Gemenskapspraktik (Community Practice) is an art- and research practice which is concerned with understanding and developing relationships between humans and other beings and phenomena.
The name “Gemenskapspraktik” is Swedish and derived from the words “gemenskap” (community) and “praktik” (practice). It originates from Gemenskapstjänster (Community Services) which was a project at Marabouparken Konsthall in 2018. Gemenskapstjänster referenced “gemenskap” as in communities of humans and nonhumans and “tjänster”, as in pollination services. Gemenskapspraktik keeps community but replaces services with “practice”.
In Swedish gemenskap is the closest equivalent to community, but gemenskap puts more emphasis on the feeling of being together rather than the fact of being together. Praktik is similar to practice. It can mean both to do something and to learn something.
[Interviews with beekeepers and footage of apiaries in Iceland, summer 2017.]
[Full interview with Pat in Bjarnarfjörður, Iceland 2017. Part one focuses on experiences and practicalities of beekeeping on Iceland and part two on beekeeping and ecology on Iceland.]
ABOUT BEEKEEPING IN ICELAND
In many parts of Iceland it seems like it is almost impossible to make honey bees thrive for longer periods. The weather is just too harsh and there is not enough flowering plants. Feeding the bees with more sugar could make up for the lack of flowers, but if all the bees eat is imported sugar then the question is if it wouldn’t be better to just import honey instead. In other parts of Iceland, where the climate is milder, beekeeping is working out better. There are beekeepers who get up to 60kg of honey from a hive, which is a good harvest.
People on Iceland have been attempting beekeeping with more or less success from at least the 1940’s but more organised beekeeping didn’t start until the late 1990’s. Today the Icelandic Bee Association keeps track of 100-150 hives on Iceland. There is even a beekeeper who has started to breed queens. However, Icelandic beekeepers are still dependant on importing bees. The bees are imported from Åland, an island in the Baltic sea, between Sweden and Finland. Åland has been lucky and, because of its relative isolation, not been subjected to varroa and other bee diseases. The idea is that by bringing the bees from Åland these diseases can be avoided on Iceland too. So far it has worked out well.
If bumble bees, solitary bees and other wild pollinators are subjected to competition from honey bees is not particularly researched. However, it has been shown that there can be competition where there is a limited amount of flowering plants . If beekeeping becomes more popular then perhaps there is a risk that honey bees outcompete some of the relatively few native pollinators on Iceland . On the other hand, given the relatively few locations on Iceland that really are suitable for beekeeping, it is not likely that beekeeping will become ubiquitous anytime soon. More beekeeping would likely go together with changes in the flora and climate. In any case honey bees are not the biggest threat to wild pollinators on Iceland. A number of Iceland’s pollinators, including the native heath bumblebee, are already at risk of severe population declines if the invasive lupines that were introduced on Iceland in the 1940’s to combat soil erosions continues to replace native flowering plants . This summer (2017) a new shipment with around seventy bee colonies arrived by airplane to Iceland from Åland. If these bees survive and reproduce it could mean that beekeeping is established in Iceland. If they don’t it will be one of several attempts to import bees that have not succeeded in creating a sustainable honeybee population in Iceland.
 Competition between managed honeybees and wild bumblebees depends on landscape context, Lina Herbertsson et al 2016.
 A quick search at The National and University Library of Iceland in Reykjavik revealed six pollinators on Iceland: Blomsveifa Syrphus torvus, Letursveifa Sphaerophoria scripta, Randasveifa Helophilus pendulus, Húshumla Bombus lucorum, Lodsveifa Eristalis intricaria, and finally the heath bumblebee (Móhumla Bombus jonellus), which is the only native bee on Iceland. Probably there are more than these on Iceland, but not that many.
 Pollinator diversity in native heath and alien Nootka lupine stands in Iceland, Jonathan Willow 2015.
Non Flowers is a limited edition book designed by Thomas Pausz and Sam Rees and riso printed in Iceland. Released at Interspecies Futures (IF), an artists books exhibition curated by Oscar Salguero at Center For Books Art, New York, April 16 – June 26 2021, and part of the Interspecies Library at Softcore NYC. Contributors include Erik Sjödin, Dr.Shannon Olsson, Ségolène Guinard and Vikram Pradhan.
Interspecies Futures [IF] is the first survey of bookworks by leading international practitioners from the contemporary fields of bio-art and speculative design who have turned to the book as a tool for the proposal of alternative human-nonhuman scenarios.
Informed by methods from conceptual art, posthumanism, biotechnology, and emerging interfaces, these artists produce documents that defy the borders between fiction and reality. In their hands field guides, lost diaries, investigative dossiers, lab journals, corporate catalogues become portals into multiple interspecies possibilities.
