever-accelerating consumption and exhaustion of limited resources.

Can an art space somehow contribute, inspire hope and create new ways for orientation in this confused time? Can art and other forms of cultural expression be integrated with research? We believe so and have therefore initiated the project we call Symbiosis. Färgfabriken has created a forum where meetings, clashes and cross-fertilizations occur.

In order to formulate ideas and visions for a good and hopeful future, we must begin to think, research and collaborate across borders - visible and invisible. We therefore want to discuss and test all kinds of possible and impossible symbiotic contexts in a non-prestigious and creative way. Our ambition is that it gives the audience an opportunity to think and reflect on different dimensions of our complex existence.

From the exhhibition


In Symbiosis, together with many others, we have reflected on various issues and themes that help us identify different inputs and symbiotic relations. We also drew inspiration from our owh archives.

Ecological evolution and designed systems

We have learned a lot about how nature's systems and building blocks work. At the same time, we parasitize on nature. Much of what evolution has created over billions of years, humans have affected and broken down in just a few decades. We have now begun to recreate and simulate ecological systems. Being human has always been about defining and influencing one's surroundings. Ecological projects are now needed on various scales that recreate the nature that humans have stolen. How will we be able to handle these challenges when planning our cities around the world?

In the exhibition Experiment Stockholm (2015), Luis Berríos-Negrón with his family along with animals, plants and many guests staged a full-scale artistic experiment - Earthscore Specularium - which practically (by actually living in the work of art) and philosophically investigated how we can live in cities of the future with challenges such as pollution, lack of resources and climate change. How do we enable more symbiostic relationships with other people, beings and plants? In the seminar the Stockholm Biotope, we learned more about the overlap between nature and the city's infrastructure.


The hidden landscapes

"Hinterlands" can be found in the field of tension between the what is left over, the unseen and the imaginative. What are the "hinterlands" of today? There is a rapid development of the borderland between the urban and the countryside. This borderland can be a landscape near a big city or a remote area incorporated into the global economy. These places are in a symbiotic relationship with the city and the countryside. The border sites are used for new housing, utilization of natural resources or constructions for the "new digital economy", like server halls. We pass by these places but rarely note them.

The concept of "Hinterland" has served as a starting point for a collaboration with the Nationalmuseum, which is shown in the exhibition Arcadia - a paradise lost.

An intertwined planet

In a short time, our existence has gone from living in isolated groups and clans on the savannah to becoming civilizations based on systems that are complexly intertwined around our entire planet. This has created a strong yet fragile "cobweb" of relationships and structures that affect each other. In their daily lives people are dependent on goods and services that origin around the world. Economic and political systems are interdependent in sophisticated but also contradictory ways. Their inner powers are both positively and negatively charged. Trade and mutual cooperation create trust and prosperity at best. But disputes over who has the initiative for change and changes in the equilibrium of power cause conflicts.

The contradictory human

Are we aware that the survival of our species depends on countless symbiosis that create balance between different beings and life forms? How can we maintain our compassion and dignity in a world that is becoming increasingly polarized and unpredictable? To be human is to exist in an ever-changing state - we are both impulse-driven and reflective. There are many examples of how technological development may prolong our lives. What do we do with this time? Digital systems create new opportunities to communicate with and understand the world, but there is also concern that technology could take over and thet we become its "slaves".

In the project
Psychosis, we turn to art to deepen our understanding of the human psyche and our social relationships. Part one - I Will Never Talk About the War Again - was about how the self dissolves like an effervescent tablet in a collective trauma, while part two used the symptoms of psychosis as a starting point to talk about the transformations of the self.
   How is the human psyche, life and our societies and cities affected by an exponential curve of change in our civilization due to the digital revolution? It was investigated in the project Expanded Societies. The exhibition Between Realities examined what it is like to be human in a rapidly changing world, where technology is constantly changing and affecting both our behaviors and perceptions of our existence.

