Water connections Prespa

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Event details

2022-09-20 17:30
17:30 UTC

Water connections, a round table discussion about Prespa, art and water – beyond borders in a more than human world

We invite you to explore Prespa, a national park and lake at the border of Greece, Albania and North Macedonia, and a venue of walking art practice for almost two decades. Art and science, biology and ecology meet in an evening with two panels about Prespa, water and arts, in a dialogue with artists, researchers, scientists and ecologists, a confluence of the Prespa lake with Oika in the US, the El Hondo Wetland in Spain, the wet meadows of Somerset Levels in the UK, and the waters of Yarun (Bribie Island) in Australia.

This evening is co-coordinated by Supercluster in the frame of the project “A Bio Art process of serendipity in Prespa” by Department of Fine and Applied Arts, University of Western Macedonia in Florina and Department Aquatic Ecotoxicology, Faculty Biological Sciences, Goethe University Frankfurt.

Free participation via following weblink

Tuesday September 20th, 19:30 to 21:30 CET
Online participation via Supercluster, on the ground in Psarades – Prespa.

19:30 to 20:30 CET
Yannis Ziogas, Ph.D.,painter, Professor, EETF/UOWM
Jonas Jourdan (D), Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Department Aquatic Ecotoxicology, Faculty Biological Sciences Goethe University Frankfurt
Fay Stevens (UK), Associate Professor, University of Notre Dame
Nikos Yannakis, Ph.D. Biologist, ex President of the Prespa National Park Management Body
20:30 to 21:30 CET
Geert Vermeire (B), (moderator) curator, artist and writer, co-founder walk listen create and Supercluster
Fred Adam (SP), New Media explorer, co-founder CGeomap and Supercluster, researcher and Freelance Art Director
Rich Blundell (US), Ph. D., founder of Oika, scientist, ecologist, philosopher
Tracey Benson (AU), Ph.D., University of Canberra,

followed by a discussion with the public


Yannis Ziogas
Prespa, an approach of the landscape as an entity of biodiversity in relation to artistic expression

Prespa is a complex environment of ever-changing realities. Natural phenomena, human activities, and climate changes are creating changing realities. One of the main elements of that change is the area’s lakes, creeks, and rivers. Their waters are constantly reshaping the place and are transforming it into different geographies. This inevitably influences the biological characteristics of the place/landscape: the creatures, and organisms that are living in it. The research of this period will investigate the way the bio-characteristics of the place are shaping its identity and character and are influencing the creation of artistic expressions.

Jonas Jourdan
Hidden biodiversity and its persistence in the Anthropocene

The Prespa and its surroundings harbor unique biodiversity – much of which is still unknown. Small organisms in particular have remained unnoticed until recently because they were considered to be a single species widely distributed across Europe. In recent years, genetic studies have shown that presumed species are actually multiple species that simply cannot be recognized by morphological differences – but by genetic divergence. Such species are referred to as cryptic species. It has been shown that these species have lived through
millions of years of different evolutionary history – a fact that receives little attention in conservation efforts so far. Most of the species have remained local in river systems of the Balkan Peninsula, while others spread throughout Europe. We know little about their way
of life, adaptations to local conditions, and their vulnerability to change conditions. Yet almost all rivers worldwide are experiencing enormous anthropogenic pressures. Pollutants (especially pesticides) and wastewater from households and industry are accumulating in rivers, while precipitation conditions are changing and temperatures are rising. Knowing more about these unknown species and their tolerance to pressures from highly stressed ecosystems is essential for navigating conservation efforts in the Anthropocene.

