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In Symbiosis, different ideas and areas of knowledge meet to explore the concept "symbiotic thinking". By applying a symbiotic perspective on contemporary and future events and challenges, we allow different methods and analyzes to interact in order to create new images and stories of a complex present and future.

To understand the time we live in, its challenges and humanities relationship to the world around us, we must think, research and collaborate across borders.

Our ambition with the project is therefore to unpretentiously and creatively discuss and test all kinds of possible and impossible symbiotic contexts. The Symbiosis project can  be seen as an experimental and transdisciplinary platform for testing and shaping symbiotic thinking.

During recent  years, the project has been developed in dialogue with researchers, artists and others and will result in an exhibition and public program at Färgfabriken in 2021.

By collaborating with people from various fields such as art, research, architecture, environmental sustainability, political science and economics, our ambition is to facilitate an experimental hub that explores and challenges "Symbiotic thinking".

We hope that Symbiosis will fuel many new conversations.


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The  Symbiosis Exhibition

Previous projects:
Expanded Societies

New Urban Topologies


The term symbiosis is defined as a biological interaction in which one or more different organisms live together in a close relationship with some kind of effect, either positive or negative. The word comes from the Greek and can be translated into "living with".

Symbiosis is increasingly used when talking about interaction between different systems. This can be, for example, how social structures, communications, the environment and biodiversity interact in urban planning.

What happens when we apply "symbiosis" as a model of thought when adressing our present and future challenges?

Photo: Gylleboverket. Work in progress.

Exhibitions, seminars, debates and much more!

In 2021, we open the doors to an exciting and variable exhibition that also serves as a workshop space and place for meetings, conversations and discussion.

AN experiment, A living laboratory.
Through art, architecture and urban planning, Färgfabriken has for a quarter of a decade explored how these expressions, by themselves and combined, can contribute to new ways of interpreting a complex reality. Symbiosis is an exhibition project whose themes were inspired by Färgfabriken's activities over the years.

Here the ambition is to condense these experiences and in a free associative way show relationships where art and research inspire each other and new meetings arise.

Photo from John Jakobsson's studio

Participants in the exhibition 2021

Tove Kjellmark

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Tove Kjellmarkwas born 1977 and is based in Stockholm. She is initially trained as a sculptor and have since developed a multi-facetted and experimental artistic practice, which encompasses several different media and materials. Kjellmark is edsucated at École des beaux arts and The Royal Institute of Art in Stockholm.

Could you tell us more about your artistic practice?
The work I do manifests both physically and conceptually, and places itself in the glitch between the digital and the organic, the past and the future. Since graduating I’ve exhibited regularly both in Sweden and internationally. Apart from my studio practice, I lecture, mentor and collaborate with humans and non-humans of various types.

My work can be described as visual decoction of forms and structures from the complex world in which we live. I am currently looking at the glitches in transformations between the digital and the organic; the gaps in experience when moving from one world to another.

The work I do has been recognized for creating spaces of critical reflection about the techno-scientific acceleration, artworks that ask questions about the nature of human and nonhuman agency in a highly indoctrinated post-human world. Over a longer period of time I've dealt with technoanimalism, giving rise to another type of animality, another type of nature but above all very delicately playing the affects of the involved audience.

ToveKjellmark Inside960x640From "Inside". Still from film.

What are you initial thoughts about the concept and the project Symbiosis?

The word symbiosis is usually easily explained as a biological interaction where two organisms live together in a close relationship with some kind of effect, either positive or negative. Through my work, I seek to shift our focus from that kind of outdated way of binary thinking, to a more rhizomatic perspective. Rhizome was developed as a philosophical concept by Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari. Rhizome is what Deleuze calls an "image of thought", based on the root system of some plants. These plants tend to be difficult to eradicate, as the root system remains even if the plant is removed. The system can grow in different directions, while an ordinary tree root branches off at the ends and everything goes back to the trunk root. As a model for culture, is a rhizome characterized by ceaselessly established connections between semiotic chains, organizations of power, and circumstances relative to the arts, sciences, and social struggles. Rather than narrativize history and culture, the rhizome presents history and culture as a map or wide array of attractions and influences with no specific origin or genesis, for a rhizome has no beginning or end; it is always in the middle, between things, interbeing, intermezzo.'

For me, a rhizomatic perspective gives a more authentic picture of how reality is entangled, multifaceted, in constant motion and transformation and can develop in different ways.  A non-hierarchical structure that propagates in all directions and invites to a variety of uses, re-functions and inoculations.

If we take our public rooms as a starting point and, for example, ask ourselves whether it is possible to make an ecosystem visible to itself?: Everyone has a right to public spaces, this is where people meet and where you go to get in contact with the unexpected. Mosses, fungi, insects and other small plants are frequent colonisers of any new territory, including human-built structures. While ecology exists within a city, large parts of these ecosystems and our interdependency with these microorganisms; how they clean our close environment and us over time, remain unnoticed to the general public.

