Wild Plants: The Unplanted and the Uncultivated. A series of gatherings

Munem Wasif
Public Program From 10.05.2024 To 11.05.2024
Foto: Julie Hrnčířová
Foto: Julie Hrnčířová
Foto: Julie Hrnčířová
Foto: Julie Hrnčířová
Foto: Julie Hrnčířová
Foto: Julie Hrnčířová
Foto: Julie Hrnčířová
Foto: Julie Hrnčířová
Foto: Julie Hrnčířová
Foto: Julie Hrnčířová
Foto: Julie Hrnčířová

Wild Plants: The Unplanted and the Uncultivated. A series of gatherings brings together practitioners from different fields researching and exploring our social ecologies. The program explores the potential of changing our relation to food and seeds, finding new ways and relations between humans and more-than-human beings.

In collaboration with Kunstnernes Hus, this public program is part of the current exhibition Seeds Shall Set Us Free by artist Munem Wasif at Fotogalleriet.

17.00 – 19.00


Introduction will be held by Fotogalleriet’s Curator and Head of Exhibitions Miki Gebrelul, followed by the screening of Jumana Manna’s Wild Relatives, 2018 (64 min).


Deep in the earth beneath the Arctic permafrost, seeds from all over the world are stored in the Svalbard Global Seed Vault to provide a backup should disaster strike. Wild Relatives starts from an event that has sparked media interest worldwide: in 2012 an international agricultural research center was forced to relocate from Aleppo to Lebanon due to the Syrian Revolution turned war, and began a laborious process of planting their seed collection from the Svalbard back-ups. Following the path of this transaction of seeds between the Arctic and Lebanon, a series of encounters unfold a matrix of human and non-human lives between these two distant spots of the earth. It captures the articulation between this large-scale international initiative and its local implementation in the Bekaa Valley of Lebanon, carried out primarily by young migrant women. The meditative pace patiently teases out tensions between state and individual, industrial and organic approaches to seed saving, climate change and biodiversity, witnessed through the journey of these seeds.


After the screening join us in conversation with writer and Arabic cultural historian Rana Issa og Miki Gebrelul.

19.00 – 22.00


Join us for an informal gathering and a DJ-set by Niilas (Peder Niilas Tårnesvik), an Sámi electronic musician. The terrace at Kunstnernes Hus will be open, and pizza will be served from 19:00.




The introduction will be held by Fotogalleriet’s Artistic Director Antonio Cataldo and the European Kunsthalle Artistic co-Director Rike Frank.




Opening presentation by curator Kathryn Weir about the political ecology dimension of her curatorial practice departing from the projects Cosmopolis #2: Rethinking the Human at the Centre Pompidou in Paris (2019), where Munem Wasif’s Seeds Shall Set Us Free II was first presented, Rethinking Nature at Madre Museum in Naples (2021) and Green Snake at Tai Kwun Contemporary in Hong Kong (2024).




Researcher Pierre du Plessis will look into plant and fungi movement, forging tracks for humans, animals, and more-than-human organisms departing from the encounter of the Kalahari Desert Truffle and contemporary practices of gathering these organisms. Du Plessis will look at it from a feminist conceptual reading of the gatherer through the lenses of The Carrier Bag Theory of Fiction by Ursula Le Guin

Curator and writer Adam Kleinman, will talk on the figure of the German Nobel Prize winning chemist Fritz Haber (1868-1934), and how the same technology that feeds can also kill. This in reference to the history of modern fertilisers and the gradual infiltration of toxic, nitrogen-derived products in the crops, in the land, in our bodies, and the our water.





Shabnam, 2023 (22 MIN) Reetu Sattar


The film Shabnam, 2023 explores the historic and continuing relationship between East Lancashire and Bangladesh in a textile tug-of-war. The film revolves around the delicate muslin produced in Dhaka in the 17th and 18th centuries, highly prized by the British fashion market. It involves the migration of textile workers to Lancashire in the 20th century and back to present-day garment workers in the same city in Bangladesh.




