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Nomeda & Gediminas Urbonas: Swamp Intelligence

exhibition project

Curated by: Lýdia Pribišová

24. 9. – 6. 11. 2020
Opening: 24. 9. from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.

venue: tranzit.sk, Beskydská 12, 81105 Bratislava
open: Tuesday – Thursday: 2-6 p.m.; Friday: 2-7 p.m.


Today, revalorising the swamp over solid ground as well as exploring its complex web of interactions appears to be far from the romantic clichés of ‘Noble Savage’ and ‘Back to Nature’. We cannot get back to the marshes, as there is no objectively fixed environment to return to. Instinctive and natural behaviour cannot undo our civilization, but rather provokes conflict and discontent with(in) ourselves derived from social and cultural repression. In a time marked by radical instability and threats of war and environmental collapse, the Swamp Research project sheds light on the vital urgency of human cohabitation with other forms of life. The swamp offers ideal conditions to test the idea of sympoiesis— creating and coming together in order to find a new ethos of coexistence, and to recognize the poetic power of the ecologies surrounding us.

So how do swamps foster our thinking? In fact, swamps are interactions of several networks, combining heterogeneous forces and multiple layers into complex biosystems acting as a brain that exceeds predefined bodily limits and infiltrates our living environments. Among other things, they primarily point out two fundamental moments: mutual conditioning between the “individual” and its “milieu and the intertwining of fabricated and natural elements.

A problematic space also becomes the perfect place to reflect on problematic divisions. On what basis is ownership or territory defined? Which occupants of a place are agents and which are witnesses?
Where can a new language be found, and what new aesthetic can it offer? What is the relationship between matter and imagination? What is tomorrow? Perhaps today we must celebrate the long-maligned swamp!

The presentation of Swamp Intelligence is an outgrowth of the Swamp School—a future learning environment that embraces the swamp as an evocative form of primordial technology and supports collaborative experiments in design, pedagogy, and artistic intelligence for learning and adapting to imminent unknowns.

Concept: Nomeda & Gediminas Urbonas
Architecture: Indrė Umbrasaitė
Research team: Nikola Bojić, Kristupas Sabolius
Programming: Thomas Sanchez Lengeling, Jonas Kubilius
Graphic design: Gailė Pranckūnaitė, Serge Rompza
Scientific advisors: Vesta Aleknavičiūtė, Jūratė Sendžikaitė, Onutė Grigaitė

Nomeda and Gediminas Urbonas are artists, educators, and co-founders of the Urbonas Studio, an interdisciplinary research practice for the transformation of civic spaces and collective imaginaries. Their work frequently involves collective activities contributing to cross-disciplinary exchange: network and participatory technologies; sensorial media and public space; environmental remediation design and spatial organisation; and alternative planning integration.

Their work has been exhibited in many international Biennials, with solo shows at the Venice Biennale and MACBA, Barcelona; and recognised by awards including the Lithuanian National Prize (2007); Best International Artist at the Gwangju Biennale (2006) and the Prize for the best national pavilion at the Venice Biennale (2007).
They are co-founders of the Transaction Archive and co-directors of the Pro-test Lab Archive. Their writing has been published by MIT Press, MACBA Press, Barcelona and Sternberg Press.

Gediminas Urbonas is a professor and head of the MIT programme in Art Culture and Technology, Cambridge, MA; Nomeda Urbonas is a PhD researcher at the Norwegian University for Science and
Technology, Trondheim, Norway. They live and work in Cambridge, MA and Vilnius, Lithuania.

Exhibition events:

Discussion on swamps with ecologists
October 14, 2020 at 5 p.m.
Participants: Andrea Froncová, Ján Topercer
Moderated by: Lýdia Pribišová

Cyclo Tour with Ivor Švihran around the Šúr wetlands
October 17, 2020, meeting at tranzit.sk at 2 p.m. - cancelled


Visitors are kindly asked to follow the actual antipandemic measures while visiting the exhibition.


ERSTE Foundation is main partner of tranzit. Supported using public funding by Slovak Arts Council and Bratislava City Foundation and the Lithuanian Council for Culture.

Šepeta swamp, 2020 © Swamp School, photo: Simona Kačinskaitė