Some call this “biodiversity blindness”.  While biodiversity may impact people’s attitudes subconsciously, the sad fact is that most folks don’t know much about the other organisms with whom they share their cities. To a lot of eyes, vegetation is just an undifferentiated mass of green and all those critters with six legs are just anonymous pests.

The same applies if we focus on digital development. We shape our technologies and our technologies shape us.

But how aware are we of this symbiosis really?

Sculpture detail, from  the work "Inside"



Gülbeden Kulbay

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Open my heart, 2017, Venice, Photo: Lorenza Cini (cropped)

Gülbeden Kulbay expresses her work through performance and community art. As an international artist, she works with the theme Humanity where she produces body-based performances. The works invite the spectator to see new perspectives on what it can mean to be human in a capitalist society. She also works with educational work and with consultations for artists in artistic processes. By leading workshops for young and adults in the methods of performance art, she wants to encourage participants to encourage awareness between mind, body and soul with the aim of preserving reason, physical intelligence and strength.

Who are you?

I am a Turkish woman, mother and artist

I love humans and their brilliance

I get angry at oppression and inequality

I live in everything between these points

In motion

In the line

In the lying eight


What are your spontaneous thoughts about the concept of "symbiosis" and the project Symbiosis?
I look forward to exploring and creating based on this artistic process that we are in together. Right now I think that the concept of Symbiosis is the symphony and harmony that results from the state that arises from our symbiotic being in the universe. I also think about the idea that we are not symbiotic right now, and that it this is the place we are constantly striving for. Our carrot. But maybe we are already there. In a symbiosis. It's just that our senses have not caught up because of the hereditary survival strategy.
Picture above: Open my heart, 2017, Venice, Italy.

Bengt Håbro

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Tell us about your artistic practice.
My art is about visually translating the experiences and feelings that nature gives me. During many years as a painter, I have primarily been interested in form and volume. In recent times, movement and spaciousness have become increasingly important and my images have moved into three dimensional space in the form of sculptures and mobiles.

Do you have any spontaneous associations with the concept of symbiosis?
Cooperation, reciprocity, dependency, organic, living, together, inseparable.

Bengt Håbro was born in 1951, grew up in Stockholm, lives and works in Österlen in Skåne.

Giles Thomsson / BTH

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Giles Thomson is a city planner and associate professor. He holds a Ph.D. in regenerative urbanism from Western Australia Curtin University in Australia. He is currently researching regenerative cities and regions in Sweden at Blekinge Institute of Technology (BTH) at the Department of Strategic Sustainable Development. He is particularly interested in how different modes of transport and infrastructures affect urban morphology. Giles has previous experience from both industry and government, and has worked on urban renewal projects in the UK and Australia, most recently as a research leader for the South Australian Government's integrated design strategy.

Within the Symbiosis collaboration, he works with Färgfabriken on ideas and content that deepen and exemplify what "regenerative cities and communities" could be.

Irene Stracuzzi

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Irene Stracuzzi (b. 1992, Italy) is a graphic designer based in Amsterdam and teaches in the master departments at Design Academy Eindhoven. Specialising in graphic design, art direction and information design, she works independently as well as collaboratively for clients in the fields of art and culture. Her research practice aims at translating complex findings into accessible visual formats, reflecting on the role of design as a critical tool to share knowledge.

Who are you?
I am a graphic and information designer fascinated by cartography. Through historical, scientific and technological research processes, I investigate how maps shape the perception of reality, exposing the unacknowledged influence of their makers. In particular, my current interest is in the climate crisis, due to the misinformation and lack of understanding of the general public when confronted with conflicting theories, politicised legislation, isolated data points and anecdotal experience. My ambition as a designer is to facilitate the understanding of such complexity through accessible visual formats, and to turn design research and mapping practices into frameworks for mobilisation.

What are your spontaneous thoughts about "symbiotic thinking"?
I interpreted 'symbiotic thinking' as a metaphor for collective action towards a common goal. In
my understanding of it, thinking could be symbiotic if the different thoughts complement each other in terms of knowledge, experience or viewpoint. I like the concept of 'symbiosis' because it involves the idea of plurality and mutual benefit.

John Jakobsson

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Who are you?
I am a sculptor and work from my studio on Gotland. I am 36 years old and have studied Ceramics and Glass at University of Arts, Craft & Design (Konstfack) in Stockholm. As a sculptor, I move freely between the different materials that my ideas require.