Artist Munem Wasif will hold an address on his practice and its relation to the research-based organization UBINIG, founded by a group of activists in 1984 to support the new agricultural movement, Naya Krishi Andolan




We conclude the symposium with a Q&A session with the symposium speakers. The session is open for questions from the audience. Fotogalleriet’s Curatorial Fellow, Lara Okafor, moderates the session.



16.00 – 16.30




The day culminates in the performance Undersang (work in-progess) by dancer and choreographer Harald Beharie.


Undersang takes it’s form as a performance ritual in the woods of Lillomarka. The work is in collaboration with Black Box Teater and Dansens Hus, 30 May – 2 June.





Jumana Manna is a visual artist and filmmaker. Her work explores how power is articulated, focusing on the body, land and materiality in relation to colonial inheritances and histories of place. Through sculpture, filmmaking, and occasional writing, Manna deals with the paradoxes of preservation practices, particularly within the fields of architecture, agriculture and law. Her practice considers the tension between the modernist traditions of categorisation and conservation and the unruliness of ruination, life and its regeneration. Jumana was raised in Jerusalem and lives in Berlin.


Rana Issa is a writer, translator and cultural producer focusing on literary and contemporary artistic practices entangled with Arabic cultural history. She works at the intersection between public humanities, activist engagements, and academic curiosity. Rana’s work has appeared in leading journals, platforms and presses, and she has collaborations with international artists from the region in the fields of film, performance arts, visual arts and sculpture. Her book The Modern Arabic Bible was published this year from Edinburgh University Press.


Composer, artist and sound artist Peder Niilas Tårnesvik works widely across genres and expressions, but always has a common thread through his works. Through his project Niilas, he has won the Spellemann Prize for his debut album Also This Will Change (2020) with club music, held performances with stones and electronics, and maintained a continuous flow as a rock-solid DJ. By weaving electronic beats, deep bass and melancholic melodies, he creates glittering carpets of sound, which are bound together by his Sami origins and Arctic aesthetics.


Kathryn Weir’s curatorial and writing practice engages with critical thinking on technology, class, race, gender and political ecology. She is the Co-Artistic Director, Lagos Biennial 2021-2024, and teaches Curatorial Studies at Nuova Accademia di Belle Arti, Rome. Her research and teaching practice engages with art’s new pedagogies and its expanded geographies and histories, focusing also on intersections between critical theory and artistic experimentation. She previously directed the MADRE museum in Naples (2020-23) and the multidisciplinary programmes at the Centre Pompidou (2014-20), where she created Cosmopolis, a platform for research-based, socially engaged and collaborative practices, and the festival MOVE: performance, dance, moving image. From 2006-14, she was head of international art at the Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art (QAGOMA), Brisbane, and a member of the curatorium of the 5th, 6th and 7th Asia Pacific Triennials, as well as curating 21st Century: Art in the first decade (2010-2011).


Pierre du Plessis is a Researcher at the Oslo School of Environmental Humanities, Department of Culture Studies and Oriental Languages, University of Oslo. He is an environmental anthropologist and multispecies ethnographer whose research has focused on the skilled practices of tracking and gathering as methods and analytics to describe more-than-human landscapes. His current research examines more-than-human landscape transformations that emerge with the growth and development of industrial beef production in southern Africa and Europe.


Director of Kunsthall Trondheim, Adam Kleinman is dedicated to curating exhibitions, programs, and events that inspire trust and mutual understanding through the presentation of art reflecting the daily realities and lived experiences of both individuals and communities. His aim is to cultivate diverse avenues of access and enhance the joy of everyday life by bringing people together to share relevant ideas articulated with power. Previously, he held positions such as Lead Curator for North America at KADIST, Editor-in-Chief and Curator at (FKA) Witte de With Center for Contemporary Art, and Agent for Public Programming at dOCUMENTA (13). Currently, as the Director of Kunsthall Trondheim, he continues his mission to foster meaningful engagement with the arts.


