SPVH CONFERENCE by David Smithson

2013

SOLAR POWERED VERNACULAR HOUSE 2013-2017 / SPVH CONFERENCE
RENEWABLE ENERGY / RENEWABLE CULTURE - International Interdisciplinary Conference on
Technology, Politics, Art, Energy
and Sustainability
November 29-30, 2013; Museum of Contemporary Art Zagreb (MSU)

Speakers included: Nikola Bašić, architect; Dr. Vesna Bukarica, FZOEU; Dr. Mladen Domazet & Dr. Danijela Dolenec, social scientists; Dr. Maja Božičević Vrhovčak, DOOR; Drs. Maja & Reuben Fowkes, curators; Igor Franić, architect; Davor Fulanović, curator; Ivica Gjurić, architect; Adrienne Goehler, curator – publicist; Mirela Holy, Ph.D., politician; Vedran Horvat, HBS Zagreb; Deborah Hustić, Gjino Šutić & Davor Jadrijević, artists – activists; Dr. Vladimir Lay, social scientist; Dr. Konrad Mertens, photovoltaic scientist; Ljubomir Miščević, architect; Dr. René Mono, 100% erneuerbar stiftung; 431 art - Haike Rausch & Torsten Grosch, artists – activists; Shelley Sacks artist – activist; Antje Schiffers & Thomas Sprenger, artists; David Smithson, artist; Dr. Dražen Šimleša, social scientist.

Global warming is a harsh reality, and the exploitation of renewable energy sources is an urgent need. According to a recent statement by the Croatian Government (2011) in accordance with its accession to the EU, Croatia has to provide 23.6% of its energy needs from renewable sources by 2030. With this conference we wanted to make a contribution in this direction. In contrast, the change in energy policy (Energiewende) is one of the most relevant public debates in Germany in recent years. It includes the entire public sphere, in which artists and political activists have a significant role. The German experience with energy transition is highly instructive, setting an example within the context of Europe, and could be of benefit to both a specialized and also a wider audience in Croatia.

This conference was a project of cultural exchange and education on energy and sustainable transition, intended as an exchange between Germany, Croatia and the region. The aim was to accelerate the process of thinking about renewable energy and sustainability at the micro and macro levels, the special target audience being cultural workers; cultural and political activists, artists, designers, architects, professionals in the creative industry, and students. As already demonstrated in several exemplary European countries, these social groups are the most capable for introducing sustainable energy issues into the central public discourse.

The main goal of the conference was to motivate the audience to take an active role and make an impact on their professional environment - to start acting as examples as they reconstruct their own work environments - ev. their (public) institutions - on the principles of energy efficiency. As organizers, we wanted the MSU to set a good example of an institution that could be and should be energetically reprogrammed - having in mind the unsustainability of the MSU building energy needs, that is, its architectural and energy profile.

The project sought to show that the transition to renewable energy does not need to take place at the expense of the uninformed mass population, with profits only for the elite, as is often the case with the mass application of technologies. This transition can develop through democratic structures based on horizontal social networking, in a way that serves everyone. In this sense, the goal of the conference was to educate how to incorporate the principles of sustainable energy into their/our everyday lives.

A number of international and Croatian speakers covered a spectrum of themes and issues. Presentations and discussions focused on relevant issues related to energy consumption, the environmental impact of the food chain, alternative methods of construction including the energy “overhaul” of existing buildings and public institutions, all in the context of the new economic energy models and civil society in development. Examples of related interdisciplinary artistic practices were featured as well. Plenary discussions actively engaging the audience concluded the presentations on both days.

We hoped that all participants would walk out with one new idea about sustainability, renewables and what they could do next.

Basic Work Format: a five year international interdisciplinary art project investigating technology, politics, art, energy and sustainability during a conference (2013); workshops (2014-2015); an exhibition (2018); websites (2013-2018). Venue: MSU Zagreb. Curator: Martina Munivrana. Modalities and Forms of Work: digital slide shows, video presentations, performances, discussions and workshop interactions between cultural industry professionals and the public at large.

Basic Work Format: a five year international interdisciplinary art project investigating technology, politics, art, energy and sustainability during a conference (2013); workshops (2014-2015); an exhibition (2018); websites (2013-2018). Venue: MSU Zagreb. Curator: Martina Munivrana. Modalities and Forms of Work: digital slide shows, video presentations, performances, discussions and workshop interactions between cultural industry professionals and the public at large.