What are your thoughts about the concept of "symbiosis"?
What interests me most about the concept of symbiosis is how man as a species cannot accept his role in a larger biological context. That we are dependent on maintaining a balance and a symbiotic relationship with the ecological system in order to continue as a species. At the same time, the task seems impossible because much of what humanity strives for often leads us away from this balance. The truth is perhaps that nature does not need us at all but finds new ways to exist within itself, completely without our intervention.


How can this be linked to your work?
My work is often about creating meaning in the knowledge gaps that I think I discover in the prevailing worldview. What is the norm in what is considered the established worldview? Who has the interpretive precedence when it comes to collecting information that shapes our existence? What is the role of an artist in a world where facts are also drowned in rivers of information where algorithms and fake news shape our view of the world around us? For these reasons I am interested in pseudosciences such as cryptozoology which is very little evidence-based, but at the same time so rich in its narrative. I therefore create different beings and lifeforms that in their physical form are directly impossible. At least from what we know, or rather what we think we know.

Åsa Cederqvist

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Photo: Lisa Björk

Tell us about your artistic practice.
My practice is based on an interest in that which is under constant construction and creation. I am interested in material and mental transformations, changes and profound emotions. Both how ideas and materials change, as well as how our views are constantly updated.

The careless anthropocene and patriarchal worldview we have taken for granted needs to be shifted and land in a more humble post-humanist perspective. We must wake up and become aware! Become less machine- and algorithm-controlled and move towards solidarity. We need to use our creative, tactile and emotional intelligence more.

How do you put this into practice?
My work is expressed in an interface between film, sculpture, photography, drawing, sound, spatial installations and performance.

AsaCederqvist Civilization the Pleasure Principle Still
2013 AsaC Civilization The Pleasure Principle1 kopiaStills fron Civilization – The Pleasure Principle

For the Symbiosis exhibition, I have reconnected with a work I started in 2013 when I wanted to investigate the demarcation between purity and dirt, both from a mental and physical perspective. I have also been interested in our behaviors, as well as the human body and water. The body as a kind of transactional channel between nature and civilization, between the rational and the emotion-driven, between desire, carelessness, commerce and our primitive instincts. Water as a resource and as a material, which contains both toxins, dirt, human waste and the elixir of life. Without water no life. In Sweden we are very spoiled and few of us have encountered a dried up well or experienced toxins in our waters these days. Behaviors, for example how repressing forbidden thoughts means that we repress human nature again and again, and act as if what is not visible does not exist. Much of our intricate systems for water supply and water purification are taken for granted.

During the past six months, I have spent time with The Water Centre at KTH and familiarised myself with their research and will continuously be in dialogue with their research project NATURE during the work before and during the exhibition.

Tell us about your thoughts on the concept and project Symbiosis?
I choose to think of it from the perspective human-planet. And acceptance in an addiction. You get what you give. If we allow an impoverishment of our planet, nature and wildlife, then we will also be left without the balance on which this interaction has rested. Likewise, in terms of interpersonal interaction, how we behave towards each other and those we choose to interact with physically or digitally, determines what kind of social climate we get.

Symbiosis is for me an attitude towards life. It's an urgent issue - change must begin now - it's about daring to live in symbiosis with nature to facilitate the planet's need for recovery. But first we must acknowledge that the world (and most of us) has hitherto lived in symbiosis and dependence with the capitalist system, where fast cash and dying rich and famous are the goals for many. This must be peeled off and replaced in favour of awareness of our own and the planet's finite resources, that needs safeguarding and rebuilding instead of dismantling. Only then will there be an opportunity for future generations to continue and improve.

Åsa Cederqvist's artistic practice operates at the intersection of visual art, film and choreography. Through video, sculpture, installation, photography, and often with extensions in the form of performance or digital means - she creates humorous and disturbing universes that navigate between the subconscious and the rational, the physical and the ephemeral. Her works often suggest a layered narrative with a strong sense of transformation, as if they were in a constant emergence. Recently, her practice has been moving towards a mixture of virtual and physical spheres as a way of erasing the object-subject dichotomy. She has an MFA from the University of Arts, Craft & Design (Konstfack) (2000), and between 2010 and 2020 was a senior lecturer in the Textile program at the same university. In 2020, Åsa was a guest artist in Färgfabriken's Open Studio with her exploratory project A Kind of Metabolism (2).

The NATURE-project, KTH

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Foto: Sumit Vij

KTH's research project NATURE examines relationships between nature and society through urban infrastructure with a focus on water. Concepts such as abundance, dependence, control, nature, leakage, symbiosis / parasitism, decay and technosphere are used as a starting points in the project where new knowledge is gathered about water supply and the systems we humans build ourselves into.