[Honeybee Standard Brain, ongoing research / archive by Erik Sjödin]
On the second day of the two day workshop a rocket stove was improvised from scrap material such as old metal buckets and ventilation-pipe. The idea with the improvised rocket stove was to explore the concept of integrating a wood fired stove for cooking next to the existing fire place. A wood fired stove can provide for additional outdoor cooking possibilities (such as boiling food), be fun to use, and useful in the event of a power outage. Eventually KF Huset might build a more permanent and thought through fireplace and outdoor kitchen at the site and the improvised rocket stove works as a pre-study that provides experiences useful in that process.
The stove was built as close as possible to dimensions recommended in the “Rocket Stove Design Guide” by Approvecho Research Center. The space between the stove pipe and the bucket was filled with gravel rather than insulating material such as perlite, which is not optimal in terms of efficiency, but the stove works and is very sturdy.
”Naturen tar över över” är ett projekt vars syfte är att undersöka om konstnärliga gestaltningar kan bidra till ökad biologisk mångfald i detaljplanerade områden. Antingen direkt – eller genom att kommentera eller belysa olika aspekter av artrikedom och diversitet.
Projektet vill också hitta sätt att vidga begreppet offentlig konst så att även tillfälliga eller semipermanenta uttryck kan representeras.
Sju svenska och internationellt verksamma konstnärer eller konstnärsgrupper kommer under sommaren 2020 att uppföra sinsemellan helt olika verk på området. “Naturen tar över – Utställningen” är en möjlighet för dig som besökare att fördjupa dig i konstnärernas gestaltningar och praktik.
[Österängens öppna utekök. Foto: Österängens konsthall / Marcus Gyllborg.]
Medverkande: Jan Carleklev, Jens Evaldsson, Gemenskapspraktik, Nonhuman Nonsense, SymbioLab, Katarina Vallbo, Sissi Westerberg.
The idea with the stove in Österängens Öppna Utekök (Österängen’s Open Outdoor Kitchen) is to complement a common public outdoor grill solution with a wood fired rocket stove for expanded cooking possibilities and relatively safe and cosy interaction with fire.
Food can be cooked on the stove by placing a cooking pot or pan on top of the stove pipe and feeding the fire in the stove with wood sticks through the horisontal part of the L-shaped stove pipe. The grill is used just as a regular grill by putting charcoal on top of the gravel in the concrete pipe and then grilling the food on top of the grate.
[The rocket stove pipe in ÖÖUK.]
The rocket stove is welded from mild steel piping following instructions from the “Rocket Stove Design Guide” by Approvecho Research Center, with some slight modifications to accommodate this particular context.
A stove is always a balance between optimal heat transfer, usability and cost. In this case the horisontal part of the L-shaped stovepipe is slightly longer and wider in diameter than what’s ideal for optimal combustion. However, this allows for better placement of the cooking pot on top of the stove and easier feeding of fire wood. Also the stove pipe is insulated with regular gravel, and not f.ex. vermiculite which would’ve provide better heat retention in the pipe but required a more complicated integration of the stove in the grill.
The stove is integrated with the grill through a hole drilled through the concrete piping and secured with outdoor and heat safe cement plaster and the gravel that is filled up around the stove in the concrete pipe. On top of the concrete pipe is a grill grate cut to fit from non-galvanised expanded metal. The grate and a cooking pot or pan placed on it is kept at the right distance from the top of the stove pipe by distances welded onto the stove.
[Grilling vegetarian sausages and cooking potatoes at ÖÖUK.]
In practice the stove works very well and is able to bring a pot of potatoes as seen on the photo above to the boil in around 10 minutes.
I studiecirkeln samlades en grupp människor och samtalade kring texter som på olika vis belyser människans långa och komplexa relation till honungsbin. “Vid bikuporna under tallarna” är en bok med bilder tagna i anslutning till studiecirkeln.
“Like the control of fire, cooking is an element of culture. It has to be learned and such learning is done in groups. It demands some division of labour and mutual co-operation and, individual attention and patience. One has to watch the food from time to time and postpone eating it until it is well cooked and has cooled off a little. According to some authors, the attention people had to pay to their cooking would have supplied them with ‘the first subtle and intimate knowledge of matter’, this forming the basis for the further development of the empirical natural sciences.”
[Fire & Civilisation, Johan Goudsblom]
“In modern society fire might be hidden from our view, tidied away in the basement boiler, trapped in the engine block of a car, or confined in the power-station that drives the electrical grid, but we are still completely dependent on it. A similar tie is found in every culture. To the hunting-and-gathering Andaman Islanders of India, fire is “the first thing they think of carrying when they go on a journey,” “the center round which social life moves” and the possession that distinguishes humans from animals. Animals need food, water and shelter. We humans need all those things, but we need fire too.”
[Cooked, Michael Pollan]
“At bottom cooking is not a single process but, rather, comprises a small set of technologies, some of the most important humans have yet devised. They changed us first as a species, and then at the level of the group, the family, and the individual.”