A prerequisite for all life

Our world is intertwined across national borders through oceans, lakes, rivers and small streams of water. Water is a symbiotic element. A prerequisite for life. (Scientists now believe that there is water both on the moon and inside the celestial body Pluto). How can multiple perspectives on water create positive holistic world views? Water is connected to many aspects of life, such as the illusion of control, the modernist view of the city, cleanliness, food, industry, population growth, disasters, conflicts, migration, recreation, biology and many others.

In the exhibition Stockholm on the Move, one of the scenarios that were showcased had the title "Stockholm water commons". In Experiment Stockholm, the project Maretopia was shown, led by the artist Jens Evaldsson, who investigates the potential that exists in Stockholm's waters, through co-creative activities and based on the idea of a floating cultural and ecovillage.

The Symbiosis-autumn of 2021

Exhibition August 28 - November 28

The ambition of the exhibition, which will be presented in Färgfabriken's main hall, is to make visible how artists, architects and researchers approach the concept of "symbiosis" based on different themes. An imaginative, inspiring and thought-provoking exhibition that opens our minds to how complex and fascinating our world is, while at the same time providing a reasoning about challenges and opportunities in our rapidly changing time.

Exhibition folder

Feel free to read the exhibition folder! It will be updated with new material at irregular intervals. Folder # 1.

Seminars, workshops and talks

Talks, lectures, discussions and workshops take place throughout the exhibition period, in the exhibition room itself, in Färgfabriken's project room and in the penthouse. Different groups of researchers, representatives from business and the public sector as well as artists and architects will reflect on the concept of "symbiosis". Of course, the format and nature of the activities are adapted to the status of the pandemic and the recommendations that apply at the time of the event. All seminars and presentations are documented and made available here on the website.


Tove Kjellmark, artist
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Tove Kjellmarkwas born 1977 and is based in Stockholm. She is initially trained as a sculptor and have since developed a multi-facetted and experimental artistic practice, which encompasses several different media and materials. Kjellmark is edsucated at École des beaux arts and The Royal Institute of Art in Stockholm.

Could you tell us more about your artistic practice?
The work I do manifests both physically and conceptually, and places itself in the glitch between the digital and the organic, the past and the future. Since graduating I’ve exhibited regularly both in Sweden and internationally. Apart from my studio practice, I lecture, mentor and collaborate with humans and non-humans of various types.

My work can be described as visual decoction of forms and structures from the complex world in which we live. I am currently looking at the glitches in transformations between the digital and the organic; the gaps in experience when moving from one world to another.

The work I do has been recognized for creating spaces of critical reflection about the techno-scientific acceleration, artworks that ask questions about the nature of human and nonhuman agency in a highly indoctrinated post-human world. Over a longer period of time I've dealt with technoanimalism, giving rise to another type of animality, another type of nature but above all very delicately playing the affects of the involved audience.

ToveKjellmark Inside960x640Still from the film "Inside".

Whhat are your associations around the concept and word Symbiosis?

The word symbiosis is usually easily explained as a biological interaction where two organisms live together in a close relationship with some kind of effect, either positive or negative. Through my work, I seek to shift our focus from that kind of outdated way of binary thinking, to a more rhizomatic perspective. Rhizome was developed as a philosophical concept by Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari. Rhizome is what Deleuze calls an "image of thought", based on the root system of some plants. These plants tend to be difficult to eradicate, as the root system remains even if the plant is removed. The system can grow in different directions, while an ordinary tree root branches off at the ends and everything goes back to the trunk root. As a model for culture, is a rhizome characterized by ceaselessly established connections between semiotic chains, organizations of power, and circumstances relative to the arts, sciences, and social struggles. Rather than narrativize history and culture, the rhizome presents history and culture as a map or wide array of attractions and influences with no specific origin or genesis, for a rhizome has no beginning or end; it is always in the middle, between things, interbeing, intermezzo.'

For me, a rhizomatic perspective gives a more authentic picture of how reality is entangled, multifaceted, in constant motion and transformation and can develop in different ways.  A non-hierarchical structure that propagates in all directions and invites to a variety of uses, re-functions and inoculations.

