Since 2014, the DIY humanities research project called Apian has followed an ongoing and open-ended ethnography which explores the age-old interspecies relationship of bees to humans and humans to bees. Combining an anthropological approach and the practice of art and beekeeping, Apian investigates contact zones where humans and bees meet, considering the relationships that already exist and the ones which are yet to be invented. It explores how both species make and infect each other through ecological, social, historical, cultural, philosophical and aesthetical encounters. Drawing from personal and tangible experiences, having learnt beekeeping from my grandfather, the research does not see bees as a metaphor, or as bridge to reconnect humans with Nature, but as an active subject with which we have to collaborate.


Note annexe

Picture of Apian’s apiary in Bevaix Switzerland. The picture was made in 2012 when I started helping my grandfather and his bees. [ID: In the middle of the picture stands a small wooden cabin surrounded by trees and green. The cabin’s door is open and we can see my grandfather veil. On the right, on top of a stone wall we can see some of the hives. A patchy early morning light bathes the cabin and the surrounding environment, moss is spreading on the roof slowly changing its colour.]

Apian consists of multiple fragments that are at the same time autonomous and related to one another. Once reunited, they assemble a sort of narrative universe which aims to create and reconstitute refugia*, places of refuge, for beekeepers, scholars and bees – where translation between different sensoria becomes possible in spaces where we can think together. The results are polymorphous ethnographies which mix different media such as text, photography, sound and video. In other words, it creates a machine that enables humans to feel and explore the links that have been woven between bees and humans over centuries. It also offers the possibility of caring without touching or disturbing: an intimacy without proximity**. It is not solely about creating knowledge; it also aims to stimulate aesthetic, cultural, and multispecies encounters in order to fight back, in alliance with bees, against the blinding idea of human exceptionalism.

Apian spans different fields. For example, it has been presented in an artistic context at the Festival Circulation(s) in Paris at the 104 (2015); twice during the Swiss federal design awards (2015/2018); in anthropological form during the ASA conference at the University of Oxford (2018); at the 2019 CTM festival in Berlin; and is being developed through a residency programme at La Becque, Switzerland (2019-2020). Apian also aims to be collaborative and has been a site for meeting around shared sensibilities, for example with Randolf Menzel, the artists Laurent Güdel and Ellen Lapper. Ultimately, this is also a call for future exchange and collaborations.

For a portfolio or further information, please do not hesitate to get in contact.

*By refugia, I mean the plural of refugium in the biological sense: a location which offers shelter for endangered species (Wikipedia). According to Anna Tsing, the Holocene was the period of refugia and the Anthropocene is the period that has destroyed those vital places. (Tsing, Anna, as cited in, Haraway, Donna. 2016. ‘Staying with the Trouble: Making Kin in the Chthulucene’. Duke University Press, Durham and London)

**I borrowed these words from Jacob Metcalf: (2008. ’Intimacy without Proximity: Encountering Grizzlies as a Companion Species.’ Environmental Philosophy 5 (2), 99-128.)