Miriam Simun created the site-specific series “Three Rituals for the Eco-City” during her stay in Athens Kappatos Art Residency in the context of PUBLICSCAPES: Art and Curatorial Practices in The Public Sphere curated by Sozita Goudouna in March 2014.
Rituals are among the first symbols of culture, often used to perform the human experience of ecological processes, such as birth and death; eating and drinking; markers of time whether passing to adulthood or the change of seasons. Simun interested in exploring the relationship between ecology, human ritual (and the ideology and culture it signifies), and the performance of multi-species bodies in urban space.
For “Three Rituals for the Eco-City,” each ritual proposes a way of being in the world that challenges our conceptions of what it means to ‘live ecologically’ and to build and participate in ‘eco-cities.’ Building on recent work by Bruno Latour, Timothy Morton, and Slavoj Zizek, these rituals reject the concept of ‘nature’ in favor of a more holistic understanding of ecology. According to this thinking, whether or not we accept ’nature’ as inextricably linked to ourselves, the very conceptualization of ‘nature’ positions ecological forces in opposition to the human and human-built ‘civilization.’
‘Nature’ is thus positioned as something other than human. “Three Rituals for the Eco-City” takes a systemic approach to viewing the natural world, understanding the human species (including human industry, artifice and pollution) as a fundamental part of the global ecological system.
“Three Rituals for the Eco-City” imagines three daily personal rituals for a world without nature. Three rituals - intimate and personal activities - are re-imagined as bodily performances that not only perform their human function but address the actions’ greater ramifications on the ecological system within which they reside. Thus the ritual incorporates action/performance, meaning/symbol, and reflection/re-action, displaying an intentionality and corporeality towards not only the human action but a redress to its ecological effect.
During the course of the residency Miriam performs and documents each ritual. Each ritual will involve an object, a performance, and will result in a video piece. The ritual object serves a functional purpose for the action, existing as a physical connection between the human body that performs, and the other urban bodies that are cared for, during the ritual performance. Some performances may include participation of invited audience or passers-by. Each piece will perform a ritual for living in the new eco-city: a ritual for eating, a ritual for cleaning, and a ritual for mourning.