If we take our public rooms as a starting point and, for example, ask ourselves whether it is possible to make an ecosystem visible to itself?: Everyone has a right to public spaces, this is where people meet and where you go to get in contact with the unexpected. Mosses, fungi, insects and other small plants are frequent colonisers of any new territory, including human-built structures. While ecology exists within a city, large parts of these ecosystems and our interdependency with these microorganisms; how they clean our close environment and us over time, remain unnoticed to the general public.

Some call this “biodiversity blindness”.  While biodiversity may impact people’s attitudes subconsciously, the sad fact is that most folks don’t know much about the other organisms with whom they share their cities. To a lot of eyes, vegetation is just an undifferentiated mass of green and all those critters with six legs are just anonymous pests.

The same applies if we focus on digital development. We shape our technologies and our technologies shape us. But how aware are we of this symbiosis really?


Irene Stracuzzi, designer
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Irene Stracuzzi (b. 1992, Italy) is a graphic designer based in Amsterdam and teaches in the master departments at Design Academy Eindhoven. Specialising in graphic design, art direction and information design, she works independently as well as collaboratively for clients in the fields of art and culture. Her research practice aims at translating complex findings into accessible visual formats, reflecting on the role of design as a critical tool to share knowledge.

Who are you?
I am a graphic and information designer fascinated by cartography. Through historical, scientific and technological research processes, I investigate how maps shape the perception of reality, exposing the unacknowledged influence of their makers. In particular, my current interest is in the climate crisis, due to the misinformation and lack of understanding of the general public when confronted with conflicting theories, politicised legislation, isolated data points and anecdotal experience. My ambition as a designer is to facilitate the understanding of such complexity through accessible visual formats, and to turn design research and mapping practices into frameworks for mobilisation.

What are your spontaneous thoughts about "symbiotic thinking"?
I interpreted 'symbiotic thinking' as a metaphor for collective action towards a common goal. In my understanding of it, thinking could be symbiotic if the different thoughts complement each other in terms of knowledge, experience or viewpoint. I like the concept of 'symbiosis' because it involves the idea of plurality and mutual benefit.

Gülbeden Kulbay, artist
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Gülbeden Kulbay expresses her work through performance and community art. As an international artist, she works with the theme Humanity where she produces body-based performances. The works invite the spectator to see new perspectives on what it can mean to be human in a capitalist society. She also works with educational work and with consultations for artists in artistic processes. By leading workshops for young and adults in the methods of performance art, she wants to encourage participants to encourage awareness between mind, body and soul with the aim of preserving reason, physical intelligence and strength.

Who are you?

I am a Turkish woman, mother and artist

I love humans and their brilliance

I get angry at oppression and inequality

I live in everything between these points

In motion

In the line

In the lying eight


What are your spontaneous thoughts about the concept of "symbiosis" and the project Symbiosis?
I look forward to exploring and creating based on this artistic process that we are in together. Right now I think that the concept of Symbiosis is the symphony and harmony that results from the state that arises from our symbiotic being in the universe. I also think about the idea that we are not symbiotic right now, and that it this is the place we are constantly striving for. Our carrot. But maybe we are already there. In a symbiosis. It's just that our senses have not caught up because of the hereditary survival strategy.


Picture: Open my heart, 2017, Venice, Italy.


Bengt Håbro, artist
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Tell us about your artistic practice.
My art is about visually translating the experiences and feelings that nature gives me. During many years as a painter, I have primarily been interested in form and volume. In recent times, movement and spaciousness have become increasingly important and my images have moved into three dimensional space in the form of sculptures and mobiles.

Do you have any spontaneous associations with the concept of symbiosis?
Cooperation, reciprocity, dependency, organic, living, together, inseparable.

Bengt Håbro was born in 1951, grew up in Stockholm, lives and works in Österlen in Skåne.

LABLAB, think-tank
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LABLAB is a transdisciplinary think tank with a focus on research and design at the intersection of community planning, architecture, communication and cross-sectoral collaboration. LABLAB's methodology is based on developing supportive development processes, evaluations and knowledge transfer through cross-border collaborations between the municipality, region, business and academia. Building on existing knowledge, LABLAB's work process identifies, manages and communicates significant societal changes and issues that affect global rural areas today and in the future. The cross-border method is based on a site-specific and inclusive process.

