On the 26th of November 2017, we invited a group of researchers, artist, students, sjamans, scholars and designers to Sexyland in the north of Amsterdam to discuss the role of the zoo in the anthropocene. What followed was an unforgettable day inside a primate habitat: video’s, poetry, kava-kava rituals, talks, fermented foods and an interesting discussion at the end.

AUDIENCE: The symposium on the zoo of the future deliberately not focussed on ‘zoo-people’, like sjamans, students and supporters. The objective was to bring together a large flock of young motivated people with a variety of ideas on our relation with nature. Researchers, designers and activists. Though there were a few employees from ARTIS the Amsterdam zoo, the audience was mostly composed of young white concerned, environmentally conscious people. Students and teachers from several design academies, like the Design academy Eindhoven, Landscape architecture department Wageningen, the Academy of Architecture Amsterdam, Exhibition design at the Reinwardt Academy Amsterdam and the Rietveld academy in Amsterdam. There was one dog too. And a stuntman.

DECORUM: Primate Habitat
Humans are monkeys and monkeys are humans. Most presentation forms are killingly boring. Take TED talks… Visiting the the zoo is about the experience. Therefore we decided to design the symposium itself as an experience as well. The set up of the symposium questions the contemporary zoo and its design language. But the design at the same time challenged the visitor to take the position of the animal; to experience their position and to make use of the affordances usually provided to enrich animal enclosures. Allowing our guests to appropriate the space turned them from a passive audience into the subject of the day: the animals exhibited. Both uncomfortable and challenging the public was provided with different kinds of enrichment: a climbing structure, nut-feeders, hay blocks, bananas, buoys and car tires. The cognitive and visual enrichment was provided by the speakers of the day.

Please visit http://www.zooof.org [ZOo Of the Future]

SEXYLAND, Amsterdam
26 november 2017
in collaboration with Thijs de Zeeuw and Bart den Hartog

with generous contributions of Aldo Hakman, Barbara Visser, Arne Hendriks, Clemens Driessen, Govert Flint, Katharina Swoboda, Nick Shepherd, Kári Driscoll, Jos Rademakers, Edwin Gardner, Esmee Geerken, Melanie Bonajo, Silvia van der Wal and VR-Gorilla.

symposium the Zoo in the Antropocenne