Nikos Giannakis
Threats to biodiversity and landscape of the Prespa National Park

Prespa is a place of variety. Its most important asset is its great diversity of all forms of life. It is very likely in fact, that no other region in the whole of Europe has such a great variety for its size. Up until some time ago, when land use in Prespa was still on the extensive pattern, human activity was enhancing its biodiversity, gradually taking over from the natural ecosystem processes of the past. Clearings in the woods and wet meadows among the reedbeds on the lakeside created and maintained by grazing, the diverse nature of the fields with their abundant hedgerows in the lowlands and on the cultivated terraces of the mountainsides, as well as traditional settlements themselves, were all part of the richness of the landscape still experienced by us today.
Our contemporary lifestyle, however, has altered dramatically the way we interact with our natural environment, and it was inevitable that Prespa too would also suffer the consequences of such alterations. Changes in land use, globally considered as the prime threat for biodiversity have intensified in recent years. The shift to the chemical monoculture of beans, for example, has put the natural environment of Prespa under serious pressure, threatening the integrity of its farmland soils, as well as its surface and underground waters. During the last decade of economic, social, and climatic crises, serious novel threats to biodiversity and landscape are being identified, ironically associated almost exclusively with irrational installation plans of renewable energy sources. Efforts to alleviate the adversity of these threats will be presented, aiming to encourage discussion among participants.

Fay Stevens
‘Messengers and Promises’: A Cultural Ecology of the Somerset Levels, UK

The Somerset Levels is among the largest wetlands remaining in England. Its dynamic and unique ecology is characterised by flat, wet meadows bordered by watery rhynes with low hills that create a mosaic of land and fluid scapes. It is a place rich in history, legend, heritage and ecology that coalesce as visceral relationships expressed through the liquidity and flow of time and water. The Levels is also a place I have a close connection to from my archaeological research on Bronze Age metalwork deposition in its watery contexts, as writer in residence, as artist in residence and through my frequent perambulations through this captivating and eerie waterscape. In this presentation I discuss two liquid perspectives. First, the creative materiality of ancient entanglements with floodwaters and second, the recent reintroduction of crane birds back into the ecology and cultural life of the Levels.

Fred Adam
opening the door to the wetland

The El Hondo wetland in Spain is an important place for migration of birds on their way to Africa, following the coast of the mediterranean sea. A forgotten and broken public wooden hut stands on the edge of the wetland, at the end of the road. How can we contribute from Art practice to regenerate this place and give a majestic sense to the presence of this hut ? The project Oika Spain intends to contribute to the environmental regeneration of the place by an Art practice rooted into the local intelligence of Nature and people. The always changing presence of water, more than 150 different species of birds and a very large number of insects are the core source of inspiration for the celebration of Nature. It is at the same time a social experiment at the local level and a global experiment, a playground for the community of artists members of the oika.com project.

Rich Blundell
A deep history of water

Material life boils down to carbon, hydrogen, oxygen and a handful of other elements. The mediator of carbon-based life is water. From the time of the Earth’s creation, 4.6 billion years ago, water has served as the currency, carrier and caretaker of life. It is the facilitator of information exchange, a conduit of electrical impulses and even a storehouse for non-biotic memory. In this presentation I will talk about the deep history of water in the genesis and continuation of life on Earth. I will tell the scientific story of water and also explore the art and philosophy of hydrophilia from planetary to personal scales.

Tracey Benson
Weaving wetlands and connecting through the onewater

Earlier this year I returned to South East Queensland to be closer to family. We live on a small island off the coast – Yarun (Bribie Island). It is a place of saltwater and freshwater, of ancestors, childhood memories and stories reaching back thousands of years. Bribie is the Dugong, the Manatee or sea cow according to the Gubbi Gubbi people, and this vulnerable creature thrives in the passage between the island and the mainland. Over 90 percent of the land on Yarun is national park and the water surrounding it is a marine protected area. Since moving to the island my work with water as an artist has become more visceral, we are impacted by the ebbs and flows of the tides, the extremity of floods with the debris from the rivers washing to our shores. And while my story is one about a small island, the water that flows in and around the island is much more expansive – connecting us to the bay, the ocean and the many water bodies on this planet. How can we more actively honour and revere this connection between us as water bodies will be my focus for the conversation as I seek to bring together themes of deep time, science, culture and spirit.