In Symbiosis, LABLAB examines the relationship between landscape and the green energy transition. What happens to the landscapes when more and more green electricity is to be extracted to secure economic growth and sustain our consumption habits? In the German city of Lusatia, we see not only the brutal traces in the landscapes after the industrial coal extraction, but also how the new green technology is incorporated as an obvious part of the place. Lignite fields, solar panels and wind farms are neighbours in Lusatia and remind us of the climate crisis, but also of the need to re-evaluate the nostalgic and rationalist relationship to landscape. The landscapes in the wake of the climate crisis should regain their obvious symbiotic role, in the landscape that begins where the human gaze ends.

Mattias Höjer, scientist & Jens Evaldsson, artist
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Art of rules

In Art of Rules, we have used a legal framework as a point of departure. Frameworks connect some things and exclude others. This has been made clear vis-à-vis the framework we have been working with - the EU Emissions Trading System - which on the one hand ties certain types of activities together and on the other excludes them from other activities and other geographies. We were fascinated by how the framework was worded so precisely while having the impossible task of geographically limiting emissions, and how incomprehensible it all is - the simple foundational ideas and their unavoidable consequences. This framework has created conditions for a trading system where deliberations are made following game theory. That is to say, the actions of one actor will determine the outcome of the actions of another. This is one reason why the framework is so difficult to analyse, which leads us to another point of interest, namely the relationship between the comprehensibility of the written framework and democracy.

During long, initial discussions, we talked about the possibility of making art out of legal frameworks, why we should do it and in which format. By choosing to create this work in the form of an animated movie, we could play with the relationship between word and image, where words lie closer to the framework itself while images create associations to its physical consequences.

The knowledge necessary for creating the artwork was generated by studio discussions with artists and experts on the emissions trading system. Through these discussions, we have distilled ideas and associations into both text and image and brought them together. Certain images and parts of texts were rather literal to begin with, but they have been successively scaled down to open up and allow for the viewer’s own interpretation.

Parallelly to work on the film, Ebba Landén Helmbold from LABLAB created posters with us about the emissions trading scheme that will also be exhibited at Symbiosis.

Thank you to the four experts on EU ETS for their valuable comments during our studio discussions: Fredrik Hannerz (Head of Unit for Emissions Trading, Naturvårdsverket), Isabella Lövin (former Minister of Climate and Environment), Magnus Nilsson (environmental consultant), Lars Zetterberg (programme officer, Mistra Carbon Exit, IVL) and Rut-Karin Zettergren (artist). Thank you to Hugo Bernhard (music producer) for the sound design.

Art of Rules and the accompanying posters have been financed by Mistra and Kungliga Tekniska Högskolan.

Mattias Höjer is a professor at Environmental strategies and Future studies at KTH. He is interested in digitization, construction and infrastructure, based on future studies for sustainable development.  

Jens Evaldsson is an artist with long experience of collaborative projects. He has participated in exhibitions around the world with works that are often about human behavior and social interactions. The working method is varied and broad, often within what is known as do-it-yourself or the maker culture.


Official information about the EU Emissions Trading System can be found here.

Image: sketch from the process, Jens Evaldsson

DACE - Dance Art Critical Ecology
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Dance Art Critical Ecology
(Rickard Borgström & Rebecca Chentinell)

The curators Rickard Borgström and Rebecca Chentinell are launching a new platform for curatorial and choreographic work. The platform will explore post-anthropocentric world views and various ideas by inviting artists who work with their bodies in various ways. This will be done through an intertwining and exploration of different ecologies as well as paraphrases of dance, choreography, and contexts. Through artistic practices the consequences of our actions are explored through political, technological, and environmental perspectives.

The collaboration will operate in Färgfabriken’s project rooms as part of Färgfabriken's Open studio program of fall 2021. Together with two international artists, both working with the body and queer methods to create transgressive relationships, they will expand our understanding of human ecology, in a project called Symbiosis - Erotics.