Historically, the modern infrastructure ideal has dominated the imagination of engineers and planners. As a consequence, cities' water and sanitation networks consisting of pipes, pumps and reservoirs have largely been built in the same way all over the world. Cities around the globe are now experiencing challenges that require new ways of imagining future urban infrastructures and water supply. The project combines theoretical insight with empirical work in Guwahati (India) Stockholm (Sweden) and Kampala (Uganda).

For the Symbiosis exhibition, the topic of "water as a symbiotic element" is broadened and deepened, through interdisciplinary meetings with a special focus on artistic expressions and methods, in a creative collaboration with Färgfabriken and the artist Åsa Cederqvist.


In Symbiosis, together with many others, we have reflected on various issues and themes that help us find different inputs and symbiotic relationships.

Ecological evolution and designed systems
We have learned a lot about how nature's systems and building blocks work. At the same time, we parasitize on nature. Much of what evolution has created over billions of years, humans have affected and broken down in just a few decades. We have now begun to recreate and simulate ecological systems. Being human has always been about defining and influencing one's surroundings. Ecological projects are now needed on various scales that recreate the nature that humans have stolen. How will we be able to handle these challenges when planning our cities around the world?

The hidden landscapes
"Hinterlands" can be found in the field of tension between the what is left over, the unseen and the imaginative. What are the "hinterlands" of today? There is a rapid development of the borderland between the urban and the countryside. This borderland can be a landscape near a big city or a remote area incorporated into the global economy. These places are in a symbiotic relationship with the city and the countryside. The border sites are used for new housing, utilization of natural resources or constructions for the "new digital economy", like server halls. We pass by these places but rarely note them.

The concept of "Hinterland" has served as a starting point for a collaboration with the Nationalmuseum, which is shown in the exhibition Arcadia - a paradise lost.


In a short time, our existence has gone from living in isolated groups and clans on the savannah to becoming civilizations based on systems that are complexly intertwined around our entire planet. This has created a strong yet fragile "cobweb" of relationships and structures that affect each other. In their daily lives people are dependent on goods and services that origin around the world. Economic and political systems are interdependent in sophisticated but also contradictory ways. Their inner powers are both positively and negatively charged. Trade and mutual cooperation create trust and prosperity at best. But disputes over who has the initiative for change and changes in the equilibrium of power cause conflicts.

The contradictory human
Are we aware that the survival of our species depends on countless symbiosis that create balance between different beings and life forms? How can we maintain our compassion and dignity in a world that is becoming increasingly polarized and unpredictable? To be human is to exist in an ever-changing state - we are both impulse-driven and reflective. There are many examples of how technological development may prolong our lives. What do we do with this time? Digital systems create new opportunities to communicate with and understand the world, but there is also concern that technology could take over and thet we become its "slaves".

A prerequisite for all life

Our world is intertwined across national borders through oceans, lakes, rivers and small streams of water. Water is a symbiotic element. A prerequisite for life. (Scientists now believe that there is water both on the moon and inside the celestial body Pluto). How can multiple perspectives on water create positive holistic world views? Water is connected to many aspects of life, such as the illusion of control, the modernist view of the city, cleanliness, food, industry, population growth, disasters, conflicts, migration, recreation, biology and many others.



Hinterland and Arkadia

Färgfabriken and the Nationalmuseum teamed up in spring of 2019 with a focus on exploring what the historical and contemporary art witness and teach us about natural resources and climate policies. The result can be seen in the exhibition Arcadia - A Paradise Lost, on display at the Nationalmuseum September 17 2020 – January 17 2021.

Photo: Suvra Kanti Das

Regenerative cities, BTH

An ongoing research collaboration between Blekinge Institute of Technology and Färgfabriken focuses on sustainable urban development and imaginations of the future. together we investigate the concept of "regenerative cities", starting from, among other examples, our immediate area Lövholmen and Bangladesh's capital Dhaka.

Exchange with Södertörns Högskola

A long term collaboration with Södertörn University has in the autumn of 2020 manifested in an exchange with Isabel Löfgren, artist, researcher and university lecturer in Media and Communication Science. Through the PUSH program she contributes in discussions and analyzes about Symbiosis' content and themes, while conducting her own research in the border zones between different fields and practices.

Exchange with KTH

Many interesting collaborations and dialogues with the Royal Institute of Technology are taking place. Some of the sections and departments that are involved in Symbiosis are KTH Watercentre, KTH Environmental strategies and Futures studies, KTH Sustainable development ICT and innovation, KTH Architecture, KTH Science and Technology Studies with focus on Gender and Environment, KTH Media Technology and Interaction Design . The collaboration is expressed as the exchange of ideas, joint research projects and the formulation of course assignments.

Photo: Jann Lipka

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What would you like us to discuss? Do you have suggestions or ideas? Maybe a course or conference that would fit into a "symbiotic context"? Please keep in touch!
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© Färgfabriken 2020