Trained as a theatre actor, Reetu Sattar (1981, Bangladesh) is a performance artist and filmmaker who works with theatre, video and text to explore themes of collective memories, missing histories and personal objectives. Her exhibitions and performances have been showcased in Rotterdam, Sydney, Liverpool, Tokyo, London, Paris and Singapore. Based in Dhaka, she is a member of the arts collective Britto Arts Trust.


Munem wasi’s image-based works explore the notion and forms of trace. His complex installations often mix photographs with moving images, archive documents or collected paraphernalia to reveal notions of impermanence and insecurity. His working methodology based on long-term immersion, close contact with his subjects and systematic repetition to convey layered, sensitive and sometimes contradictory observations on complex issues such as food sovereignty, labour exploitation or borders and migration.

His work exhibited at Centre Pompidou, Palais de Tokyo, Victoria & Albert Museum, Musee De elysee, Dhaka Art Summit and Sharjah, Singapore, Taipei, Gwangju, Lyon biennale. Munem Wasif received Robert Gardener fellowship in 2023 to work on the critical history of indigo in Bengal. The artist lives and works in Dhaka, Bangladesh.


Lara Okafor (they/them) is a writer, software developer, and organiser. They are interested in prison abolition, speculative fiction, and how those two topics overlap with technology. Lara has written a master’s thesis about digital security for queer people of colour, a short story, ‘Sevenfold’, which was published in the Norwegian sci-fi anthology ‘A line through gravity’, and has writing published in the magazines Fett, Samora Forum, and Billedkunst. Lara was also one of the project coordinators for the documentary film project ‘Loud and Proud: a celebration of Black queer voices’.


Harald Beharie (he/they) is a Norwegian-Jamaican performer and choreographer based in Oslo, Norway. Harald’s choreographic practice navigates through a sphere of ambiguity and imagination, characterized by themes such as construction and deconstruction, hope, uncertainty, indifference and intensity. They have a special interest in “DIY” and the vulnerability of being in the unknown. In an attempt to dissect established corporeal narratives, their work celebrates a spectrum of embodiment – from the pathetic to the ecstatic, the coincidental to the jubilant, from the wobbly to the tenacious, while promoting a conscious naivety and queer playfulness. Harald’s work has received nominations for the prize from the Norwegian Critics Association for the performances “Shine Utopians” with Louis Schou (2020) and for the solo work Batty Bwoy (2022). In 2023, Batty Bwoy also won the Hedda award for “dance performance of the year.”


Rana Issa
Pierre du Plessis
Niilas Foto: Lea Meyer
Kathryn Weir
Adam Kleinman Foto: Annika Svendsen Finne
Harald Beharie

Seeds Shall Set Us Free, an exhibition by Munem Wasif, investigates food systems, wild and uncultivated seeds, and plants that have a more holistic relation to people and bodies, especially connected to oral histories and Indigenous knowledge. We gather around a series of interdisciplinary programs in connection with the exhibition, which is currently open in Oslo. Departing from artistic and curatorial methodologies, we move across the fluidity of learning and exchange to evoke ecologies of survival, sustenance, and ritualization of collectivity, where seeds play a significant role in repositioning our historical time.

Modernity and progress pushed the boundaries of the cultivable but also broke relations of seasons and ritualistic gathering in favor of mass production and loss of regard to the land and livelihood. We focus specifically on the relationship between Asia and the Arctic and draw from Indigenous knowledge to look at how agriculture has attempted to serve exploitative practices of land grabbing when we look, for instance, at the Sámi people and their livelihood in the Arctic territory and the Garo people in Bangladesh. From music, foraging edible plants, using and abusing fertilizers for military use first, and the toxication of land later, we reclaim a different relation to nature and the body. This allows us to reorient technology, social value, and the world from an artistic perspective and challenge notions of universality and modernity from within and outside the exhibition space, and its sphere of influence beyond its framing of Modernity’s promise of bettering living conditions while bringing with itself a flattening of experience and impoverishment of nutrients.

The exhibition and its related events have received funding from Arts Council Norway and The Gwaertler Grant. Thank you.