One of the invited artists are Zheng Bo (b. 1974, Beijing, lives and works on Lantau Island, Hong Kong). Zheng is committed to more-than-human vibrancy; he investigates the past and imagines the future from the perspectives of marginalized communities and marginalized plants. He creates weedy gardens, living slogans, eco-queer films, and wanwu workshops to cultivate ecological wisdom beyond the Anthropocene extinction.

During Symbiosis – Erotics Zheng examine an eco-queer-sexual dance method together with five dancers where intimacy between man and plant is conditioned in a Nordic ecology and context. The sexuality and agency of man as well as plants are exercised as dance-scores, where humans and plants are considered dancers (although plants may dance very slowly), where they rely on their bodies and movements for interaction, charged with desire, lust, erotic and ethics.

Rickard Borgström [FI] curator/dramaturg/writer, works in the intersection of contemporary art, dance, and theatre. Primarily active in the Nordic region at various institutions.

Rebecca Chentinell [SE] Curator / Choreographer / Dancer / Editor, works investigatory and in alternative ways in order to produce and present dance and choreography, through both dance and visual art. She is active in multiple collaborations and several institutions.

Photo: Ylva Sundgren

The NATURE-project, KTH
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Foto: Sumit Vij

KTH's research project NATURE examines relationships between nature and society through urban infrastructure with a focus on water. Concepts such as abundance, dependence, control, nature, leakage, symbiosis / parasitism, decay and technosphere are used as a starting points in the project where new knowledge is gathered about water supply and the systems we humans build ourselves into.

Historically, the modern infrastructure ideal has dominated the imagination of engineers and planners. As a consequence, cities' water and sanitation networks consisting of pipes, pumps and reservoirs have largely been built in the same way all over the world. Cities around the globe are now experiencing challenges that require new ways of imagining future urban infrastructures and water supply. The project combines theoretical insight with empirical work in Guwahati (India) Stockholm (Sweden) and Kampala (Uganda).

For the Symbiosis exhibition, the topic of "water as a symbiotic element" is broadened and deepened, through interdisciplinary meetings with a special focus on artistic expressions and methods, in a creative collaboration with Färgfabriken and the artist Åsa Cederqvist.

Åsa Cederqvist, artist
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Foto: Lisa Björk

Tell us about your artistic practice.
My practice is based on an interest in that which is under constant construction and creation. I am interested in material and mental transformations, changes and profound emotions. Both how ideas and materials change, as well as how our views are constantly updated.

The careless anthropocene and patriarchal worldview we have taken for granted needs to be shifted and land in a more humble post-humanist perspective. We must wake up and become aware! Become less machine- and algorithm-controlled and move towards solidarity. We need to use our creative, tactile and emotional intelligence more.

How do you put this into practice?
My work is expressed in an interface between film, sculpture, photography, drawing, sound, spatial installations and performance.

AsaCederqvist Civilization the Pleasure Principle Still
2013 AsaC Civilization The Pleasure Principle1 kopiaStills from Civilization – The Pleasure Principle

For the Symbiosis exhibition, I have reconnected with a work I started in 2013 when I wanted to investigate the demarcation between purity and dirt, both from a mental and physical perspective. I have also been interested in our behaviors, as well as the human body and water. The body as a kind of transactional channel between nature and civilization, between the rational and the emotion-driven, between desire, carelessness, commerce and our primitive instincts. Water as a resource and as a material, which contains both toxins, dirt, human waste and the elixir of life. Without water no life. In Sweden we are very spoiled and few of us have encountered a dried up well or experienced toxins in our waters these days. Behaviors, for example how repressing forbidden thoughts means that we repress human nature again and again, and act as if what is not visible does not exist. Much of our intricate systems for water supply and water purification are taken for granted.

During the past six months, I have spent time with The Water Centre at KTH and familiarised myself with their research and will continuously be in dialogue with their research project NATURE during the work before and during the exhibition.

Tell us about your thoughts on the concept and project Symbiosis?
I choose to think of it from the perspective human-planet. And acceptance in an addiction. You get what you give. If we allow an impoverishment of our planet, nature and wildlife, then we will also be left without the balance on which this interaction has rested. Likewise, in terms of interpersonal interaction, how we behave towards each other and those we choose to interact with physically or digitally, determines what kind of social climate we get.

