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Do Humans Care for Algae?

Algae have recently evolved from a neglected resource or a nuisance to a promising resource for the bioeconomy of the future. Algae are the new trend and provide superfood, antioxidants, biomaterials, biofuels… While algae farms are flourishing in Europe, how can we avoid the usual productivist and colonizing strategies of humans using natural resources? How can we design inter-species interactions? What does an algae farm should look like? What are the different materialities of algae?

Do humans care for algae?

While life is still a mystery in many ways, the search for its origin leads us back to the first single-celled blue-green algae that appeared in the oceans about 3,5 billion years ago. Algae developed photosynthesis. They use the energy of the sun to convert carbon dioxide into organic matter while releasing oxygen as a by-product. Thanks to the continuous activities of these first algae the atmosphere slowly enriched in oxygen and became favorable to the apparition of more complex forms of life. Multicellular organisms, plants, animals gradually conquered the oceans, the lands and the airs.

Algae are the real architects of life, currently responsible for more than 50% of the oxygen production on Earth and for a large part of carbon sequestration. They are at the basis of the food chain. Growing in all fresh and sea water as well as in the most peculiar and extreme places on Earth, they have developed fantastic symbiosis strategies to cohabit with other living species. 

Humans – and all living things – are obviously deeply depending on algae. Yet, humans still know so little about those fascinating organisms. While algae are more and more promoted by humans as one miraculous solution to solve the climate crisis, they will most probably outlive humanity… What can we learn from them while we still can? 

At a time when it becomes urgent to rethink how humans cohabit with other forms of life, this research projects intends to explore algae as an ambassador to reframe our understanding of the world.

Algae workshop series

This is the last workshop in a a series of 3 workshops, where we will explore the history and role of the algae on Earth, challenge our human perception of the world and investigate possible relationships with these organisms. In each session, a guest speaker will highlight a specific topic and inspire the participants to explore more-than-human worlds.

Workshop 1 – A History of the World by the Algae
04/09 - 10.00 - 16.00

Workshop 2 – Algae Manifesto
05/09 - 15.00 - 19.00

Johanna Weggelaar

Johanna Weggelaar studied general engineering and worked three years in wind and solar energy in France before turning to cultural history. With this double background, she now works on projects at the crossroad of disciplines, aiming at creating a dialogue between different expertise fields, cultures and practices. Since 2013, she is based in the Netherlands where she contributed to curate and produce various international exhibitions that hold a critical eye on technology, society and the environment. In 2017, Johanna joined Atelier Luma as project leader for the Algae Platform. In addition to the Atelier, she is researching how to build new narratives and alternative methodologies in a context of climate crisis.

Katharina Duran

Katharina Duran has worked as a research consultant in the fields of biotechnology, food and bioeconomy for starts-up, universities and NGOs. She is currently a PhD candidate at Wageningen University investigating the biochemistry and cultivation of the edible mushroom Agaricus Bisporus, thereby dealing with microbiology, soil science and enzymology.

13:00 – 17:00

Het Nieuwe Instituut
Museumpark 25
3015 CB Rotterdam


Free entrance, please RSVP