Dr. Yannis Ziogas main visual practices are painting, installation work and walking. He is Associate Professor at the Department of Fine and Applied Arts, School of Visual Arts, University of Western Macedonia. He has organized International Conferences on Contemporary Aesthetics with an emphasis on Walking Art, the most recent one of it being the Encounters/Conference Art/Walking Bodies/Walking Practices, Prespes 2021, and the e-publication Walking Art/Walking Aesthetics, Interartive, 2018).

Geert Vermeire is a curator, poet and artist, with a focus on spatial writing, locative sound & performance and social practices. He develops collaborative processes, departing from the ethical involvement of cultural action. He manages walk listen create. He is also co-founder of Supercluster, a platform for learning and creating with site specific and locative media. He coordinates, together with Yannis Ziogas, WAC, a bi-annual International Walking Encounters/Conference in Prespa, Greece.

Jonas Jourdan (D), Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Department Aquatic Ecotoxicology, Faculty Biological Sciences Goethe University Frankfurt

Nikos Yannakis, Ph.D. Biologist, ex President of the Prespa National Park Management Body

Fay Stevens is an archaeologist, academic, writer, curator and artist. Adjunct Associate Professor in Archaeology and Sustainability Studies at University of Notre Dame. Specialist in the philosophical school of phenomenology, the archaeology of water, theoretical landscape archaeology and sustainability.

Fred Adam is a New Media explorer, co-founder of CGeomap and Supercluster. Researcher and Freelance Art Director in spatial narratives in the outdoors, Fred investigates how technology can help us to understand better and preserve the Earth by involving people into transformative outdoor experiences. Collaborating with Dr. Rich Blundell since 2015, he created the Oika Spain project at the El Hondo wetland. It is a ramification of the project Oika, to experiment how the Art practice with Nature can contribute to environmental regeneration.

Dr. Rich Blundell is an ecologist and philosopher working at the convergence of art, science, nature and culture. As the founder of Oika, his research examines how transformation happens across the scales of person, place and planet. As a communicator, Rich tells a scientific story of the universe that includes art and human creativity as natural phenomena. His goal is to make the continuity of nature palpable. He is currently the Visiting Scientist at the Maria Mitchell Association on Nantucket Island.

Dr Tracey M Benson is an Australian based artist and researcher working with ubiquitous technologies, user research and active audience participation, focusing on ecological balance, awareness and wellbeing. She often collaborates with Indigenous communities, historians and scientists to co-create works exploring place, time and memory.


Yannis Ziogas

Yannis Ziogas

Yannis Ziogas was born in Thessaloniki (Greece, 1962). His main visual practices are painting, installation work and walking. He is Dean and Associate Professor at the Department of Fine and Applied Arts, School of Visual Arts, University of Western Macedo...

Geert Vermeire

Founder Online Jury 2022 Online Jury 2023

Geert Vermeire is a curator, poet and artist, moving constantly between Greece, Portugal and Brazil, with a focus on spatial writing, locative sound & performance and social practices. He develops collaborative processes, departing from the ethical in...

Fred Adam

Founder of the locative media portal the GPSmuseum and co-creator of the collaborative mapping and locative media platform CGeomap, co-creators of the Deep Time Walk app and Jungle-ized the app that brought the Amazon rainforest to Times Square in NYC. Exp...

Tracey Benson

Tracey M Benson is an interdisciplinary artist and researcher based in Canberra, Australia. In 2019 she founded Treecreate, a social enterprise focused on creative action around regeneration, reforestation and eco-awareness. With an interest in ubiquitous ...

Fay Stevens

Fay Stevens

I am an archeologist (UCL) and award-winning lecturer and researcher and have worked in archeological projects in Armenia, Europe and the UK and travelled extensively on academic research including Syria, Jordan, USA and Japan. I specialize in the philosop...

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