Symbiosis is for me an attitude towards life. It's an urgent issue - change must begin now - it's about daring to live in symbiosis with nature to facilitate the planet's need for recovery. But first we must acknowledge that the world (and most of us) has hitherto lived in symbiosis and dependence with the capitalist system, where fast cash and dying rich and famous are the goals for many. This must be peeled off and replaced in favour of awareness of our own and the planet's finite resources, that needs safeguarding and rebuilding instead of dismantling. Only then will there be an opportunity for future generations to continue and improve.

Åsa Cederqvist's artistic practice operates at the intersection of visual art, film and choreography. Through video, sculpture, installation, photography, and often with extensions in the form of performance or digital means - she creates humorous and disturbing universes that navigate between the subconscious and the rational, the physical and the ephemeral. Her works often suggest a layered narrative with a strong sense of transformation, as if they were in a constant emergence. Recently, her practice has been moving towards a mixture of virtual and physical spheres as a way of erasing the object-subject dichotomy. She has an MFA from the University of Arts, Craft & Design (Konstfack) (2000), and between 2010 and 2020 was a senior lecturer in the Textile program at the same university. In 2020, Åsa was a guest artist in Färgfabriken's Open Studio with her exploratory project A Kind of Metabolism (2).


John Jakobsson, artist
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Who are you?
I am a sculptor and work from my studio on Gotland. I am 36 years old and have studied Ceramics and Glass at University of Arts, Craft & Design (Konstfack) in Stockholm. As a sculptor, I move freely between the different materials that my ideas require.

What are your thoughts about the concept of "symbiosis"?
What interests me most about the concept of symbiosis is how man as a species cannot accept his role in a larger biological context. That we are dependent on maintaining a balance and a symbiotic relationship with the ecological system in order to continue as a species. At the same time, the task seems impossible because much of what humanity strives for often leads us away from this balance. The truth is perhaps that nature does not need us at all but finds new ways to exist within itself, completely without our intervention.

How can this be linked to your practice?
My work is often about creating meaning in the knowledge gaps that I think I discover in the prevailing worldview. What is the norm in what is considered the established worldview? Who has the interpretive precedence when it comes to collecting information that shapes our existence? What is the role of an artist in a world where facts are also drowned in rivers of information where algorithms and fake news shape our view of the world around us? For these reasons I am interested in pseudosciences such as cryptozoology which is very little evidence-based, but at the same time so rich in its narrative. I therefore create different beings and lifeforms that in their physical form are directly impossible. At least from what we know, or rather what we think we know.

Giles Thomson, researcher BTH
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Giles Thomson is an urban planner and senior lecturer who researches and teaches about "regenerative urbanism". A regenerative city is planned and built to improve and restore the natural systems from which it draws its resources. It has a symbiotic, mutually beneficial, relationship with its surrounding "hinterland", not only by minimizing its environmental impact but by actively improving and regenerating the ecosystems on which it depends.

Thomson holds a Ph.D. in regenerative urbanism from Western Australia Curtin University in Australia. He is currently researching regenerative cities and regions in Sweden at Blekinge Institute of Technology (BTH) at the Department of Strategic Sustainable Development. He is particularly interested in how different modes of transport and infrastructures affect urban morphology. Giles has previous experience from both industry and government, and has worked on urban renewal projects in the UK and Australia, most recently as a research leader for the South Australian Government's integrated design strategy.

Within the Symbiosis collaboration, Giles Thomson works with Färgfabriken on ideas and content that deepen and exemplify what "regenerative cities and communities" could be.

Marvels & Catastrophes, artist group
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Marvels & Catastrophes is an interdisciplinary artis collective that was launched in 2018 as an act of defiance, in the hope of creating an alternative set of creative strategies capable of addressing the increasing disastrous effects of climate change. The premise was, and remains, simple: there is a body of unassailable science, concerning human agency and climate change, that clearly is not gaining the kind of broad consensus that is urgently needed to bring humanity together in common cause. Marvels and Catastrophes was established to examine not just the science, but to go further by exploring how earlier historic precedents and generational narratives worked to bind together populations and their cultures in the past. History shows that science and myth have always coexisted. Convincing the world population to work together on such a grand scale needs more than communicating the science. We also need to invent ways to fuel our imagination to act in concert. Our strategy then is to imagine, toy, and develop ideas, designs and concepts that can pull us out of this most difficult quagmire.

Unfortunately, we are now in the second year of the Covid19 global pandemic, where it would seem that the tragic evidence of what unchecked human activity can bring about on itself is undeniable. And yet conspiracy theories, false science, unregulated capital, bad politics and a shockingly weak social contract continues to undermine collective action. Marvels and Catastrophes, as a work collective, hopes to counter these widely held myths with a more critically constructive set of propositions that would work on more positive outcomes. The virus, a symbol of when the last vestiges of the wild encroached upon and overrun by human negligence, can also be a sort of diagram for resistance.

/Peter Lang, grundare av Marvels & Catastrophes

Marvels & Catastrophes are participants in and contributors to the Listen project. Through the group, Listen is integrated into the Symbios project, which creates synergies between the two processes.

Design for sustainable development, Konstfack
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Design for sustainable development - biomimicry & nature inspired design.

 What does it mean to co-create with multispecies at the design table, and how can nature inspire us in our design processes towards solutions that are embedded in sustainability?

With these questions in mind, five groups have been challenged to develop models for cohabitation with multispecies, using a design perspective inspired by and designed for bees, earthworms, pigeons, slime mold and seahorses.

Their projects introduce us to the complexity of nature-inspired design methods and why they are important for achieving ecological solutions in industrial design. Their musings and projects are based on a design ecology that considers how design can create conditions to further life, where multispecies-centred design is at the heart of the task.

Nature, in its 3.8 billion years of research and development, holds many answers to challenges we might be grappling with. In the field of biomimicry, we look directly to nature for mentorship, measurement and model to solve our design challenges. This project, though, goes one step further into exploring the practice of more-than-human design, where each species is placed at the heart of the design and we humans merely become the companions to enable further life.

This collaboration emerges from a course in industrial design with focus on sustainable development at Konstfack University of Arts, Crafts and Design in Stockholm.

Course design and composition: Anna Maria Orru.

Course leaders: Anna Maria Orru & Stina Wessman

Themes and participating students:
Pigeons: Nikola Despotovic, Philip Ståhlbrand, Wilma Wågelöf & Kristin Wästberg.

Bees: Maria Bennani-Smires, Fanny Gulliksson, Linn Hammarberg & Silva Zander.

Earthworms: Ariana Drvota, Lovisa Ingman & Christoffer Isaksson

Seahorses: Alicia Ahlström, Gustav Sturk & Jukka Viitasara

Slime mold: Olivia Arwin, Felicia Larsson & Camilla Widén

Art, architecture & science
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Art, architecture & scienc in symbiosis

What will future urban development look like? Artists, architects and researchers can provide us with new inspiration and help to answer this question. The various projects presented here all draw from both past examples and the latest achievements within current research in order to generate discussions surrounding urban development in relation to ecology and sustainability. Through art, architecture and science, we search for solutions to individual problems as well as inspiration for large-scale ideas that can lead to a change in the system and alternative ways of life.
This part of the exhibition contains visions that borrow ideas from science fiction and that occasionally verge on dystopian in nature. However, the examples simultaneously reject the utopia that has pushed us towards dystopia, the Modern Project and its consequences. It is a deliberate movement away from the major development projects that came about as part of industrialisation, away from the extensive programmes that have consumed natural resources at a rapid pace and created segregation and disparities to the benefit of humanity.
Is a future of ecological collapse already set in stone, or is there another way to build and plan cities so that resources, land and power are shared? Time does not stand still. Just as society, urban development and culture do not stop evolving as we continue on our journey on planet Earth, somewhere in an endless universe.

Björn Norberg is a freelance curator who has often worked at the intersection of art, architecture and societal issues. He has made a selection of intriguing examples and prototypes that in various ways relate to urban development, based on both history and ideas about the future.


Love Enqvist, artist, shows parts of the project Diggers and Dreamers.

Jonas Runberger, architect, participates with prototypes for the Interstitial Towers.

Pablo Miranda, Architecture Researcher, with the computer program Regex: [01] {20}.

The ZONE, an interdisciplinary art and research group composed of artists Bronwyn Lace and Marcus Neustetter, curator Basak Senova and philosopher and biologist Johannes Jaeger, participates with the Game Zone.

The Arkitektur journal, marks its 120 years as a magazine through the concept "A house for seeing into the future".

Image: Idea sketches for form and function for a cluster of Interstitial towers. Photo: Jonas Runberger


Partners & collaborations

Blekinge institute of technology

An ongoing research collaboration between Blekinge Institute of Technology and Färgfabriken focuses on sustainable urban development and imaginations of the future. together we investigate the concept of "regenerative cities", starting from, among other examples, our immediate area Lövholmen and Bangladesh's capital Dhaka.
About the collaboration

Södertörn University

A long term collaboration with Södertörn University has in the autumn of 2020 manifested in an exchange with Isabel Löfgren, artist, researcher and university lecturer in Media and Communication Science. Through the PUSH program she contributes in discussions and analyzes about Symbiosis' content and themes, while conducting her own research in the border zones between different fields and practices.

Royal Institute of Technology (KTH)

Many interesting collaborations and dialogues with the Royal Institute of Technology are taking place. Some of the sections and departments that are involved in Symbiosis are KTH Watercentre, KTH Environmental strategies and Futures studies, KTH Sustainable development ICT and innovation, KTH Architecture, KTH Science and Technology Studies with focus on Gender and Environment, KTH Media Technology and Interaction Design . The collaboration is expressed as the exchange of ideas, joint research projects and the formulation of course assignments.
Foto: Jann Lipka


Konstfack is Sweden's largest art college with a focus on art, design and crafts. For Symbiosis, Färgfabriken has collaborated with the industrial design program through Anna Maria Orru.

Photo: Hironori Tsukue

North Cultitude 6263

A network for collaboration between artists and cultural creators along the 62:nd and 63:rd latitudes, which problematizes concepts such as center – periphery, challenges perspectives and questions conventional geographical world views and value perspectives. The collaboration with Färgfabriken results in a public program.


Färgfabriken and the Nationalmuseum teamed up in spring of 2019 with a focus on exploring what the historical and contemporary art witness and teach us about natural resources and climate policies. The result can be seen in the exhibition Arcadia - a paradise lost, on display at the Nationalmuseum September 17 2020 – January 17 2021.

Foto: Suvra Kanti Das

Nordic Biomimicry

Nordic Biomimicry is a Nordic Knowledge Hub & Education Platform for Biomimicry, bringing together the knowledge, network and tools for Biomimicry, Biomimetics and Bio-inspired design that are based on nature, its life principles and solutions for sustainability. They offer a course in biomimicry at Färgfabrien Aug 31 - Sep 1.

Photo: Baby Lotus Leaf after monsoon rain at Buddhist Temple’ by Alex H. Grande

Posthumanities hub

A feminist research group and a multi-university platform for more-than-human humanities, founded in 2008 by Professor Cecilia Åsberg at Linköping University (LiU). KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm hosted the Hub 2018- spring 2021. It's now back at LiU and connected to the Gender, nature, culture platform. Bringing science and art to the humanities, the Hub has been a transformational force of the societally relevant, extra-disciplinary, super-networked, new humanities.

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A living laboratory

For a quarter of a century, Färgfabriken has explored how art, architecture and urban planning can contribute to new ways of interpreting a complex world. Symbiosis is a project whose content and themes are inspired by Färgfabriken's activities during 25-years.

Do you want to collaborate with us?

What would you like us to discuss? Do you have suggestions, ideas or tips? Maybe a course or conference that would fit into a "symbiotic context"? This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

© Färgfabriken 2020

With support from the City of Stockholm, Region Stockholm, the Swedish Arts Council, Mistra, Riksbankens Jubileumsfond, KTH Watercentre, KTH Sustainability, Bleking Tekniska Högskola, Citycon & Lindéngruppen AB.